Just a little bit more
With 3TB hard drives normal these days, computer makers are turning to SSD [solid state drives] to improve performance and increase prices. Problem is that they are still expensive. So 128GB and 256GB are the normal sizes in an age when we are used to 1TB drives in laptop computers.
IMPORTANT TIP: Never, never buy a Windows or Mac laptop or tablet with just a 128GB solid state drive. There's two reasons why:
Because of the internal design, 128GB SSDs are inherently 2x slower than 256GB drives.
The operating system takes up so much room that the drive won't have much space left. For example, I just bought a laptop with a "256GB" solid state drive. After taking away 10GB for the recovery partition, 17GB for Windows, installing my standard software, and 6GB lost to megabyte rounding [you didn't think that a 256GB drive actually holds 256GB of data, did you?] that 256GB drive had 156GB free -- 100GB lost before I even got to write my first article. A 128GB drive will leave you with 28GB free.
There is, however, a free way to gain back some GBs. Back in the 1990s, a company called Stax figured out how to do real-time data compression on DOS computers. It could just about double the amount of drive space in those days. No surprise, the idea was so brilliant that Microsoft copied the software, added it to DOS, and then got fined big bucks for the IP [intellectual property] theft.
(Real-time compression did not occur before Stax came along, because computer CPUs were just too slow to do the work in real-time.)
This technology is still in Windows in 2015, even in Windows 10. It is called Disk Compression and is hidden away in the Properties dialog box of File Manager. In a moment, I'll show you how to activate it.
This being 2015, there is a big drawback, however. Most files we deal with are already compressed: music is compressed (MP3s ares 10x smaller than CDs), photos are compressed (JPEGs are 30x smaller than BMPs), movies are compressed (MPEG-4 compresses by about 50x), and so on. Other kinds of files can't be compressed, such as binary EXE files.
(Compression works by removing repetitive information. For example, if a text file has 50 space characters in a row, compression replaces them by a code that says "50 spaces." Video compression works a bit differently: it compares adjacent movie frames, and stores only what little changes from frame to frame. No repetition, no compression.)
This means that, yes, Disk Compression will free up some disk space, but it won't be the spectacular 2x from yesteryear. Here is a specific example. I implemented Disk Compression on my new laptop with the 256GB SSD:
- Before compression: 165GB free
- After compression: 170GB free
So it gained me 5GB. Enough for half a season of CSI. The more files your hard drive has that are not already compressed, the more impressive the result
There is a drawback: folders that are compressed in Windows 10 get a pair of small blue arrows, whose look irritates me. See the figure below:
How to Implement Disk Compression
Right-click the drive icon, and then choose Properties:
In the Properties dialog box, click the Compress This Drive to Save Disk Space option.
Click OK. Windows will get right to it, telling you approximately how long it will take, which I have found is vastly overblown.