I have just spent the past hour cleaning up my hard-drive and am happy to report that the old laptop's sudden transition from Lightning Jack to Slothful Slug has been reversed. I'm not one for downloading endless bits and pieces, so was surprised to see that the machine only had a couple of gig of hard drive space left, of a 140 GB total.
Here are some lickety-quick steps to take to reclaim your ones and zeroes:
1) Run CCleaner (free) - I do this on a routine basis so it had little impact this time around.
2) Download a great little programme called Treesize. This allows you to see where the memory is being eaten up. e.g.
3) What nonsense is this RRbackups folder...it's eating up half of my hard drive! I would never have found it without Treesize because the folder is cheekily hidden from view.
It turns out that RRbackupsis a folder that Thinkpads create to save backed up versions of the machine. My "ThinkVantage" system was set to create these back-ups each week, hence the massive file size. Solution: disable the back-up functionality and delete all the subfolders in RRbackups. Result: 50GB saved!
5) Run DiskCleanup and run the Windows Update Cleanup (0.5GB). Annoyingly, when Windows Updates are installed, loads of patch 'sxs' files are saved to the WinSXS folder. Mine is over 12GB but I could only savely remove 0.5GB using the above tool. I'm wouldn't remove these manually unless you know what you are doing (in which care, I suspect you might decide to leave them put anyway).
That's the low hanging fruit and it's plenty sufficient to make my machine perform like a young buck again.