A reader is having a serious hard drive space issue: “I have an Acer Aspire ES 11 with Windows 8, which says it has 32 gig both on the website and on its little sticker. When I go to windows however it says 282 MB free of 19.8GB. I don’t get it. I have only had the laptop a couple of days and have put my emails in, downloaded two small games from the app store and wrote a couple of paragraphs in word. Altogether the amount of storage I have actually used is less then a GB. Can anyone help?

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Your computer is really more closely related to Internet appliances like a tablet or a Chromebook that to a traditional laptop. This netbook has a very small 32 GB Flash Memory, but that doesn’t mean that much memory is free. That’s the total size of the internal storage. The 64 bit version of the Windows 8.1 operating system takes up 20 GB of space all on its own, so that won’t leave you a lot of hard drive space.  And don’t forget the portion of your hard drive that is used for data backup.

I believe this version also comes with Office 365, which takes up between 2 and 3 GBs of space.

This device likely also comes with some programs installed by the manufacturer that could be taking up even more room.  If you’re downloading your e-mails to an e-mail client, you could be taking up a lot of room, especially if they have images or other files attached to them.

This type of device is designed for you to use cloud storage whenever possible, so I’d only keep copies of very important e-mails actually on the device itself.

I’d suggest going to the Uninstall or change a program window. Just type Uninstall or change  program in the search charm and click on the result.

Then click on the Size column to sort the programs by size.

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There may be some trial versions of programs or programs you don’t want or need taking up space. Uninstalling them may free up some room.

You can expand your space with an SD card, but it won’t go all the way into the slot on this particular model, so you’ll need to take it out when you put your device in a case or take it on the go. An external hard drive is also a good option.

One suggestion I can offer is to reset the PC back to its factory state. That will wipe out any bloatware. You will need to re-download an reinstall any Windows apps that aren’t part of the operating system and Office 365.  Just type “reset” in your search charm and click on the results under settings.  Make sure any documents, images and music are backed up somewhere else first.  Also, if you’re still running Windows 8 and not 8.1, I want you to take the free upgrade to 8.1 just as soon as you refresh the PC. You’ll need to go to the Windows Store to find it. Windows 8 no longer has security support and isn’t safe to run.

You certainly aren’t the only other user of this model of netbook complaining about the lack of hard drive space. But I haven’t seen any real solutions. The hard drive space is the sacrifice you make for a low-cost PC.

~ Cynthia