freeyourgbOne of the many benefits of streaming media services such as Spotify, Pandora, Netflix, and Amazon Video on Demand is that you don't need to store large video and audio files on your computer. For the first time in the history of personal computing, the need for larger hard drives has gone down as we push more and more of our digital lives into the cloud.

But that doesn't mean that your hard drive will never get full.

I look into cleanup anytime I'm under 4GB of free space, otherwise I run the risk of my HD getting sluggish. After I've emptied the trash (you've done that, right?), here are five quick ways to free up hard drive space.

1. Delete iPad and iPhone backups

Check the Devices tab under iTunes Preferences, and delete all but the most recent. I picked up 11 GB by deleting redundant, year-old backups of my iPhone and iPad.

2. Delete old podcasts
I often subscribe to podcasts, then forget about them. Meanwhile, iTunes faithfully downloads a new 45-minute episode each week. After a few months, that's a big chunk of hard drive space that provides no utility to me.

3. Delete your mail file
You keep your email in the cloud right? Then why is your computer keeping a copy of every email and attachment you've received in the last four years? Probably because you set up your Gmail account on your iPhone, and OSX decided to sync your laptop with its Mail app, and it's been updating every day without you knowing it.

If you do all of your email on your iPhone or via the web, you can delete the files in this directory:

~/Library/Application Support/Mail/Data

This one bought me 10GB.

4. Delete X-Code Installer
If you're a developer, chances are you've installed X-Code. Check your Applications directory to see if the X-Code Installer remains. If so, you can safely delete it to free 1.7 GB.

5. Run Disk Inventory
If you're still looking for more after hitting these quick wins, try Disk Inventory, which scans your hard drive and gives you pretty pictures describing what's hogging all the space.

Screen Shot 2012-12-26 at 3.20.33 PM

Anyone else have tips for freeing up hard drive space?

9 ways increasing page speed can help your business