9.3. Your Hard Drive's Available Space
It's easy to take a large hard drive for granted, until you begin to read the fine print on most software boxes. Some software needs less than a megabyte of hard disk space; other programs, like Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Word, require several hundred megabytes. Some computer games consume two gigabytes all by themselves .
Before buying a new program, take a look at how much disk space your hard drive holds, as well as how much free space it has left for new files and programs. Windows XP shows a running tally when you right-click your drive's icon in My Computer and choose Properties. A nifty pie chart appears (Figure 9-2), displaying how many slices of hard drive your data currently consumes and how much is left over for new arrivals.
Figure 9-2. You can use the two checkboxes along the bottom of this window to compress and/or index your files. If you're running short on disk space, turn on "Compress drive to save disk space"; Windows XP packs your files more tightly to make extra room. Compressing your entire drive consumes several hours, however, so choose this option when you'll be away from your PC. The Indexing Service eats up a lot of your hard drive space; it's listed here so you can turn it off. Windows XP's Search feature still runs without it. Turning the indexer on only speeds up searches for words stored inside of files, a task you'd probably do better assigning to Google's Desktop Search utility (www.google.com/downloads).