“Do I Need a New Hard Drive?”

do I need a new hard drive

Church planters and pastors often wonder, “My computer seems slow. Do I need a new hard drive?” The computer hard drive is not a new fascination. Shakespeare penned the famous words, ‘O Hard Drive Space, Hard Drive Space! Wherefore art thou Hard Drive Space?’ It seems hard drive space and its effects on the performance of your computer was not lost on him.

Or take Zoo Yan. As early as the 4th Century, this ancient Chinese philosopher was wrestling with the interconnected nature of hard drive and computer performance. We know his famous thoughts now as ‘Yen and Yang.’ Don’t bother Wikipedia. I’ll summarize it for you. Zoo was captivated by the relationship between the ever-increasing size of the hard drive space and the ever-increasing media consuming that space. His fascination was further aggravated by the wacky computer performance caused by full hard drives. In fact, Zoo’s thoughts in this area are the source of the modern-day saying, “It’s like a zoo in there.”

Kidding. All joking aside, if your hard drive is near full, your computer will act wacky…and that is NOT funny when it is happening to you.

Last time we looked at why a full hard drive affects your computer’s performance. Go check that out for a refresher. We also tackled five hard drive FAQs. I answered them with church planters in mind, and in a way that does not require a Ph.D.

Today we will pinpoint common memory hogs and how to deal with them. As we start, keep these five facts in mind.

  1. The age-old rule is that you need 5–10% of your total hard drive space free. (IE 25–50GB on a 500GB drive)
  2. A near full hard drive most often causes wacky, weird performance issues. “Speed” may be a factor, but usually strange behavior is the most common symptom.
  3. There are numerous myths about speed and hard drives. Bottomline: Do not fall prey to “slow computer” equals “full hard drive”. (See #2)
  4. Saying ‘my computer seems slow’ is about as helpful as hearing ‘the so-and-so family left our church because it was not a good fit.’ A combination of factors contribute to the ‘speed’ of your laptop. And ‘slow’ is rather subjective.
  5. Hard drives now come in two flavors. At times, how you troubleshoot and address one does not apply to the other. (See last week’s FAQ).

Alright, let’s free up some space and keep your computer humming along. Also, don’t miss the Free Mini-Kit Bonus at the end to get your hands on my favorite hard drive resources.

NOTE: If you need help determining how full your hard drive is, check out FAQ #3 from last week’s article. You can find your answer in a matter of seconds.

Boss Hogs (3 Most Common Hard Drive Space Culprits)

Your hard drive likely holds thousands upon thousands of items. But, there is no need to go on a wild hog chase. You do not have to wade through each item like an old shoe box of Grandma’s polaroids. Hard drive hogs typically leave their mark in one of these three areas:

  1. Video
  2. Audio
  3. Pictures

See. That wasn’t hard. We just eliminated entire species of files on your hard drive that you do not need to worry about. We also put to rest the misunderstanding that documents eat hard drive space. A lifetime of sermon manuscripts will not take the space of an HD movie you download from iTunes or Amazon Prime.

Here is the Yen and Yang truth about these three categories and you hard drive. Yen: hard drive space—or ‘capacity’—has exponentially increased over the years. Yang: the quality—and therefore, size—of our media has exponentially increased over the years. The result? Bigger hard drives get filled with bigger media.

When I was a young whippersnapper, we measured hard drives in terms of megabytes (MB). Now, thanks to Steve Jobs, we measure pictures in terms of megapixels (MP). Go ahead. Snap another blurry pic of your cat attacking her own tail on your iPhone 6S. That will cost you 12MPs, please. Even worse, take some dark, fuzzy video of Garfield’s tail-chasing escapade at an eye-popping resolution of 4K. That means your dark, fuzzy, low-light video will look fantastic on your friend’s Ultra HD 4K television he bought two hours before last week’s Super Bowl. That same video will take up two seats on the 737 of your hard drive. Yip. Things get uncomfortable in a hurry.

So, what do we do about these memory hogs? Grab your high-powered rifle or compound bow (or your organic shopping list). We’re going hunting.

Cut that Video

Video is the biggest memory hog. Those fancy moving pictures combined with sound do some serious damage. They are the ‘330lb offensive lineman’ to your ‘buffet.’ Ouch. Here’s how to cut video like a Hollywood film editor.

  • Personal: Move old videos of your family to another drive (on the cloud or external)
  • Personal: Move old movies, TV shows, or music videos you downloaded from iTunes off your local HD (most of these can be accessed from the cloud if you need them in the future)
  • Work: Track down movies or video clips you saved as part of past sermon prep or youth talks you delivered. Get rid of them. Most of them are available online and need not take up space on your HD.
  • In iTunes, glance at your Movies and check My Movies. iTunes dumps movies not purchased from inside iTunes here, including home movies. Move ones you want to keep to an external drive and delete the ones you regret capturing to begin with.

TIP: Do a search on your HD for common movie file types. The results will show you all the videos stored on your hard drive.

You can free up some serious space in a hurry by deleting video files.

Edit that Audio

The second most common HD hog is audio. Your music library is likely filling your headphones with hip tunes as it also fills up your hard drive. Another culprit particular to pastors and planters is podcasts. You may have old sermon podcasts camping out on your hard drive. Here are some great tips to reduce old or unnecessary audio files collecting dust in your iTunes library.

  • In iTunes, go to My Music and then click on the View menu and choose Show Duplicate Items. Delete duplicates of songs that you do not need.
  • Clear out old music taking up your memory if the song, artist or album no longer takes you down memory lane. Our music taste changes over time. It is ok.
  • Many of us have transitioned the way we consume music. We used to purchase, now we stream (Spotify, iTunes Radio, Pandora, etc.). If you have hard copies of songs you now stream, consider moving your copies to an external drive or USB memory stick (in case you need them in the future).
  • Check your podcasts for old sermons or old podcasts stored on your hard drive. You can almost always grab the episode again in the future should you need it. There is no need for it to live on your hard drive.
  • Do you store your own sermons on your laptop? If you do, delete the ones that are online via podcast or the ones you wished you never preached in the first place (assuming you learned from your mistakes.)
  • Use the same search tip mentioned for video and search for common audio files. Hunt down audio files that live outside your music library and remove the ones you do not need.

TIP: Check out the Mini-Kit bonus for a great app to help you organize your messy iTunes library.

Crop those Pictures

Our smartphones take some snazzy pics. As the cameras on these phones get smarter, the size of the pictures they take can get silly. Add kids to the mix and things can get out of hand in a hurry. You have 462 photos of their first bath OR they took 462 photos of you trying to fix the toilet. That is the price you pay for handing them the phone to buy yourself five more minutes of ‘honey-do’ time. If the pictures from your phone ever wind up on your computer, cleaning them up can free up space. Here are two tips to help you crop your photo library.

  • Choose the best 1–3 pictures from the myriad you took of the same moment or event. We often take 100 or more pictures of important moments. 99 of them are bad or blurry. One is decent. Leave the 99 and keep the one. It worked for Jesus.
  • Consider moving your photo library to an external drive.

Tip: Move large photo libraries to an external drive. (See bonus below.)

Do I Need a New Hard Drive Summary

“So, do I need a new hard drive?” Again, as a general rule, you would like to keep 5–10% of your hard drive free. Get help with my free bonus below so you can get your space back with minimal hassle.

Mac Mini-Kit Bonus

I use one tool to regularly keep my Mac hard drive clean. In fact, this tool freed up 4GB on my laptop today. I cannot recommend it enough.

I’ll point you to this app AND a few others to help you tackle your hard drive in my free Mini-Kit guide. Save yourself hours of time and grab it now. Here is what you will get when you grab your free copy.

Get Free HD Mini-Kit

Use this free Mini-Kit as the first answer to your question: “Do I need a new hard drive?”

  • My favorite hard drive cleaning app (a real lifesaver) so you can safely get more HD space in minutes.
  • How to gain a quick snapshot of what’s eating up your Mac Disk Space in 2 clicks.
  • Apps to help you locate large files hogging hard drive space so you do not have to manually hunt them down.
  • Links to my favorite How-To articles so know exactly what to do about your video, audio, and pictures.
  • How to use the power of Finder to search for certain file types on your hard drive so that you can delete the most common space hogs.

Get My Free Mac Hard Drive Mini-Kit PDF

If you are a Windows user, you can find the same kinds of articles or similar apps covered in this free mini-kit with a simple Google search. Grab the free mini-kit so you know what to look for.

Next Time

Next time we will shift gears and talk about your brand. If you are a pastor or church planter, you are a brand manager whether you know what that means or not. Not to worry. Jesus is on the throne and I am here to help you with a simple shift.

Smartphone Bonus

By the way, a full smartphone with no memory will make it act dumb. We will look at this in more detail in a future article. But for now, know that the same principles covered in this article apply. Full smartphone equals wacky performance.


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