How to free up disk space in Windows - MrLiambi's blog


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Friday 23 September 2022

How to free up disk space in Windows

If you're finding that you're running low on storage space on your Windows machine there are several ways you can clean things up to free up room. 

Obviously, you could always purchase an additional drive to add more space, but if that's not an option then there are other things you can do. 

Start with Disk Cleanup

Windows has a tool built into it called Disk Cleanup. You can use this tool to remove files you've downloaded, temporary error reports, temporary internet files and more. 

To use Disk Cleanup, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Start menu by clicking the start button or the Windows key on your keyboard
  2. Type Disk Cleanup to search for the tool
  3. Select the drive you want to clean and click ok
  4. Select the files you want to delete and click ok
  5. Repeat the process and select  "clean up system files" at the bottom 
  6. Select other files to delete and click ok

Cleaning up system files can remove leftover Windows update files, Microsoft Defender files, upgrade logs and more. 

Empty your recycle bin

If you've been deleting files from your machine in an effort to free up space then one thing you might have overlooked is your recycle bin. 

When you delete files in Windows they're not fully deleted but are instead put into your recycle bin. This is ideal if you need to recover any of the files you might have accidentally deleted, but files in your recycle bin are still taking up space on your machine. You may well find that the recycle bin is stuffed full of large files that are still clogging up your machine even if you thought you'd got rid of them. 

To empty your recycle bin, right-click on it and click "empty recycle bin". 

If you'd like to be a bit more careful then right-click the bin and click open. Then you can see all the files you've deleted previously and check you're happy before you fully delete them forever. 

Change your recycle bin settings

Once you've emptied the bin, it might also pay to change the recycle bin settings. As standard Windows reserves a certain amount of space for files in the bin. When you reach the maximum space Windows will start deleting older files in the bin.

It's possible to adjust the amount of space the recycle bin is capable of holding and therefore stop it from clogging up your drive in future. 

To do this:

  1. Find the recycle bin on your desktop
  2. Right-click on it and click properties
  3. Select a maximum size for the bin (lower means it'll store less before it fully deletes)
  4. Or click "don't move files to the recycle bin. Remove files immediately when deleted."
  5. Click ok

Obviously, this move may mean that you have no way to recover files when you delete them. So be careful with these settings. 

Remove unused apps 

If you've been using your Windows machine for some time then the chances are you've got a lot of programs installed, some of which you probably don't need anymore. You might well find some apps that you don't use regularly, haven't used for a long time or are just taking up so much space that they need to go. 

One step to free up space on your Windows machine is to uninstall apps and programs. To do this follow these steps:

  1. Open the Start menu by clicking the start button or the Windows key on your keyboard
  2. Type Add or Remove Programs
  3. Click to open the app
  4. From there you'll see a list of installed apps, you can filter them by size or date installed to see which to delete
  5. Click the three dots on anything you don't need 
  6. Click uninstall and follow any further instructions that pop up
  7. Repeat the process for anything else you don't need

Move files to an external drive

One alternative to deleting files is to move them to another drive. It might be a bit obvious but you can use an external SSD to back up files and remove them from your Windows machine. 

This requires an additional purchase, but it pays to back up files anyway and storing might be better than deleting. 

Most drives of this sort only require you to connect the drive to your PC with a USB cable and then simply move the files you want to keep from your Windows machine to the external drive. 

  1. Plug the drive into your PC
  2. Open File Explorer
  3. Find the files you want to move
  4. Click CTRL+X to cut the files
  5. Open the external drive in Windows Explorer
  6. Press CTRL+V to paste onto the external drive

Alternatively, with the two locations open in different instances of file manager you can simply drag the files from one drive to the other. 

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