Before you buy another PC, use these 7 steps to free up disk space in Windows 10. You will save yourself some money and you won’t waste time downloading and configuring your favorite apps and games again, either.
Every Windows 10 PC has storage inside. If it’s a low-cost PC, device makers include 32GB of flash storage. Mid-range PCs have between a 500GB and 1TB hard drive for storing all your files. The most expensive PCs use a very fast SSD with at least 128GB storage, and some even include a second hard drive. No matter their capacity, all PCs have one thing in common: you can very easily find yourself without any storage space left. That’s why you need these 7 steps to free up disk space in Windows 10.
How to Free Up Disk Space in Windows 10
- Free Up Disk Space in Windows 10 by Removing Apps and Games
- Free Up Disk Space in Windows 10 by Using Lightweight Apps from the Microsoft Store
- Compress Folders into Zip Files to Free Up Space in Windows 10
- Free Up Disk Space in Windows 10 with Storage Sense
- Turn Off Hibernation to Free Up Disk Space in Windows 10
- Add More External Storage to Free Up Disk Space in Windows 10
- Use Cloud Storage on Your Windows 10
Free Up Disk Space in Windows 10 by Removing Apps and Games
Before you do anything else, free up disk space in Windows 10 by removing the programs, apps and games that you don’t use often. This can unlock a lot of space without much work.
Click on the Windows button in the bottom-left corner of your screen. Type Add or Remove Programs in the search box and hit the Enter key on your keyboard.
Welcome to the Apps and Features area. At the bottom of this list is a breakdown of every app or game installed on Windows 10 PC. This list is sorted into alphabetical order by default, but don’t use it this way. Instead, click on the Sort by field and change it to sort by Size.
The apps, programs and games at the top of your list take up the most storage. Look through the list and decide what programs and games you no longer need. Click on what you would like to remove.
Free Up Disk Space in Windows 10 by Using Lightweight Apps from the Microsoft Store
After you get rid of apps you never use, it’s time replace big apps that take up a lot of space on your Windows 10 PC, with lightweight versions from the Microsoft Store.
There are dozens of opportunities to replace bloated programs with streamlined Windows 10 apps that don’t take up as much space. For example, Microsoft Office 2016 takes up around 4GB of storage on your PC if it’s installed. Office 365 users can remove the entire suite from their PC and replace it with only the Office Mobile apps that they need. Word Mobile is just 117MB by comparison. PowerPoint Mobile is only 14MB. The Photos app is a solid replacement for the basic editing tools that Adobe Photoshop Elements offers. This app also has some simple video editing tools that could replace Premiere Elements and save you storage space.
Use the list of the biggest apps and programs on your Windows 10 PC to search for replacements in Microsoft’s store. The Store app is on your list of apps under Microsoft Store. You can also browse the store online here. Gotta Be Mobile’s Best Windows 10 Apps round up has solid replacements for programs you must install from the internet today.
Compress Folders into Zip Files to Free Up Space in Windows 10
Before you delete any files on your Windows 10 PC, be sure you have compressed all the files you can. Windows 10 supports ZIP files, which can cut the amount of space your files take up.
To create a ZIP file, right-click anywhere on your desktop background.
Use your mouse pointer to select New. Now select Compressed (Zipped) Folder inside the menu.
Type a name for the ZIP file and tap Enter on your keyboard.
Now drag all the files that you’d like to compress into that folder.
Storing stuff you don’t browse often in a ZIP file can free up a great deal of disk space in Windows 10. The more files there are, the more space you save with these. Just remember to delete the originals after you have added copies to your ZIP file. Also, you must drag files pictures and video outside of a ZIP file to preview them in Windows 10, which adds an extra step if you ever want to browse through them.
Free Up Disk Space in Windows 10 with Storage Sense
After you’ve done all that, it’s time to use Storage Sense to get rid of files that are clogging your system. Click on the Windows button in the bottom-left corner of your screen.
Type Storage into the Search bar at the bottom of your screen and hit Enter on your keyboard.
At the top of your screen are meters that gauge how much free storage you have left. Below this is a switch for Storage Sense. Flip the Off switch to On and Windows 10 will delete unnecessary files from the Recycle Bin and other areas periodically.
Click the Change how we free up space link to customize how Storage Sense works.
By default, it doesn’t delete files from your Downloads folder, but you can turn that on. You can also have it delete older versions of Windows 10 faster than it normally would.
Click the Clean Now button to remove files you don’t need immediately.
Turn Off Hibernation to Free Up Disk Space in Windows 10
Every time you put your PC into hibernation, files are stored on it. These files let your PC restart quickly, but they also add to the amount of reserved storage Windows 10 needs to run. If you already turn your PC off anyway, turn off Hibernation to free up disk space in Windows 10.
Click on the Start button in the bottom-left corner of your screen.
Type Command Prompt into the search bar. Right-click on the results and select Run As Administrator.
Type powercfg /hibernate off into Command Prompt and press Enter on your keyboard.
From this point on, Hibernation is off, decreasing the amount of reserved space Windows 10 reserves for itself. Just remember that every time you turn your PC off it will turn completely off, increasing the amount of time it takes to start again.
Add More External Storage to Free Up Disk Space in Windows 10
So far, you’ve used basic tricks to free up disk space in Windows 10 that’s taken up by your files and Windows itself. Now it’s time to free up disk space in Windows 10 by adding more disk space and moving your files.
As long as you have a card reader or a USB port, you can add more space to your PC. For laptops and tablets, go with a MicroSD card. They usually fit into the body of your PC and stay tucked away and out of sight. If you have a desktop PC, consider using a USB 3.0 hard drive. These allow you to maximize storage and performance at the cost of portability.
- Buy the Seagate 2TB Expansion Drive from Amazon for $69.99
- Buy the WD 4TB Black MyPassport Hard Drive from Amazon for $119.99
- Buy the Toshiba Canvio Connect 2 1TB Hard Drive from Amazon for $47.99
Once you’ve purchased your external storage, it’s time to move files on the drive inside your PC to this external storage device. Drag and drop your files there, but keep things organized. You want stuff on the drive to remain easy to find.
If you want to take this a step further, set your new storage device as the default place Windows 10 puts your files. Type Storage into the search bar in the bottom-left corner of your screen and hit Enter.
Click on the Choose where new content is saved link at the bottom of the window.
Now decide where Windows 10 stores each type of file. Videos are a great thing to store on an external drive since one HD movie takes up more than a gigabyte of free space.
Use Cloud Storage on Your Windows 10
If you don’t want to rely on a new hard drive, try cloud storage. Dropbox and iCloud are solid services, but Windows 10 has built-in support for OneDrive. Even better, its Files On-Demand feature lets you see what’s stored on Microsoft’s servers directly from your PC. So, for example, your pictures can stay in the cloud, but you can still preview them from the Photos app. If you need a file, double-click on it and Windows 10 downloads it.
To turn on OneDrive, right-click on the white cloud icon in the bottom-right corner of your screen.
Select Settings from the pop-up menu.
Now check the Files on Demand box. Click on Ok.
Click on the cloud in the bottom-right corner of your screen again.
Click on the folder at the top-right corner of the pop-up window.
Now move the files that you don’t use that often to the OneDrive folder.