7 Ways to Free up Disk Space On Windows 10

In this article, I will show you 7 ways to free up disk space on your Windows 10 machine.

Indeed, Over time your Windows 10 machine can run out of space quickly. Yet, you thought that you have a big storage space to not worry about it!

By experience, I noticed that the more disk space we have, the more we tend to fill it up with documents, photos, videos, installed applications, synchronized cloud files…etc.

But you are not the only one that uses the disk to store something. Windows 10 also use the disk to store its stuff.

What can fill your disk space?

Before talking about the solutions and the tools that let you free up your disk space, let’s talk about what can cause your disk to be saturated.

1. Deleted files

When you delete a file, Windows 10 will not remove it permanently from the disk; it will move it to the Recycle Bin if you change your mind and want to restore it. So, when deleting files, you are not freeing up disk space, as the deleted files are just moved to another place.

2. Temporary Files

Temporary files are files created by Windows when performing a task or running a program. A temporary file is created to free up memory so that other programs can use it.

They are also created to prevent a loss of data when an application is performing certain tasks. For example, Microsoft Word and Excel use temporary files to automatically save changes a user made to the document every “n” second. So if the application crashes unexpectedly, the user can recover its data even if he didn’t explicitly hit the save button.

Usually, temporary files are located under the C:\Windows\Temp path.
They are also located under the user profile C:\Users\UserProfile\AppData\Local\Temp.

The temporary files only exist during the execution of the application or the task. In some cases, when the task or the application does not end properly, the temporary files are not deleted.

Temporary files generally end with “.TMP” extension.

3. Log Files

Log files are files generated either by Windows or by an application. They record events occurring during the execution of the system or applications. They are helpful during audit phases and for troubleshooting purposes.

For example, when applying Windows 10 updates to your machine, Windows will record every step of the update process in a log file. In case the update doesn’t apply correctly and generates an error, you can refer to that log file to identify the problem.
Usually, log files end with the “.log” extension.

4. Dump Files

A dump file is a file generated just after an application or a system crash. It’s a kind of a memory snapshot that contains information that can be useful for debugging.
The dump files have the “.dmp” extension.

Where to locate Dump files?

Whenever you experience a blue screen of death (BSOD), a dump file is generated under C:\Windows\memory.dmp for a full memory dump or under C:\Windows\Minidump, for a mini memory dump.

Some application generates dump files, every time they crash. These files are located under a path defined in the application parameters.

For example, I use the application Camtasia to record videos. If Camtasia encounter a problem that leads to a crash, it generates dump files under “%LocalAppData%\TechSmith\Camtasia Studio\CrashDumps

5. Windows Remote Desktop (RDP) Cache

Windows Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is a Microsoft protocol that allows you to connect to a remote computer over a network. RDP will provide you with a graphical interface so that you can display the remote computer desktop.

The system administrators mostly use it to connect remotely to servers and computers to provide support.

The remote desktop protocol provides an option called “Persistent Bitmap caching” that stores, locally, remote computer desktop images. The remote computer will not send its desktop image every time over the network. As long as the remote desktop image does not change, it will be displayed locally. This is useful when remote access is made over a slow connection.

These saved bitmaps can grow over time, especially if you are using RDP a lot.

RDP Persistent bitmap caching

6. Old and Unused Applications

Each application you install on your Windows 10 device consumes disk space for storing files necessary for its execution.

Usually, we install applications because we need them in our daily lives.
But we also install applications because we need to solve a one-off problem.

When the application is no longer relevant, we forget about it.

So over time, we end up with a ton of useless applications installed on your device.

I still have on my computer applications installed in 2013 that I no longer use.

Old and Unused Applications

7. Old Users Profiles

If many users use a Windows 10 device; Each one uses his account to open a session on that device.

The first time a user opens a session on a Windows 10 device, the system creates a profile folder for that user.

A profile is unique for each user. It contains the user configuration and preférences like the Desktop background image, the application shortcuts..etc.

A user profile is a private dedicated user workspace; it’s not accessible by other users.

A user can create and save documents, download files from the Internet…etc. All those files will be stored under the user profile space.

When a user is no longer using the device, you can free up space by removing its profile.

8. Windows Update Files

Applying Windows updates to your machine is very important to maintain it secure and performant.

However, Windows 10 is not very good at cleaning old update packages. This can result in several Gigs of disk space unnecessarily occupied.

How To Free up Your Disk Space?

1. Free up disk space emptying Recycle Bin

To delete those files permanently go and empty the recycle bin:

  1. Open Windows Explorer;
  2. Type “Recycle Bin” in the address bar;
  3. Click on “Empty Recycle Bin” button;

Tip: To permanently delete a file without moving it to the Recycle Bin, use the “SHIFT + DEL” keyboard combination.
Use this tip carefully because if you mistakenly delete the wrong file, you’ll not be able to restore it from the Recycle Bin. It would be best if you use specialized software, like Recuva, to restore the file.

2. Free up Disk Space Using Storage Sense

Storage Sense is Windows 10 built-in feature that allows you to free up disk space on your Windows 10 machine automatically.

When enabled, it will delete items in the Recycle bin, Temporary Files, and Files in the ”My Downloads” location.

If you are using OneDrive, it will allow you to remove unused cloud-based content from your local drive.

  1. Click on the Windows 10 start menu;
  2. Type “Sense“;
  3. Click on “Turn On Storage Sense“;
  4. Under the”Storage sense” section click on “Change how we free up space automatically” ;
  5. Click on the button to turn on Storage sense;
  6. Select when to run Storage sense; you have four options:
    1. Every day
    2. Every week
    3. Every month
    4. During low disk space
  7. Under the Temporary files section, check the Delete temporary files that my apps aren’t using” option;
  8. Under the “Delete files in my recycle bin if they have been there for over” drop-down menu, select the frequency over which the files in the recycle bin will be deleted;
  9. Do the same thing with the Downloads folder under the “Delete files in my Downloads folder if they are here for over” Drop-down menu.

3. Free up disk space using CCleaner

CCleaner is a free tool that helps you free up disk space by deleting temporary files, duplicate files, dumps, logs, browser’s temporary files, obsolete registry entries …etc.

  1. Download and install CCleaner
  2. Open CCleaner
  3. Besides the default selected options, to Empty Recycle Bin, Temporary files, Memory Dumps, Windows Logs, Remote Desktop cached files …etc. Do the following:
    • Click on the “Options” menu > Include
    • Click on the Add button;
    • In the “Driver or Folder” zone, type “%localAppData%\
    • Under the “File Types” section, select File Types, then type “*.dmp“.
      Note: This will remove all the Dump files generated by application crashes under the “%localAppData%\” path.
  4. Click on the “Cleaner” menu, then on the “Analyze” button. CCleaner will analyze your disk and displays a list of potentially unwanted files;
  5. If you want to see details of a file category, for example, “System Temporary Files“, double-click on the category to get in the details.
  6. When you are sure about your selection, click on the “Run Cleaner” button to delete all the listed files.

4. Free up Disk Space By Deleting Duplicated Files

  1. In CCleaner, click on “Tools > Duplicate Finder“;
  2. In the “Match by” section, select the search criteria. The criteria you select must all be verified. By default, the name, the size, and the modified date are selected; this means, CCleaner must search for duplicate files that have the same name, size, and the modified date altogether.
  3. In the “Ignore” section, you can select the file type you want CCleaner to ignore in its search. Keep the default selection.
    Important: Do not uncheck the “System files” checkbox. You don’t want to screw up the system files. Even if Windows is good at preventing you from deleting its system files, you have to be careful.
  4. In the “Include” section, you can specify whether you want CCleaner to search for duplicate files on a drive or a folder.
    You can also limit the search for a specific set of files by filtering on the extension.
  5. When ready, click on the search button;

5. Free up Disk Space By Uninstalling Old Unused Applications

  1. Click on the Windows start button , then click on the “Settings” icon
  2. In the Windows Settings window, click on “Apps” button;
  3. On the “Apps & features” window, click sort by “‘Install date“; you will see the installed applications sorted from the most recent down to the least recent.
  4. Check if there is any application in the list that you don’t use anymore, and uninstall it.
    I suggest you start from the bottom of the list, scrolling up to the top.

6. Free up Disk Space By Remove Old User Profiles

  1. Right-click on the Windows 10 start button then in the context menu click on “System“;
  2. On the settings window, click on the “System info“;
  3. Click on “Advanced system settings“;
  4. In the user profiles section, click on the settings button;
  5. Select a user that is not using the PC anymore and delete it.

7. Free up Disk Space By Removing Old Windows Updates Packages

  1. Click on the Windows 10 start button ;
  2. Type “Disk Cleanup” to start the application;
  3. On the disk cleanup application window, select the system disk. Usually its the C: drive;
  4. By default, the Windows update packages are not shown; you must click on the “Clean up system files” button to display them;
  5. In the displayed window, check the “Windows Updates Cleanup” option and click “OK” to validate.

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Please leave a comment and let me know what your preferred tool you use for freeing up disk space is.

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