How To Reclaim Disk Space by Removing Unneeded Windows Files

Running out of disk space on your Windows computer can slow it down and cause problems. Fortunately, Windows includes several built-in tools to help you clean up your hard drive and free up space. This article will provide a step-by-step guide to removing unneeded files on Windows using Disk Cleanup, Storage Sense, uninstallers, and manual deletion.

Use Disk Cleanup

Disk Cleanup is a utility included in Windows that scans for and deletes unnecessary files. Here’s how to use it:

  1. Type “disk cleanup” into the Windows search bar and select the Disk Cleanup app.
  2. Choose the drive you want to clean up and click “OK”.
  3. Check the box next to each type of file you want to delete. Some common options:
  • Temporary files
  • Windows update cleanup
  • System error memory dump files
  • System files taking up space
  1. Click “Clean up system files” for more cleanup options.
  2. Click “OK” to confirm and delete the selected files.

Disk Cleanup can free up several gigabytes of space by removing cached and temporary data.

Enable Storage Sense

Storage Sense is an automatic storage manager in Windows 10 and 11. Here’s how to set it up:

  1. Go to Settings > System > Storage.
  2. Turn on “Storage Sense”.
  3. Click “Configure Storage Sense or run it now”.
  4. Select how often it should run and what types of files it should delete automatically, like Downloads folder items or Recycle Bin items.

Letting Storage Sense run on a schedule saves you from having to manually manage disk space.

Uninstall Unused Programs

Uninstalling programs you no longer use can recover lots of disk space:

  1. Go to Settings > Apps > Apps & features.
  2. Sort programs by size to see which are using the most space.
  3. Select unused programs and click “Uninstall”.

Be careful not to uninstall anything you still need!

Manually Delete Files

Sometimes it helps to manually look for files to delete. Files types to look for include:

  • Old downloads
  • Duplicate files
  • Large video, music, or photo files
  • Temp folders holding extracted zip files
  • Old Windows installation files

Carefully comb through your files, sending unused items to the Recycle Bin.

Other Tips

Here are a few other quick tips for freeing disk space on Windows:

  • Empty the Recycle Bin frequently
  • Use the “Disk Cleanup” option for various apps like Browsers and Mail
  • Compress rarely accessed files via right-click > Properties > Advanced
  • Move data to external storage devices


Running low on free space in Windows can cause major headaches. Thankfully between built-in tools like Disk Cleanup and Storage Sense to manually removing files, you can easily reclaim 10GB+ of disk space. Develop a habit of regularly checking your disk usage and cleaning up unneeded files. Your computer will run much smoother with ample free drive space available.