Keeping your hard disk clean is not difficult, finding reliable applications which keep things simple but not bloated can be. I use two on a regular basis from Piriform, CCleaner and Defraggler. Before you rush off to download these, please read on why – its just as important.
CCleaner offers a few different tools, though mainly I just use the ‘cleaner’ functionality – it also offers a registry fixer, though always back up your registry before using this. Its ideal for removing browser data, temporary files and some other leftovers.
It doesn’t clean Windows Logs, which can take up sizeable amounts of space if left uncleaned. Use the Window’s Disk Cleanup feature for this.
Whereas CCleaner deals very much in the file domain, Defraggler is the physical backup. Disks become defragmented, and while Windows can do some background activities, I like to get a bit more feedback and control; Defraggler provides this, it rearranges data on the disk surface for quicker access. Ideal for users who do recordings, which seems really to like having an unfragmented disk to use (e.g Fraps).
Those two are the most necessary I would say, and often provide the most immediate results. But if you are still struggling with space, you could consider using WinDirStat (short for Windows Directory Statistics) – this application maps out files on your hard disk in a visual format. Selection of files highlight contents and can really provide insight into what is taking up space. Always go in armed and ready to do some research on files and folders though, you could do serious harm without due care.
Finally, if you’re a person who regularly updates various drivers (like gamers likely should with graphics cards), keep Driver Sweeper by Phyxion in mind; it provides support for some common drivers – best run in safe mode though after cleaning the drivers off using more regular methods. This ensures a completely clean slate for the new drivers and avoids any potential problems old leftovers might create.