suffer-cait wrote:the idea here is to not have to get an external drive. but maybe i can find a loner.
If you need all those files, you can always backup your machine, install the new drive, reinstall OS X, and during the install, pull from your backup (assuming time machine here). I upgraded my hard drive to a solid state drive, picked up a USB3 external enclosure, and have my old hard drive sit in that as a backup drive/large file storage. It sits in my laptop bag, doesn't take much space at all.
If you have a Macbook Air, I'm afraid there isn't much in the way of upgrading those hard drives for a reasonable price, and an external drive is probably your best bet.
If your aim is to not spend money, I'm not sure what else you can do. As far as I'm concerned, there should always be at least one external HD that is the same size or larger than your internal drive, used for backups. It is never a bad investment to have a back up, and generally external drives will last the lifespan of a few computers.