It seems that no matter how much hard drive space you have, it’ll end up getting filled eventually. Even your Windows operating system will start to eat more and more files as time goes on.
If you’re starting to run out of space, there are a number of small tips you can use to free up some space on your hard drive. This guide will teach you how to clear up space without losing any important files or Windows features.
First Tip: Trash Your Unused Files
Keeping your hard drive free of space is a little like keeping your house clean. The first place to start is by getting rid of the files you don’t use anymore. Thankfully, there are a lot of junk files kept on the hard drive that you’ll never actually need – these are called temporary files and these are essentially junk files that Windows has relegated to a small unused corner of your hard drive.
Learn how you can remove the temporary files from your system by following the steps that are provided below.
- Press the Windows Key and the I key together to open the Settings menu. You can also right-click the Windows menu at the bottom left hand corner and choose Settings from the menu.
- Click System, and then Storage
- When on the Storage page, choose which hard drive you want to analyze. There could be only one, or several hard drives, depending on your Windows setup.
- On the next screen, you can find a summary of the content that takes the most space on the disk. You can click any of them to learn more and see a more detailed breakdown on where the files are and which can be safely removed.
- You can click any folder location to open up the Windows Explorer and delete files that you don’t need any more.
- Going back to the Storage breakdown screen, you can find an listing called “Temporary Files”. Click that to remove any temporary files from the locations you choose. (eg. Download folders or Trash)
2. Get Rid Of Your Old Version History
One of the most powerful features of Windows is that it can store the version history of your files. This feature can be useful for when you want to revert changes on your system or certain files. This feature can take up a lot of storage and isn’t always necessary.
If you know that you don’t need any files from the past, you can remove your old version history. Make sure to backup your files on an external drive before starting this step.
- Open the Control Panel, by pressing Windows Key + X, or by typing in the search box, or by selecting it from the Windows Menu
- Click File History
- Choose Advanced settings. Here you can filter by the length of time, eg. weeks, months or forever. You can then filter by the the frequency of backups (in minutes, hours or every day).
- To remove older versions, click “Clean up versions” and choose how far back you’d like to go.
- Click Clean up and Save Changes to remove your older version history.
By carefully adjusting the version history timespan settings, you can optimize the usage of your hard drive space. This way, you can keep some recent version history changes, but get rid of the ones you won’t need.
3. Remove The Applications You Never Use
Documents can take a lot of space, but applications easily take up the most space. Programs like Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Office can take up a reasonable amount of space, as can video games or big software suites. If you think there might be software on your PC that you don’t use, you can clean up some space by removing it.
To get rid of any old Applications, you’ll need to uninstall them by using the Windows Apps & Features page. Follow the steps below to learn how to access this section and find applications you no longer use.
- Press the Windows Key and I key together to open the Settings menu. You can also click the Windows menu at the bottom left hand corner, or type into the search box.
- Click System and then Apps & Features
- Explore the list of applications. Click on the applications you no longer need and click uninstall.
You can remove applications one by one, as many as you like. Usually the uninstaller leaves small settings-files still on your disk and won’t uninstall everything, this is to make it convenient for you to return using the application. These things won’t however, take much space.
4. Remove Old Windows Installations
Some Windows upgrade versions may have left old Windows system files on your hard drive. If you did not install a fresh copy of Windows, but upgraded from an old one, you may be able to restore some storage space by removing the older installation.
You can check if there are old Windows versions still stored on your disk by opening the File Explorer.
- Open the File Explorer from the Windows Menu or press the Windows key and the E key together.
- Right-click your boot partition (usually C:)
- Choose Properties and click Disk Cleanup
- Click Clean Up System Files
- Scroll down the list of checkboxes to find the option “Previous Windows Installations”
- If it is indicated that previous Windows Installations are taking up storage space, you can use this window to remove them
Doing a proper backup instead of having old system file versions can be a better way to ensure that you can go back to past installations should you ever need to.