Patrick Marshall answers your personal technology questions each week.
Q: I volunteer at a private school. We have a large number of ASUS T100 convertible tablets. They have 32-gigabyte drives and we are continually running out of storage space. When I look at one of the drives, it shows 27.7 gigabytes total with 1.16 gigabytes available. There are three folders: Program Files with 2.44GB; Users with 1.02GB; Windows with 21.7 GB. I’m not sure where the other 2.5 gigabytes are.
There are very similar numbers on many of the machines. However, I have some devices where the Windows folder is as low as 16 gigabytes.
My question is, what is bloating those Windows files? They sure did not start out that big. I have done everything I can think of, including emptying the Windows Software Distribution Download file. I feel I must be missing something.
— Jack Stiegler
A: First, keep in mind that a 32-gigabyte drive won’t have 32 gigabytes of available storage. The drive comes with a bunch of system files that generally amount to several gigabytes.
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Next, check out the system requirements for the version of Windows on those computers. Windows 10 and Windows 7 both require 16 gigabytes for the 32-bit version and 20 gigabytes for the 64-bit version. If the machines are old ones using Windows XP they should only be using 1.5 gigabytes of disk space.
Next you’ll want to use the Disk Cleanup tool to see how much storage space you can reclaim. This utility will allow you to eliminate old files that may still be hanging around after a Windows upgrade, as well as temporary internet files and other storage-consuming files. To do so, open File Explorer and right-click on the C: drive. Next, click on Properties and then launch Disk Cleanup. When Disk Cleanup pops open be sure to select the Cleanup System Files button.
Finally, Windows may be configured to reserve more of your disk space for virtual memory than you need. When Windows runs out of RAM for running programs it swaps them to virtual memory reserved on the computer’s drive. You can reduce the amount of storage space reserved for this, though be aware that doing so may impact performance. In Windows 10 you can adjust the size of virtual memory from File Explorer by right-clicking on My Computer and selecting Properties. Next click on Advanced System Settings and the Advanced tab. Next, click on the top Settings button and in the dialogue that pops up click on yet another Advanced tab. Finally … yes, finally … in the section labeled “Virtual Memory” click on the change button.
Q: I read with interest your article about the “new” Firefox. I have been using Firefox for years. Has my Firefox automatically updated to “new” Firefox, or do I have to start over with “new” Firefox? If I have to get “new” Firefox will my bookmarks and other settings automatically transfer to the “new” Firefox or will I have to start all over?
— Jerry Merritt
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A: Your Firefox should have updated automatically, though you should have seen a pop-up saying it was updating. You can always check your version by clicking the menu button (a stack of three horizontal lines in the upper-right corner) and selecting Help, then About Firefox.
Q: I have an ARRIS, DOCSIS 3.0 router in my home. When I connect wirelessly to it, I have the choice between SSID-2.4 and SSID-5. What do these two designations mean and is one better than another to connect my computer, printer, iPhone, etc.?
— Christopher Taylor
A: You have a dual-band router, which is a good thing. It supports both a 5 GHz band and the 2.4 GHz band. The 5 GHz band offers faster throughput but its range is more limited.
The long and the short of it is you’ll want to use the 5 GHz band unless you find your client is out of range of the router and, as a result, has connectivity problems. The good news is that if you need to use the 2.4 GHz channel you should still find it fast enough for virtually all purposes, including most streaming.