Hard drives are getting larger and larger, but somehow they always seem to fill up. This is even more true if you’re using a solid-state drive (SSD), which offers much less hard drive space than traditional mechanical hard drives.
Run Disk Cleanup
Windows includes a built-in tool that deletes temporary files and other unimportant data. To access it, right-click one of your hard drives in the Computer window and select Properties
Click the Disk Cleanup button in the disk properties window.
Select the types of files you want to delete and click OK. This includes temporary files, log files, files in your recycle bin, and other unimportant files.
You can also clean up system files, which don’t appear in the list here. Click the Clean up system files button if you also want to delete system files.
After you do, you can click the More Options button and use the Clean up button under System Restore and Shadow Copies to delete system restore data. This button deletes all but the most recent restore point, so ensure your computer is working properly before using it – you won’t be able to use older system restore points.
Clean Temporary Files
Windows’ Disk Cleanup tool is useful, but it doesn’t delete temporary files used by other programs. For example, it won’t clear Firefox or Chrome browser caches, which can use gigabytes of hard disk space. (Your browser cache uses hard disk space to save you time when accessing websites in the future, but this is little comfort if you need the hard disk space now.)
For more aggressive temporary and junk file cleaning, CCleaner cleans junk files from a variety of third-party programs and also cleans up Windows files that Disk Cleanup won’t touch.
Uninstall Space-Hungry Applications
Uninstalling programs will free up space, but some programs use very little space. From the Programs and Features control panel, you can click the Size column to see just how much space each program installed on your computer is using. The easiest way to get there is to search for “Uninstall programs” in the Start Menu.
If you don’t see this column, click the options button at the top right corner of the list and select the Details view. Note that this isn’t always accurate – some programs don’t report the amount of space they use. A program may be using a lot of space but may not have any information in its Size column.
If you’re using Windows 10, you can also open the new PC Settings and go to System -> Apps & features.
This will let you remove either Windows Store apps or regular apps, and should also work on a tablet. You can, of course, still open the regular Uninstall Programs in the old Control Panel if you want.
Reduce the Amount of Space Used for System Restore
If System Restore is eating up a lot of hard drive space for restore points, you can reduce the amount of hard disk space allocated to System Restore. The trade-off is you’ll have less restore points to restore your system from and less previous copies of files to restore. If these features are less important to you than the hard disk space they use, go ahead and free a few gigabytes by reducing the amount of space System Restore uses.