The storage space on every device we use tends to fill up on its own after a period of usage. This happens mostly because of the app cache, temp files, and other needless and redundant files accumulating over time.
If you have a habit of hoarding files with large sizes, it is obvious for the disk space to fill up faster. Windows offers some built-in disk clean-up utilities that can help you clean up the cache and temp files.
However, you need to manually clean your personal files that you no longer need. You can also make use of cloud storage services like OneDrive to reduce disk usage.
Empty the Recycle Bin
Whenever you delete a file on your local device, it gets sent to the Recycle bin. The files get stored indefinitely in the respective volume. For instance if you delete a file from C: drive, it is again stored in
C:\$Recycle.Bin until the capacity of the recycle bin is maxed out.
Usually, the maximum storage capacity of the recycle bin is set to around 5 percent of the total disk space. Therefore it is best to empty the recycle bin manually on a regular basis. To get it done, you just have to right-click on the recycle bin icon on the desktop and select empty recycle bin.
If you are about to delete a file that you are certain you don’t need again, it is ideal to permanently delete it rather than send it to the recycle bin. For this, select the file and press the Shift + delete key. This will permanently delete the file from the disk.
Uninstall Unused Programs
Windows come preinstalled with some bloatware that can be of no use to you. Also, there might be programs you have installed but have not used ever since. You can uninstall such programs and free up some precious space on your drive.
- Press Windows Key + I to open Settings.
- Go to Apps > Installed Apps.
- Find the app that you don’t use or that comes as a bloatware preinstalled on your device.
- Click on the three vertical dots on its side and select Uninstall.
Use Disk Cleanup Utility
The temporary files, Delivery optimization files, thumbnails, and windows shadow copies are some of the items that are to be blamed mostly for using up your disk space. To clear out all of these unnecessary files you can use the Disk Cleanup Utility.
- Press Windows Key + R, type
cleanmgr.exe, and hit enter.
- Select volume from the pop up box.
- On the Disk Cleanup tab, Under the Files to delete section, select the items you wish to clear out from the system.
- Click on OK.
Apart from this, if you have created multiple restore points, it could occupy heaps of disk space on your computer. You can clean up the files created by the system restore and also the shadow copies from the Disk clean-up utility to free up some storage space.
- Click on the Cleanup system files button.
- Select Appropriate volume from the pop-up box.
- Go to the More options tab.
- Under the System Restore and Shadow Copies section, click on the Clean-up button.
Note: The system restore points would also be deleted if you clean up the Shadow copies.
Enable Storage Sense
On Windows 10 and 11 devices, Microsoft has integrated a feature known as the storage sense that lets the users free up disk space. It can clean up the needless items in the computer that is only occupying disk space such as the temporary files and the contents in the recycle bin.
When enabled, this feature also removes the files in the local device that are already cloud-backed. The storage sense is even set to run automatically when it senses low disk space. However, you can also configure the cleanup schedule to be daily, weekly, or monthly.
- Press the Windows key + I to open Settings.
- Go to System > Storage.
- Under the Storage management section, click the Storage Sense slider to turn it on.
- Now click on Storage Sense.
- Configure the Storage sense settings like Automatic user content cleanup, and cleaning cloud-backed content, and temporary files.
- You can even run a manual Storage sense cleanup by clicking on the Run Storage Sense now button.
Manage the Downloads Folder
The downloads folder can contain many files that you have downloaded over time. Some of these files can be useful while most of them can be deleted. It is therefore better to sort out large files and clear out some space occupied by unnecessary files.
Use File Compression
Windows operating system has an inbuilt NTFS Compression feature that reduces the file size to some extent. The files that are compressed using this feature, are automatically decompressed by the system when you try to access them.
However, this cycle of compression and decompression can affect performance. Therefore, this feature is suitable to compress the files and the backup drives that you rarely use. For instance, a backup volume.
You can compress an entire drive as well using this feature. However, it is not ideal to use it on a system volume.
- Open the File explorer.
- Right-click on the Drive partition you want to compress and select Properties.
- Check on the option Compress this drive to save disk space.
- Click on Apply.
- Choose the option Apply changes to drive, subfolder and files and click on OK.
If you want to use the NTFS compression on a backup folder or a file you can do it by following these steps.
- Open the File explorer and navigate to the folder or the file you want to compress.
- Right-click on the folder and select Properties.
- Click on the Advanced button.
- Check the Compress contents to save disk space option and click on OK.
- Click on Apply.
- Choose to Apply changes to this folder, subfolders, and files, and click on OK.
- You will be asked for confirmation to change the attributes. Click on continue.
Besides this, you can also use the compression tools like Winzip and WinRAR to compress the files and folders.
Delete Windows Update Cache
The Windows update cache can occupy a large space in your system volume. Deleting this cache file will free up a lot of space and also solve issues with Windows updates.
- Press Windows Key + X and open Terminal (Admin).
net stop wuauservand hit enter. This will stop the Windows update service.
- Now open the file explorer and enter this file path in the address bar.
- Delete all the contents in this directory.
- Again go to the command prompt windows and execute this command.
net start wuauserv
Note: Deleting the update cache will delete the pending Windows updates that haven’t been installed yet. You will also lose your update history and ability to revert any updates installed.
Use Cloud Storage Services
Another thing you can do to clear up the storage space is to use the cloud to store the data. There are files on your computer that you generally do not use or open such as photos and videos. Those files can be uploaded to the cloud to relieve some amount of space on the disk.
Cloud storage, however, comes at a cost. Some cloud service providers only offer limited storage for free and extending the facility requires you to pay. Microsoft for instance offers 5Gb of free storage on OneDrive after an initial sign-up for the Microsoft account.