Q. I have a closet full of compact discs (some out of print) that I’m not quite ready to part with, yet they take up way too much room. I’d like to convert them all to MP3 files, but my laptop doesn’t have a disc drive and its hard drive is too small to hold several gigabytes of audio files. What do you suggest?

A. The web is full of CD-transfer services that promise to convert music on discs to digital audio files for a price, but you can do it yourself with time, patience and inexpensive external hardware. Even though built-in disc drives began to disappear from laptops several years ago to make the computers lighter and more mobile-friendly, you can still find USB-based external CD drives for $25 or less online; Apple’s $79 SuperDrive, designed for its Mac laptops, is noticeably higher priced.

Your computer may already have software to convert the tracks on a CD to MP3 audio files, like Windows Media Player or Apple’s iTunes software for Windows and Mac; free and commercial audio programs can also convert the songs on the discs. If you decide to use iTunes and have a huge number of CDs, you can set the program’s preferences to automatically import the tracks as MP3 files and then eject the disc; that way, you do not have to sit there and watch until the disc is converted to eject it and start the next one.

If you do not have room on your laptop’s hard drive to store files converted from compact discs, you can store the collection on an external hard drive — one-terabyte drives can be found for $60 or less at many popular retailers. Uploading the converted files to a cloud server, like Amazon Music, Google Play Music or iTunes Match is another way to move the music off your computer’s packed hard drive and also make it accessible to any mobile gadgets you may also have.