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Storage Optimization

For years I’ve been fighting the battle of hard drive space on my computers. Some of my hard drive issues were accidental, some have been self inflicted. At least once a year I discover that I’m once again running out of space on my hard drive and I embark on an exhausting and drawn out process of determining what is taking up space and where. This issue has become somewhat of an office joke because it’s something I am always fighting.

When you open up About This Mac on your computer and then select storage, you’re met with some basic information. The system will give you a very general idea of what’s on your computer and give you specifics on how much space is allocated to Apps, Photos, Audio, Moves and Other. The “other” category is perhaps the biggest mystery when it comes to your drive. Just what is in that “other” category anyway? Programs like Disk Inventory X were life savers for me. This software can help to locate large files on your machine and then you can determine if it’s something you want to remove.

With the release of Sierra and the introduction of storage optimization all of my headaches with space have almost magically disappeared. Before installing Sierra on my Mac I had about 25GB of free space on my hard drive and for the past 6 months or so I have had limited success in freeing up more space. Basic tricks like actually shutting down my computer and rebooting, regularly dumping my trash and trolling through my files have had short term success in creating more space on my computer. Storage optimization has made all of this go away almost instantly, including the annoying ‘other’ category.

When I initially installed Sierra I gained about 10GB of space as unnecessary files were removed, but I wanted more space. Upon looking at my storage I was delighted to see that the other category really is gone! Sierra breaks down what’s taking up space in several categories making it much easier to identify at a glance what file categories are hogging valuable space.

You can see at a glance how much space Mail, Photos, Documents, iOS files and more are using. Click on the manage button in the top right hand corner and it will expand to provide suggestions for storage optimization. You can easily choose to send your photos to iCloud and you can specifically select and turn on storage optimization. Storage optimization will automatically remove iTunes movies and TV shows you’ve already watched, keep only recent e-mail attachments and discard the aging ones. Other options are to set your computer to automatically empty trash for anything older than 30 days or choose to reduce clutter. The reduce clutter option will sort through your documents and other content and delete what is no longer needed once you review the files.

Within the storage optimization options you can click on the different storage categories and see specifics on what is in that category. If you select documents, it will show you the entire contents of your documents folder and the file sizes. It can do the same with Mail, iOS files, applications and additional categories. No longer do you need to dig through files. You can see everything in one quick view! In going through the categories I uncovered in less than 5 minutes that the major storage issues on my machine were old iOS backups of phones, almost 40GB worth! I deleted all my old iOS backups except the most recent one and significantly increased the amount of free space on my hard drive. Going forward it’s going to be much easier to manager my storage and better isolate my storage troubles.

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