Does Having Many files on your Computer Slow it Down?

Written by Mark Sanborn: Aug 27, 2007

Actually no. Unless you search for files on your hard drive on a daily basis or have less than 1% disk space left having a hard drive full of files does not effect your daily computer operation. This includes music, documents, pictures, videos, programs etc…

So what are these files?

Files on your computer are nothing more than bits of data, 1s and 0s. When they are sitting on your computer they do not effect how fast you browse the web, or play a game, or watch a movie, or how fast your computer starts up.

You can think of your hard drive as a filing cabinet just storing your files for use at a later time. When you need to pull up a file your computer knows the precise location of the file and retrieves the file extremely fast. Simply adding more files to the cabinet only makes the search for the file marginally slower but it doesn’t make your computer run slower.

So Where did this misconception come from?

Well, back in the old days, (only a few years ago) computers had relatively small hard drives and they were expensive. Many times a computer would only have a hard drive large enough to hold the operating system and only a few programs. The problem back then was that when the hard drive was full it would have little/no space left for virtual memory (backup memory for when the ram gets full) and the computer would suffer in performance when using programs requiring lots of RAM. Today hard drives have become much cheaper and are able to hold a lot more files and programs. These large drives rarely become full and this is no longer an issue. This performance loss due to a full drive will only happen if your hard drive is more than 99% full.

Another reason someone might mistakenly believe their computer is slow because of many files is due to P2P (peer to peer) programs. Many times people will install P2P programs to download music. After awhile they collect a few MP3s and they begin to notice that their computer is running much slower. They assume that their computer is slow because of the collection of MP3s on their computer. What is really happening is that the P2P programs are installing adware/spyware on the computer. These are programs that are running constantly using system resources thus causing your computer to run slower. Any program a computer is currently running will use some system resources. As soon the P2P program installs enough of these you will begin to notice the drop in computer performance. To get rid of spyware see the Spyware Removal Guide.

So there are many reasons why your computer might start running slow but having many files stored on your hard drive will not have any noticeable effect to our normal computer operations. If you are having problems with a slow computer you may have adware/spyware, a virus, many startup programs, or winrot.

Need to print shipping labels on your site?

Checkout my product RocketShipIt for simple easy-to-use developer tools for UPS™ FedEx™ USPS™ and more.