If your storage drive is nearly full, you can’t manually download or transfer any files to your system. The drive’s performance also suffers a lot and even automatic processes like Windows updates won’t work.
You must regularly free up disk space to prevent any performance issues and optimize your Windows system.
To free up disk space, first review and delete unnecessary files, folders and applications. Then move on to clearing temporary files from your system.
You can also limit or disable features like system restore and hibernation that use up your disk space.
Delete or Move Personal Files
The first thing you should do to free up disk space is to go through all your personal files and folders and delete any unnecessary items.
- Look inside the User Profile folders (Documents, Downloads, and so on) and on other non-C Local Drives for such files and folders.
- If you find it tedious to manually go through all folders, use apps that give a visual representation of each file’s size. You can use free and open-source apps like WinDirStat and SquirrelDisk.
- If there’s an item you would need in the future but not now, it’s better to back it up to external drives or cloud storage.
- If you are using automatic backup features, make sure to delete all the redundant backups. The latest ones are all you’ll need.
- Also, if you got the computer or its storage drive from someone else, it may have hidden files and folders. So look out for those as well.
Uninstall Unnecessary Applications
Now, go through your installed application list and uninstall unnecessary ones. You can do so from the Control Panel’s Program and Features utility. For that,
- Open Run.
appwiz.cpland press Enter to load Programs and Features.
- Look for and select any unnecessary program. Click Uninstall.
- Follow the on-screen instructions.
It’s also better to Debloat Windows to free up disk space. Uninstall the built-in bloatware through PowerShell to do so.
Delete Old User Profiles
Creating a new user account and logging into it creates a dedicated user profile for the account that stores all the system and app user files.
Even after you delete the user accounts, this profile may still remain depending on the removal method.
So check if your system retains any old user profiles from inside the
C:\Users folder and delete them. Before that, go through them in case they have any important files.
Clean Up Disk Through Storage Settings
Small chunks of temporary files gradually accumulate and hog a lot of storage space. So you can free up a lot of disk space on your C drive by clearing these files.
- Press Windows + I to open Settings.
- Go to System > Storage > Temporary Files.
- Check all the categories of files you wish to delete. The Settings page displays their size and description as well.
- Click on Remove files.
- Restart your computer if you removed Windows Update Cleanup or similar data.
You can also enable Storage Sense to routinely clean these temporary system and app files.
Manually Clear Other Temporary Files
Using the above method will not clear all possible temporary files and folders from your system. To do so, manually navigate to the relevant folders and clear its contents.
The process is as follows:
- Open Run.
%temp%and press Enter. It will load the Temp folder inside the Local AppData directory.
- Select all the contents and permanently delete them.
- Skip all those files you can’t delete.
Enable OneDrive Files On-Demand
If you are using OneDrive to sync your user files with the cloud, you can use the Files On-Demand feature to free up some more disk space.
It makes these actual files only available online, but you can still open them on your system if you are connected to the internet.
- Open OneDrive.
- Right-click on the OneDrive icon on the Taskbar and select Settings.
- Go to Sync and backup and expand Advanced settings.
- Under Files On-Demain, select Free up disk space > Continue.
Keep in mind that you’ll get the Make sure OneDrive is running on your PC error if you try to open the synced files without internet access.
When hibernation is enabled, Windows creates a
hiberfil.sys file that stores most of the RAM and cache data after you hibernate the computer. This way, you can get back to the same state on the next boot and continue your work.
However, if you don’t usually hibernate your computer, the
hiberfil.sys file only takes up your disk space (approximately 40% of your RAM size).
In such cases, disable this feature to remove this file. You can do so using the Elevated Command Prompt.
- Open Run.
cmdand press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open the Elevated Command Prompt.
powercfg /h offor
powercfg /hibernate offand press Enter.
Manage System Restore Points
Another thing you can do to free up your disk space is to change the reserved space for the system restore points.
Having about 3-5 GBs should be enough for most users. So if you have more, lower it appropriately using the steps below:
- Open Run.
systempropertiesprotectionand press Enter. It will open the System Protection tab of System Properties.
- Click on Configure.
- Drag the slider to lower the Max Usage per your need.
- Click Apply and OK.
Then, create a restore point as soon as you can as lowering the Max Usage will delete all current restore points.
Delete Old Application’s User Files from AppData
Your system’s AppData folder stores most of the application user files from your system.
These files still remain even after you uninstall the associated application. So, it’s better to manually delete to free up more space.
I play a lot of indie games and their save files usually get stored in the AppData folders. While clearing them twice or thrice every year, I can usually free up 2-5 GB of disk space.