Delete fonts to free up hard drive space

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Modern hard drives offer capacities in the hundreds of gigabytes. Yet we still manage to fill them up with pictures, videos and music, documents and applications. Remember when we thought, “Wow, 20GB. I’ll never use all that space”? Now we buy a computer with a 500GB hard drive and soon we’re shopping for another one, or a 1TB drive to replace it with.

But not all that space is being filled up with things we add to the operating system. Some of that space is being used by the system itself to store items we may never use. Fonts, for instance.

In most versions of Windows fonts are stored in the System folder on your C: drive. Versions of Windows before XP were limited to storing around 1000 fonts. The most current version of Windows ships with over 1000 fonts just for non-Latin languages alone. That requires a rather substantial amount of storage space on your hard drive, space you may prefer to use for other purposes.

More fonts are added almost every time you install a word processing or web design program. Some Adobe programs install hundreds of additional fonts. A web designer or professional writer might have a use for many of those special and fancy fonts. For the rest of us they are just space hogs.

There are advantages to having a robust collection of fonts available to your computer. Very few people I know change the default setting in their browser to, “Force web pages to use my fonts”. Most of us prefer to see a web page as it was designed with the designer’s choice of fonts and colors.

Still, having thousands of fonts on your computer can become too much of a good thing.

Before you decide to dig into your font folder and start deleting fonts, there are some things to keep in mind.

Some fonts are essential to your system. You do not want to delete commonly used fonts like Arial and its family of derivative fonts, Courier, Helvetica, Microsoft Sans Serif, Verdana or Tahoma. Your computer will become unusable if you delete system fonts. Do not delete any fonts your browser uses. And when in doubt do not toss it out.

Still, you’ll no doubt find a rather large number of fonts that you have never used and never even knew were installed on your computer. The safest way to find out if a font is essential or unnecessary is to create a new folder in My Documents called “Font backups” and instead of deleting fonts right away, drag them from your System/Fonts folder to this new one. If after a week or so you haven’t noticed any problems caused by the absence of those fonts, burn that folder to a disk (just in case you ever want to reinstall them for any reason) then delete the “Font backups” folder.

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