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Shawn, Computer Engineer
Category: Mac
Satisfied Customers: 275
Experience:  15 years of Mac software and hardware troubleshooting experience, 10 years of programming experience
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For Shawn My hard drive just died for the 2nd time in a 3

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For Shawn: My hard drive just died for the 2nd time in a 3 month period. I think this might have happened because my hard drive is full. Will you walk me through how to delete unimportant things and back up stuff (movies, music, pictures) to an external hard drive, so they won't be taking up as much space? Thank you.
Hi Beth,

Oh no! I'm so sorry to hear that your hard drive crashed again. Thank you for requesting me!

What state is your computer in now - does it boot, and if so, is it possible to copy files off to the external drive? Otherwise, we can go about fixing it. Let me know.

Thanks! Kind regards,

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Hi Shawn,

The mac store replaced my hard drive and I re-installed my old operating system that was backed up on my time capsule, so I'm good to go as far as that's concern. While I was home over Christmas my brother told me that my hard drive was almost full and that I needed to delete stuff; I just hadn't taken the time to figure out how to do it. He said that I had my previous operating system backed up and that could be deleted. I also know that I have all my music in itunes and lots of pictures in iphoto. I just don't know the correct way to back them up. Thank you so much for your help!

Hi Bethany,

Ok, thank you for the additional information!

I'm guessing that your brother found a folder on your hard drive called "Previous Systems". It should be at the root level of your Macintosh HD. If it is, look inside it. I'm assuming your system is running the way you want it now and you have all of your applications and files. If not, you might check in the things you're deleting to make sure you still have them.

The Previous Systems folder contains a lot of files. A list of them is here, under "Files and folders that are moved into Previous Systems":

The one that you need to be most careful of is the Users folder, which contains any backed up user data (e.g., Word files) that wasn't transferred over during your operating system install. This folder may not exist, in which case you should be fine. Check and see if there are any files in the Previous Systems folder that you recognize that you don't have already, but if you don't see any then it's okay to delete the rest of them. Make sure to empty the trash when you're done, and that should help a lot.

Let me know how that works for you. It's good to have at *least* 1 GB of free hard drive space, so if deleting the previous systems doesn't give you that kind of space then I can lead you through reducing the size of your iPhoto library.

Best regards,

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Okay, not to be dumb, but how do I get to the "root level?" I click on hard drive, but how do I know which folder to go into? They all seem to have folders buried in folders. I tried to do a search for "previous system" using the finder and no folder came up.Is there a way to look at my hard drive and see what's taking up the most space? I would like to learn how to back up iphoto and itunes for my own edification. Its been on my list of things to learn how to do. Just so you know when I open up get info on my hard drive it says:
capacity: 111.47
available: 42.58
used: 68.89
Thank you so much for your help!

Hi Bethany,

You have plenty of hard drive space available - 42.58 gigabytes is a lot of space. I don't think that's the cause of your hard drive crashes.

Have these crashes been software crashes where you can just reinstall the operating system, or hardware crashes where the hard drive has to be physically replaced?

As for backing up iPhoto and iTunes, they are automatically backed up with Time Machine. However, here are instructions on how to back up individual parts of them.

iPhoto has a great feature called "Export" in the File Menu. Select the photos (or albums) that you want to back up and choose Export. Then click the File Export tab and save the files where you wish.

An alternative way to handle photos is to select them as before and choose Share menu > Burn. This will allow you to burn them to a CD or DVD for backup or sharing.

Once you're done with either of these methods, you can drag the photos to the trash can in iPhoto if you want to delete them. iPhoto doesn't automatically empty the trash, so you'll need to in order to recover the space: go to the iPhoto menu and choose "Empty Trash"

As for iTunes, there are a few options for backing up your library:

1) File menu > Library > Back up to disc... will let you back up your entire library to DVD

2) You can also drag songs or playlists out of iTunes and onto your desktop (or external hard drive) manually. This makes a copy of them in the other location. Then, you can select the songs and choose Edit > Delete to remove them from your computer.

Let me know a bit more about these crashes and I can try to help you identify what might be causing them. Thanks again, and my apologies for the delayed response! Kind regards,

Shawn and 4 other Mac Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Hi Shawn,
I'm sorry that I've taken so long with this one. I have family visiting so haven't had time to try it out. I am going to pay you and accept. If I have issues with it can I just reply to this question for more help? Thanks so much!


Not a problem at all! Yes, if you have more questions just come back to this thread.

Best wishes,