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Free up drive space in Windows

Free up drive space in Windows

Free up drive space in Windows

If your PC is running low on free space, you might not be able to install important Windows updates, and your PC’s performance may be affected. Here are some ways to free up space so you can keep your PC up to date and running smoothly. These suggestions are listed in order, so start with the first one, see if that helps, and then continue to the next one if it doesn’t.

To check the total disk space left on your Windows 10 device, select File Explorer from the taskbar, and then select This PC on the left. The available space on your drive will appear under Devices and drives.

If you're getting a Low Disk Space error because of a full Temp folder

If you used Disk Cleanup to free up space on your device and then see a Low Disk Space error, it’s possible that your Temp folder is quickly filling up with application (.appx) files that are used by Microsoft Store. For more info, see Low Disk Space error due to a full Temp folder.

Free up space with Storage Sense

Storage Sense can automatically free up drive space for you by getting rid of items that you don’t need, like temporary files and items in your Recycle Bin. For more info, see Manage drive space with Storage Sense.

Free up space with Disk Cleanup

If your system doesn’t have Storage Sense, you can use the Disk Cleanup tool to delete temporary files and system files from your device.

    1. In the search box on the taskbar, type disk cleanup, then select it from the results.
    2. Select the drive you want to clean up files for, then select OK.
    3. Select the check box next to the type of files you want to delete. (To view a description of each type of file, select the name.) By default, Downloaded Program Files, Temporary Internet Files, and Thumbnails are selected. Be sure to clear those check boxes if you don’t want to delete those files.
    4. To free up even more space, select Clean up system files, select a drive, select OK. When the system has done its calculations, select the type of system files you want to delete. Disk Cleanup will take a few moments to calculate the amount of space that can be freed up.

Note: If it’s been fewer than 10 days since you upgraded to Windows 10, your previous version of Windows will be listed as a system file you can delete. If you need to free up drive space, you can delete it, but keep in mind that you’ll be deleting your Windows.old folder, which contains files that give you the option to go back to your previous version of Windows. If you delete your previous version of Windows, this can’t be undone. (You won’t be able to go back to your previous version of Windows.)

  1. After you’ve selected the types of files you want to delete, select OK, and then select Delete files in the confirmation window to start the cleanup.


  • You can also compress your OS drive (the drive on which Windows is installed), helping you gain extra space to install important updates. This action does not delete the contents of this drive, and you shouldn’t experience problems opening and saving files from the compressed drive.
  • If you want to compress the OS drive, select File Explorer  from the taskbar, and in the left pane, select This PC. Right-click or tap and hold the OS drive (usually disk C), and then select Properties, and in the General tab, select Compress this drive to save disk space. Select Apply OK. After you install the update, you can manually decompress the OS drive at any time by clearing the Compress this drive to save disk space check box, and then selecting Apply OK.

Free up space to install the latest Windows 10 update

Windows 10 may indicate that it needs more space to get the latest Windows 10 feature update. You can use an external storage device to help you complete the update.

To learn more, see Free up space for Windows updates.

Note: You may need to use a micro-USB adapter if your device doesn’t have a standard USB port.

Delete personal files or move them to an external storage device

Personal files such as videos, music, photos, and documents can take up a lot of space on your device. To see which files are using the most space:

  1. Select File Explorer  from the taskbar and find the files you want to move.
  2. Under This PC in the menu on the left, select a folder to see what files are saved in it. The Videos, Music, Pictures, and Downloads folders usually contain the largest files that you’ve saved to your device.
  3. To see the size of the files in a folder, select the View tab, then select Details. Right-click in the open space and then select Sort by > Size to show the largest files at the top of the list.
  4. If there are files you no longer need on your device, you can either delete them or move them to an external storage device like a USB drive or an SD card.

To move photos, music, videos, or other files that you want to keep but don’t use very often, consider saving them to an external storage device like a USB drive or an SD card. You’ll still be able to use them when the drive is connected, but they won’t take up space on your PC.

  1. Connect an external storage device like a USB drive or SD card to your PC.
  2. Select File Explorer  from the taskbar and go to the folder that contains the files you want to move.
  3. Select the files, select the Home tab, and then select Move to and select Choose location.
  4. Select the external storage device you connected in the location list, and then select Move.

Note: If you delete any files, remember to empty the Recycle Bin to completely remove them from your device and free up space.

Save new personal files to another drive

Saving new files to another drive will help prevent low space problems on that drive in the future, so you won’t have to move your files to another drive repeatedly. Instead of saving all your new files to the default drive, you can save some of them to a different drive that has more free space.

  1. Select Start  > Settings  > System  >Storage  .
    Open Storage settings
  2. Scroll down and under More storage settings, select Change where new content is saved.
  3. For each content type, select a drive from the drop-down menu. If the drive you want to use isn’t listed there, make sure it’s connected to your PC.

Turn on OneDrive Files On-Demand

Note: OneDrive Files On-Demand requires Windows 10 version 1709 or later and OneDrive client version 17.3.7064.1005 or later. To see which version of Windows you’re running, select Start  > Settings  > System  > About . To see which version of the OneDrive client you have installed, see Which OneDrive app? and go to the section about finding which app you have.
Open About settings

You can save space by turning on OneDrive Files On-Demand, which stores a smaller placeholder file on your hard drive instead of the full-size file that’s stored in your OneDrive account in the cloud. You’ll be able to get to your OneDrive files from your PC without having to use up hard-drive space downloading full-size versions of them all. See Save disk space with OneDrive Files On-Demand for Windows for more info.


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