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How to Free Up Disk Space in Windows 10

How do you free up disk space with WIndows 10? OnServe shares insights into some practical ways to clear up precious disk space.

Free Up Disk Space in Windows 10

Regardless of the capacity of your device’s hard drive or solid-state drive, it will inevitably run out of space. So if you’re edging towards your PC’s physical storage limit, you need to learn a few quick tricks on how to reclaim a couple of gigabytes’ worth of disk space. Although these options may help you redeem significant storage space, adding an extra hard drive or replacing your current drive with a high-capacity SSD or HDD could be your long-term solution.

Having said that, here are eight tips for reclaiming substantial drive space in your Windows 10 device:

1: Empty your Recycle Bin

When you delete files or folders on your PC or laptop, Windows 10 does not eliminate them outright. Instead, the operating system stashes them into the Recycle Bin to allow you to restore deleted files in case they were deleted unintentionally or when you change your mind later. Unfortunately, this trades off disk space for convenience.

If you don’t intend to restore any deleted files later, simply empty the Recycle Bin to reclaim the storage space. To achieve that, right-click the Recycle Bin icon on the desktop and choose Empty Recycle Bin. You can alternatively open the Recycle Bin and select files inside to delete permanently.

2: Clear the Downloads Folder

More often, the Downloads folder on your Windows 10 laptop or PC carries a lot of junk files and program installers you’ll rarely ever re-use. From File Explorer, select This PC > Downloads and delete any files you don’t intend to use. To identify folders and files that take up the most space, switch to List view and filter files by size. You can then select files to delete to reclaim some disk space quickly.

3: Use Files On-Demand in OneDrive

Windows 10 operating system comes with a built-in OneDrive to allow you to back up photos and documents to the cloud quickly. OneDrive also provides Files On-Demand functionality, enabling you to download backed-up files to your local storage only on a needs basis.

Enable Files On-Demand in OneDrive by selecting the OneDrive icon on the Windows 10 taskbar and choosing Help & Settings > Settings. Once the Microsoft OneDrive dialog box shows up, select the Settings tab and check the box next to Save to download files as you use them.

When the Files On-Demand functionality is active, you can directly offload your backed-up files and folders as you wish by right-clicking and selecting Free up space. The placeholder icons of downloaded items will show up all the time. By attempting to access an offloaded file, the system will prompt OneDrive to download it locally.

4: Leverage Storage Pane in Settings

Under Windows 10 Settings, there is a Storage pane to help you figure out data types that take up maximum storage space on your PC. Head over to Start > Settings > System > Storage to access Storage Pane Settings. You’ll see storage categories such as Temporary Files, Apps & Features, Pictures, Music, etc. You can then open any of the categories and remove space-consuming files and programs.

The Temporary Files folder particularly contains storage-intensive temporary files, such as the Recycle Bin, the Downloads folder, and Windows Update cache. Once inside, pick what you want to delete and choose Remove files.

5: Uninstall Apps You Don’t Use

Your Windows 10 device probably has multiple apps you’ve never used and you’ll likely not use. They could be bloatware that shipped with your computer or apps you’ve installed and forgotten about. To figure out which applications are taking up disk space, open the Settings menu, head over to Apps > Apps & features, and select Sort by size. To uninstall an app from the list, simply click the app and select Uninstall.

If you run legacy programs on Windows 10, they may not all show up on this list. To identify these programs:
1.    Go to Control Program by searching it from the start menu.
2.    Choose programs and click “uninstall a program” to view a list of legacy programs on your computer.
3.    Sort the list by app size and uninstall the apps you don’t need by left-clicking on them and clicking the Uninstall button above the list.

6: Activate Storage Sense

Under the Storage pane, there is a feature called Storage Sense. By activating it, you give Windows 10 permission to automatically delete temporary files on your computer.

Head over to Start > Settings > System > Storage > Configure Storage Sense. You can also select “run it now” to access Storage Sense settings and turn on the switch under Storage Sense to activate it.

Additionally, you can tweak the settings to define how you want Storage Sense to operate on your computer. For instance, you can specify how often you want it to delete files in your Downloads folder and Recycle Bin or when it should run, like when your PC is low on disk space.

7: Use Disk Cleanup

The legacy Disk Cleanup utility offers similar functionality to Storage Sense and allows you to delete multiple temporary files quickly. You can access it by searching for Disk Cleanup from the Start menu.

Next, check the boxes next to the files you want to delete, such as Windows Update Cleanup, System error memory dump files, Temporary Internet Files, etc. Finally, select OK to delete the files and free up some space.

8: Clear Browser Cache

Whenever you surf the internet, modern browsers usually cache data to make subsequent site visits faster. When you’re crunched for disk space, clearing browser cache can be a quick way to free up approximately 500 megabytes to one gigabyte of disk space. For Google Chrome, head over to the Chrome menu and select Settings > Privacy and security > Clear browsing data. The procedure is nearly the same for other browsers such as Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Edge.

Final Thoughts

With the above tips, you’ve probably managed to free up enough space in your Windows 10 device. Consider setting up Storage Sense to automatically clean your system regularly and save yourself the manual hassle. But whenever you want to reclaim more disk space, working your way through these tips can be a viable option.

More importantly, working with a trusted IT service provider can help you avoid many IT hurdles. When you partner with OnServe IT experts, you can enjoy hassle-free, secure, and reliable technology solutions and support around the clock. We work with business professionals, healthcare organizations, and municipal governments in Kingston, Brockville, and throughout Eastern Ontario. Contact us today to schedule a consultation!