Understanding what is stored on your laptop hard drive

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About this article

This article includes instructions for determining what is stored where on the hard drive installed in your WSU-provided laptop. It is intended for all current participants in the E-Warrior Digital Life and Learning Program, both students and employees.

What do I need to know about where files are stored on my laptop hard drive?

You don't need to understand how your hard drive works at a molecular level, but everyone who uses a laptop should know the following:

  • Does my laptop have more than one physical hard drive?
  • Is my hard drive divided into partitions? What's a partition? What's the difference between a partition and a volume?
  • What is the maximum capacity of my hard drive?
  • How much hard drive space do I have left?
  • How much of my hard drive space is being used by my personal folders and files?
  • Where on my hard drive are all of my personal folders and files stored?
  • When I install software, where on my hard drive are those applications stored?
  • How much hard drive space is being used by my personal files and folders?
  • How much hard drive space is being used by the applications I have installed?
  • Are there files and folders on my hard drive that I should not touch?
  • Are there files and folders on my hard drive that are hidden?
  • Do I have any folders and files on my hard drive that are being shared or synchronized (e.g. in the cloud)?