How to Free Up Storage Space in Windows

Disclaimer

This article includes steps on how to delete temporary files. Although temporary files shouldn't contain any personal data or documents, I am not responsible or liable for any data loss that may occur. Follow these steps at your own risk.

Introduction

If your Windows PC is low on storage space, here's how to free it up by removing unnecessary and temporary files.

Install Any Pending Windows Updates

The first thing you should do is install any pending Windows updates. These update files, once downloaded, can take up quite a bit of space on your machine. Installing these updates will give you that space back.

  1. Open Settings.

  2. Go to Windows Update.

  3. Click "Check for Updates".

Windows will then look through the update files downloaded to your machine, and show all of the updates currently available to install.

  1. Click "Install" next to any updates you see listed here.

Delete Personal Files You No Longer Need

If you're not very organised, your PC has probably accumulated quite a bit of junk including old Documents, Downloads and Desktop items. As simple as it sounds, you may be surprised at how much you have lying around that you haven't looked at in a long time. Go through your files and delete what you no longer need.

The folder paths I recommend going through are as follows. Copy and paste them into the path bar at the top of File Explorer.

  • %userprofile%\Documents

  • %userprofile%\Downloads

  • %userprofile%\Desktop

Temporary Files

What are Temporary Files?

Temporary files can be created for many reasons. For example, when you download, install and set up an app, temporary files are created to allow this process to complete. However, after this process is complete, these files don't always get removed. Although they are called "temporary files", Windows doesn't have a rule on what duration of time it takes for the files to be deleted, so these files can accumulate over time and take up quite a lot of storage space - unless the relevant app developer implements a method of automatically deleting the files after use.

Even after deleting these files, they will reaccumulate over time as you use apps and perform other activities on your computer - so I recommend deleting these temporary files at least once every three months. Temporary files typically aren't needed after use, however, if they are they will be recreated.

Delete Temporary Files

  1. Open File Explorer (Windows Key + E).

  2. Type "%temp%" into the path bar at the top and press enter.

  3. Select all of the folders here and delete them (Ctrl + A > Delete key).

Disk Clean-up Tool

  1. Open Run (Windows Key + R).

  2. Type "cleanmgr".

  3. Press Ctrl + Shift + Enter in the Run box to open Disk Clean-up as an administrator.

  4. Once the program is open, you'll see some tick boxes beside some listed items. Tick as many boxes as possible, making sure to read what they are all for. If you think you might need some for something, do not tick them.

  5. Click "OK".

  6. Click "Delete Files".

The Disk Clean-up application will automatically close when the process is complete.

Storage Sense Settings

  1. Open the search menu from the Taskbar.

  2. Type "Storage Sense" and click the first option in the list.

  3. Find the "Storage Sense" toggle and enable it.

  4. Click "Temporary files".

  5. Here you'll see some tick boxes beside some listed items. Tick as many boxes as possible, making sure to read what they are all for. If you think you might need some for something, do not tick them.

  6. Click "Remove files" and wait for the process to complete.

  7. Go back and look through some of the other categories. Delete anything you see that you no longer need.

  8. Close Settings.

Conclusion

Hopefully this helped you get some space back! If not, maybe you need a bigger hard drive or SSD. I also advise rebooting your PC after following these steps. For further help, please see the official Microsoft documentation.