If you are using your system for long enough, you will eventually run out of space. This is especially true if you are using a smaller 60 or 120 gig SSD for your system drive. Obviously, when you have no more space on your boot drive you cannot install any new software or add files. To make things worse, your system can potentially become slow. So, if you ever received the insufficient storage space warning, here are some tips to free up disk space in Windows.
How to Analyze the Disk Space?
Before doing anything, it is important that you analyze your disk space. It helps you finding which folders or files are using most of the space on your hard drive. To analyze the disk space, you can use a free program called WinDirStat.
So, download the application and install it. After installing, open the application by searching for it in the start menu. Now, WinDirStat will ask what drives to scan. Just select the drive you want to scan and click on the button “Ok”. In my case, I’m just scanning my SSD boot drive.
Depending on the disk size and speed, the scan may take some time. So, sit back and relax. And once the scanning is done, the application will show you which folders are using up all the space. By expanding the folders, you can pinpoint the space hogs.
Free Up Hard Disk Space On Windows
1. Cleanup Recycle Bin
More often than not, most of us regularly delete files and folders for different reasons by clicking on the “Delete” button on our keyboard. This action will instantly move all those files to the Recycle Bin. Now, the more files you put inside the Recycle Bin, the more disk space it will be using on your boot drive. So as a first thing, you should do is, always clear the Recycle Bin to gain back some lost space.
Emptying recycle bin is nothing hard, you can do it in a click or two. Just right-click on the Recycle Bin and then select the option “Empty Recycle Bin” and you are good to go.
Since the above action will permanently delete the files, make sure that the Recycle Bin has no files that you want to recover. Also, in future if you want to permanently delete files on Windows (without putting them on Recycle Bin), simply select the file and folder and press Shift + Delete.
2. Use Built-in Disk Cleanup Tool
Windows stores a lot of files like – the temp files, cache, old Windows installation files, etc., in hidden places. These files can sometimes take a lot of space. To get back that space, type “Disk Cleanup” in the Start menu and open it.
Now select the system drive and click on the “OK” button.
Windows will initiate the scan. After the scan, select all the checkboxes and click on the button “OK”. This action will clear all those unnecessary files to free up some space.
3. Uninstall Unused Applications
The more programs you install, the more disk space will be used to facilitate that software. This is especially true for big applications like Photoshop, Office, etc. So, from time to time you need to audit all your applications and uninstall those that you don’t need or use that often.
Fortunately, it is very easy to uninstall a program in Windows. To start off, search for “Programs and Features” in the start menu and open it.
The above action will open the Programs and Features window. Here, right-click on the application you want to uninstall and then select the option “Uninstall“. Now, follow the uninstallation wizard and you should be good.
If you want to remove the application without any traces then use a dedicated third-party uninstaller. If there are applications that you don’t use that often then try to find the portable version so that you don’t have to install it on your system.
4. Manage your Games via Steam
If you are a gamer then it is a good idea to manage all your games via Steam. Even if you have bought the games outside of Steam, you can link them to your steam account. The reason I say this is Steam makes managing your games hassle free. Moreover, when using Steam you don’t have to install all your games on the C drive.
Steam makes this process easy using a simple feature called Library Folders. In fact, I use the same feature to reduce the space usage in my boot drive.
Creating a new library folder is very easy. To start off, launch Steam and navigate to “Steam > Settings“.
In the Settings window, navigate to “Download” and then click on the button “Steam Library Folders“.
To add a new library, click on the button “Add Library Folder.”
In the browse window, navigate to the location where you want to install all your games and then click on the button “Select” and the library will be added.
If you have multiple libraries, Steam will ask you to choose a library when installing a game.
5. Reduce System Restore Space
System Restore in Windows is very useful and it lets you restore your system in case of any mishaps. However, the system restore feature can take up a good chunk of your disk space. So, reducing or managing the System Restore feature is important.
To do that, search for “Advanced System Settings” in the start menu and open it.
Here, navigate to the “System Protection” tab. Now, select your boot drive and click the button “Configure“.
This will open the System Restore settings window. Here, slide the slider to adjust how much space you want to reserve for System Restore. The more space you can allot, the more restore points Windows can save. Generally, 10 to 15 percent of your C drive space would suffice.
6. Disable Hibernation
Hibernation is a very useful feature. Generally, most laptops come with the hibernation feature enabled. However, it will consume a lot of space. So, if you are not using the feature then it is good to disable it to reclaim the unused space. Enabling or disabling hibernation is pretty simple in Windows.
To start off, press “Win + X” and select the option “Command Prompt (Admin)”. This action will open the command prompt with admin rights.
To disable hibernation, simply execute the below command and you are good to go.
powercfg.exe /hibernate off
In future, if you ever want to enable the hibernation then use the below command.
powercfg.exe /hibernate on
7. Find and Remove Duplicate Files and Folders
It does not happen that often but there will be times when your system space is being eaten by the duplicate files and folders. For instance, you might’ve downloaded movies, copied them to the other drive and forgot to delete the original files. In those situations, it is better to find and delete the duplicate files and folders.
To remove duplicate files you can use CCleaner. So, download and install the application. Now, open it, navigate to “Tools” and then select the option “Duplicate Finder.” Here, let the defaults be and click on the button “Search”
After finishing the scan, CCleaner will list all the duplicate files. Carefully select the files you want to delete and then select the option “Delete Selected.” If you are not confident of what file to delete then don’t make any changes.
Hope that helps and do comment below sharing your thoughts and experiences about using the above tips to free up space in Windows.
Also Read: 10 Tips to Speed Up Slow Windows 10 PC