12 best ways to free up hard drive space on Windows 10


2. Free up space deleting junk files using Storage Sense on Windows 10

Storage Sense is a feature available on Windows 10, which offers the necessary settings to delete junk files from the system drive as well as secondary drives. Using this feature, you can quickly clean up previous installation files after an upgrade and temporary files to free up space to store more important data and improve the drive efficiency.

Remove junk files using Storage Sense

To free up space using Storage Sense, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click on Storage.
  4. Under the “Storage” section, click the Configure Storage Sense or run it now option.

    Windows 10 Storage Sense configure option

    Source: Windows Central

  5. Under the “Temporary Files” section, check the Delete temporary files that apps aren’t using option.
  6. Use the Recycle Bin drop-down menu to specify how to clear already deleted files you don’t need.
  7. Use the Downloads drop-down menu to specify how to clean up files you downloaded from the internet.

    Quick tip: If you need to delete the most amount of files, use the 1 day option. Also, the Downloads folder may contain essential files, which means that it’s recommended to back up those important files manually before running Storage Sense.

  8. Under the “Locally available cloud content” section, use the drop-down menu to specify how long OneDrive content synced to the device becomes online-only.

    Storage Sense advanced settings

    Source: Windows Central

    Quick note: This option is part of OneDrive Files On-Demand, which allows you to access your documents, pictures, videos, and other files using File Explorer, but without the need to sync them, significantly reducing the storage usage on your device. When your computer is running low on space, you can use it to make files only available in the cloud. You’ll still be able to see them using File Explorer, but their content will download only when you need them with an internet connection.

  9. Under the “Free up space now” section, check the Delete previous versions of Windows option (if applicable).

    Storage sense delete previous version of Windows 10

    Source: Windows Central

    Quick note: If this option is available, you may be able to free up anywhere from 10GB to 20GB of space if you recently upgraded to a new version of Windows 10.

  10. Click the Clean now button.

After you complete the steps, Storage Sense will run and delete unnecessary files from the device to reclaim more space.

Enable Storage Sense

Although you can use Storage Sense manually, you should enable the feature to run the storage maintenance automatically to prevent running out of space quickly.

To set up Storage Sense to run automatically, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click on Storage.
  4. Under the “Storage” section, click the Configure Storage Sense or run it now option.

    Windows 10 Storage Sense configure option

    Source: Windows Central

  5. Turn on the Storage Sense toggle switch.
  6. Use the Run Storage Sense drop-down menu and select the best option for your situation:

    • Every day.
    • Every week.
    • Every month.
    • During low free disk space (recommended).

    Storage Sense enable option

    Source: Windows Central

Once you complete the steps, Storage Sense will run automatically at the schedule that you specified.

Remove temporary files with Storage Sense

Storage Sense allows you to delete temporary system and apps files, which help you reclaim several gigabytes of space.

To delete temporary files with the Settings app, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click on Storage.
  4. Under the “Local Disk (C:)” section, click the Temporary files item. (If the item isn’t available, click the Show more categories option.)

    Storage Sense Temporary files item

    Source: Windows Central

  5. Check all the items you want to clear to free up space. For example:

    • Downloads.
    • Delivery Optimization Files.
    • Temporary files.
    • Thumbnails.
    • Microsoft Defender Antivirus.
    • Recycle Bin.
    • Temporary Windows installation files.
    • DirectX Shader Cache.
    • System created Windows Error Reporting Files.
    • Temporary Internet Files.
    • Previous Windows installation(s).

    Quick tip: The available items may vary in your installation. If you want to select the Downloads item, before clearing these files, make sure to understand that this option deletes everything stored in your “Downloads” folder.

  6. Click the Remove files button.

    Windows 10 delete temporary files

    Source: Windows Central

After you complete the steps, the files you selected will delete permanently, freeing up space for more important files.

See hard drive usage on Windows 10

While you’re probably already aware that your device is running low on space, you may still be wondering which files are using the most space to know the data that you need to clean up.

To view the storage usage on a computer, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click on Storage.
  4. Under the “Local Disk C:” section, click the Show more categories option.

    Storage Sense show more categories option for temporary files

    Source: Windows Central

  5. See how the storage is being utilized.

    Windows 10 hard drive usage view

    Source: Windows Central

  6. Select each category to see even more details and actions that you can take to free up space.

After you complete the steps, you’ll have a better understanding of the storage usage on your device and the areas of focus to free up space.

For example, clicking the System & reserved category, you’ll see how much space the installation of Windows 10 is using. Also, how much space virtual memory, hibernation files, system restore, and the amount of storage the system is reserving for updates (if applicable) are occupying on the local drive.





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