One of the most common and frustrating problems that PC users face is running out of disk space. Fortunately, you don’t always have to delete your files in order to free up a few extra gigabytes. Windows 10 includes a set of tools (Disk Cleanup Tool) that can assist you in decluttering your computer without having to touch any of your personal files.
If you’re running out of space on your hard drive, the first thing you should do is figure out which files are causing the problem. On the main page of the Settings app (cog icon above the power button in the Start menu), select the “System” category. Click the “Storage” link in the left navigation menu from here.
You’ll see an overview of all the storage drives connected to your device on this screen. To declutter, select the item you want to declutter. Because it’s the most likely to run out of space, we’ll assume you’ll be using your main system drive for this tutorial – the one where Windows is installed. You’ll see a breakdown of storage usage by content type after a few moments.
You can see a more detailed overview of how they’re using space by clicking any of the categories. The majority of pages will also provide you with a set of options for taking immediate action and freeing up space. Some of these may be quick fixes, such as getting rid of some of your never-played music or deleting emails older than a year.
“Temporary files” is the most important category for our purposes. Windows 10 generates a large number of internal system files over time that can be deleted without causing any problems. To see an overview of the temporary files stored on your system, click the category.
Depending on when you last ran this procedure, you may be able to free up several gigabytes of space. The Windows Update and Delivery Optimisation categories are usually where the most space is saved. Windows saves downloaded updates even after they’ve been installed by default. They can, however, be safely removed, allowing you to save more of your own data.
The kinds and sizes of temporary file displayed here will vary with your individual system. Examine the file types displayed and mark each one for deletion by clicking the checkbox next to it. To begin the deletion process, click the “Remove files” button at the top of the list. It may take some time to clean up all of the content if there is a lot of it.
It’s also worth checking out the Maps category, as the optional offline maps in Windows 10 can eat up several gigabytes of your hard drive. If you don’t use any of the maps you’ve previously downloaded, it might be a good idea to delete them. Similarly, removing infrequently used apps from the “Apps & games” list is a simple way to reduce bloat without touching your own files.
Hopefully, your storage drive has become a little more spacious. However, if you want to keep it from filling up again, you’ll need to do more work. When your hard drive’s free space starts to run out, Windows 10 has a feature called Storage Sense that can automate the task of cleaning it up.
Its settings can be found on the main “Storage” settings page. To enable Storage Sense, simply click the toggle button to the “On” position. When your hard drive starts to run out of space, Windows will step in and delete any unnecessary temporary files without affecting your data.
By clicking the “Change how we free up space automatically” link, you can customize how Storage Sense works. With the “Run Storage sense” dropdown, you can choose how often Storage Sense should run. It’s set to “When Windows decides” by default, which allows it to run automatically whenever space is low. However, you may prefer to run it on a regular basis to prevent unnecessary files from piling up.
Storage Sense also gives you some control over what it deletes. You can choose whether or not Storage Sense should delete app temporary files that are no longer in use under the “Temporary Files” heading. There are also options to automatically empty files that have been in your recycle bin or Downloads folder for a long time, keeping these locations clean.
You should be able to leave Storage Sense running once you’ve configured it, without having to worry about freeing up space. You can also manually activate Storage Sense by going to Settings and clicking the “Free up space now” link. Finally, if your PC runs out of space, you can always go back to the storage overview screen to see where your drive’s capacity is being consumed.