We’re spoiled by today’s enormous spinning drives and ever-growing SSDs. Space doesn’t tend to be an issue. But managing it really should be, both in terms of what’s there and where you’re putting it. Yes, Windows search can dig things up quite readily, but despite Microsoft’s attempts to improve it, searching on NTFS drives is simply not a quick task. However, if your files are well, er, filed, you may never need to do a Windows search again.
Consider, before you do anything rash, changing your default installation directory. By default, most applications you install either nestle in the “Program Files” or “Program Files (x86)” folders, splitting them up between those that run natively in 64-bit (the former) and those that don’t. Logically, this makes sense; practically, 64-bit Windows is now the mainstream, 32-bit applications are entirely compatible with 64-bit systems, and there’s no reason to split them apart in this way. It’s just confusing. But during each program installation (bar those of poorly-coded programs that rely on specific directories to run), you are given a choice as to where you install your software. Setting up your own folder structure—say, a “Programs” folder, with folders within labeled “Music,” “Office,” et al—is a great way both to neaten up your collection and find out what you have installed when the Start menu begins to get a bit unruly. It’s a five-minute manual job that will make life easier in the future.
Desktop Windows isn’t nice enough to offer folder quotas for files in the same way its server-focused skew does. Quotas, as you might expect, help control the amount that users are allowed to store. Restricting yourself in this manner is a great way to make sure you’re cleaning out the dead wood regularly—if you’re forced to make room every time you want to stick a new game or program on your system, those tough decisions suddenly get much easier to make. As we’ve said, Windows doesn’t naturally support such storage handcuffs, but we can get around it with a little cunning and a lot of partitioning.
Drive space doesn’t tend to be an issue. But managing it really should be