Free Up Space in Windows

1. Delete junk files using Storage sense

On Windows 10, Storage sense is a feature that includes basic options to allow you to quickly free up space by deleting junk files from your device, including the previous version of Windows 10 after an upgrade, which can take up around 10GB of space or more.

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click on Storage.
  4. Under “Storage sense,” click on Change how we free up space link.

  5. Under “Temporary files,” check the files you want to delete, including:
    • Delete temporary files that my apps aren’t using.
    • Delete files that have been in the recycle bin for over 30 days.
    • Delete files in the Downloads folder that haven’t changed in 30 days.
  6. Under “Free up space now,” you can also select the option to delete the previous installation of Windows 10. However, this option is only available during the first ten days after installing a new feature update.

After completing these steps, you can click the Clean now button to free up space immediately.

You don’t need to turn on the Storage sense toggle switch to use this feature, but if you do, you’ll be enabling this feature to automatically delete junk files when your device is running out of space.

2. Delete junk system files using Disk Cleanup

Disk Cleanup has been around for years, and it’s a tool commonly known by advanced users to delete additional unnecessary files from your device, including system files, system restore and shadow copies, which can help you to reclaim valuable space on your system.

Deleting system files

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. On “This PC,” right-click the main system drive and select Properties.

  3. Click the Disk Cleanup button.

  4. Click the Cleanup system files button.

  5. Select the files you want to delete to free up space, including:
    • Windows Update Cleanup.
    • Windows upgrade log files.
    • Downloaded Program Files.
    • Temporary Internet Files.
    • System created Windows Error Reporting.
    • Delivery Optimization Files.
    • Recycle Bin.
    • Temporary files.
    • Temporary Windows Installation Files.
    • Previous Windows installation(s).

    Note: The available options you can select may be different. For example, if Windows 10 already delete the previous version, you won’t find the “Previous Windows installation(s)” option.

  6. Click OK.
  7. Click Delete Files.

Once you’ve completed the steps, depending on the space the files were using, you’ll have more available space to store more valuable files.

Deleting System Restore and Shadow Copies

If you usually create System Restore points and use Shadow Copies (volume snapshot typically used by Windows Backup), you can also delete these files to free up additional space.

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. On “This PC,” right-click the main system drive and select Properties.
  3. Click the Disk Cleanup button.
  4. Click the Cleanup system files button.
  5. Click the More options tab.
  6. Under “System Restore and Shadow Copies,” click the Cleanup button.
  7. Click Delete to confirm.

3. Uninstall apps and games you never use

Uninstalling applications that you don’t use, such as those that came preinstalled with your computer or you’ve installed manually but only used once can help to reclaim some additional space.

Also, games you installed from the Microsoft Store or other sources eat up a lot of storage, as such it’s a good idea to remove at least those you don’t play anymore.

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Apps.
  3. Click on Apps & features.
  4. Select the app or game, and click the Uninstall button.

    Quick Tip: Use the Sort by drop-down menu and select Size to list apps and games by size, which makes it a bit easier to find out the items you should consider removing.

  5. Click the Uninstall button again to confirm.

After completing the steps, you can repeat the same instructions to remove more games and apps you may have installed on your device.

4. Use OneDrive Files On-Demand feature

OneDrive Files On-Demand is a new feature introduced to Windows 10 with the Fall Creators Update, which allows you to access your files stored in the cloud using File Explorer without having to sync them and use local storage.

If you’re running out of space, it’s possible to use Files On-Demand to upload and keep your files in OneDrive and download them only when you need them.

Enabling OneDrive Files On-Demand

  1. Right-click the OneDrive cloud icon in the notification area, and select Settings.

  2. Click on the Settings tab.
  3. Under “Files On-Demand,” check the Save space and download files as you use them to enable the feature.

  4. Click OK.

Freeing up space

After enabling Files On-Demand, you can move your files to the OneDrive folder and make them available only online to free up space.

  1. Open your OneDrive folder.
  2. Select the files and folders to keep only in the cloud.
  3. Right-click the selection, and select Free up space.

In addition to freeing up space for files already stored in OneDrive, you can make more room by moving more files from your account’s default folders to the OneDrive folder, and then use the same steps mentioned above to free up space.

If you want to sync all your files located on the Desktop, Documents, and other folders without manually having to move them to the OneDrive folder, use this guide.

Once you’ve completed the steps, you’ll be able to access your files using File Explorer, but they will appear with a white cloud with blue borders icon, and you’ll need an internet connection to open them.

It’s worth noting that if you’re only using the free version of OneDrive, you can only store up to 5GB of storage in the cloud. You’ll need to get a subscription to use more storage.

5. Reduce Windows 10 footprint using Compact OS

Compact OS is a tool introduced with Windows 10 that allows you to compress the installation files and built-in desktop applications reducing the footprint and freeing up space.

Warning: This is a friendly reminder that you’ll be modifying system files, and while it’s safe to use the tool, bad things can always happen. It’s recommended to make a full backup of your PC before proceeding.

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Command Prompt, right-click the result, and select Run as administrator.
  3. Type the following command to compress the Windows 10 and applications and press Enter:

    Compact.exe /CompactOS:always

After completing the steps, Compact OS will begin the process, which can take anywhere between 10 to 20 minutes, and the best part is that you don’t even need to restart your device.

At any time, you can revert the changes using the same instructions, but on step No. 3, use this command Compact.exe /CompactOS:never and press Enter.

Using this method, you’ll be reclaiming around 2GB, but the amount of space will vary per installation.

Although this method won’t noticeable affect performance, you should only consider this option on a device with limited storage or when you don’t have another choice.

6. Disable Hibernation on Windows 10

Hibernation is a feature that saves the content in memory to the hard drive allowing you to shut down your device completely without losing your current session.

While Hibernation is a useful feature, it requires several gigabytes of space to save the content in RAM to the hiberfil.sys file on the hard drive.

If you want to optimize the available storage on your computer, you can disable the feature to free up space.

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Command Prompt, right-click the result, and select Run as administrator.
  3. Type the following command to turn off Hibernation and press Enter:

    powercfg /hibernate off

The only issue turning off this feature is that you’ll lose the ability to use Hibernation, but it’s a suitable option when you’re running low on storage, and you need space immediately.

7. Move files, apps, games to an external hard drive

At the beginning of this guide, we said not to get an external hard drive right away to overcome the storage limitation, but if after trying all methods you’re still low in capacity, you should consider getting a new drive.

Using an external drive, you can move existing files and configure Windows 10 to store new data in the new storage. Also, you can move certain Microsoft Store apps and games to the new hard drive to make more room on the main system drive.

Moving existing files to a new location

  1. Connect the removable drive.
  2. Open File Explorer.
  3. Navigate to the folder with the files and folders you want to move.
  4. Select the items you want to relocate.
  5. Under “Home” tab, click the Move to button.

  6. Select the Choose location option.
  7. Select the new drive.
  8. Click the Move button.

You’ll need to repeat the steps to move other locations to the new external drive.

Saving new files to a new drive

To automatically save files to a new location, you can use these steps:

  1. Connect the removable drive.
  2. Open Settings.
  3. Click on System.
  4. Click on Storage.
  5. Under “More storage settings,” click the Change where new content is saved link.

  6. Using the drop-down menu, select the location that Windows 10 should use to save files automatically for each content type.

After using the steps, moving forward, Windows 10 and supported apps will save files to the new specified location.

Moving apps and games to a new drive

On Windows 10, it’s also possible to move certain Microsoft Store apps and games to a different storage device without having to reinstall them.

  1. Connect the removable drive.
  2. Open Settings.
  3. Click on Apps.
  4. Click on Apps & features.
  5. Select an app or game.
  6. Click the Move bottom.
  7. Use the drop-down menu to select the new location.
  8. Click the Move button.

You’ll need to repeat the steps to move more items to the external drive.

The only caveat using any of these options is that you must have the external storage connected at all times.

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