Six Safe Ways to Clear Disk Space on a Windows 10 Computer

Six Safe Ways to Clear Disk Space on a Windows 10 Computer
  • Six Safe Ways to Clear Disk Space on a Windows 10 Computer

Running out of space is really easy. Digital photos can be quite large, and if you have a lot of high-definition movies and hundreds of songs, those will eat up all of your drive space in a brink.  

If your computer is old or has lower specs, the problem may even be worse for you. Because Microsoft has been pushing Windows 10 upgrade onto users and due to the new OS’ lower system requirements, many people have ended up with Windows 10 installed on older systems with smaller drives. 

Now that the problem is here, you need to deal with it. You probably want to know how to clear some disk space on your Windows 10 computer without having to delete your personal files. We are going to give you six great tips to do just that. 

1. Get Rid of Old Windows Versions

When you upgrade to Windows 10 from an older version, the system saves old Windows version data on your drive. This allows rolling back to your previous Windows version if necessary, but the space taken up by this old data can be enormous. 

In addition to that, the installation of the latest Anniversary Update also leaves behind redundant files. The good news is that it’s not that hard to delete them.

Open Settings and go to System, then Storage. Select your primary drive and review the list of categories and the info on the amount of space they are using. Scroll down to Temporary Files, click on this option and check the box by Previous Versions of Windows. Now click Remove Files and your drive will get quite a bit lighter.

2. Clear Data from Update Cache

One more way to get back some storage that’s being unnecessarily taken up by Windows is to clear the update cache.

The cache contains copies of the installation files used by updates. The main reason they are stored is in case your OS needs to reapply the update. If the need arises and the files aren’t there, you will need to download them again. As long as you have no Internet traffic limitations, this isn’t a good reason to let those files hog your disk space. 

The process isn’t very simple, but with these instructions you should be able to do it quite easily. First you need to stop the Windows Update service. Look up Services, find the top result and right-click on it, then choose to open it as an administrator.

Now scroll through the list and locate Windows Update. Stop it by right-clicking on it and choosing ‘Stop’.

The next step is to remove the files. Open the Run box by pressing the Windows key + R, then type C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\ and press Enter.

Anything stored in the Downloads folder may be deleted.

Now you can return to Services and get Windows Update re-enabled.

3. Clear Hibernation Data

The Sleep and Hibernate options are both meant for saving power when your Windows computer is not in use. 

If you have no idea what’s the difference between the two, you are not alone. The one essential difference that’s relative to this article’s subject is the fact that Sleep saves the documents and programs you have open in your PC’s RAM, while the Hibernate mode keeps the data on your hard drive. In Hibernation your PC gets completely shut down, while in Sleep mode it is sort of put on stand-by. The space taken up by Hibernate mode files can be huge, so if you don’t use this mode, you can safely disable it. When you do that, all associated data stored on your drive will be automatically deleted.

To disable the Hibernate mode, open the Command Prompt as administrator by right-clicking on it and selecting the proper option. 

Type powercfg.exe -h off and hit Enter. There will be no confirmation, but Hibernate will be disabled. 

If you find that you want to use this mode later on, you can go through the steps above once again, except that now you will need to type ‘powercfg.exe -h on’ instead.

4. Clear Delivery Optimization Files

In Windows 10 users got a new feature called “Delivery Optimization”, which lets your PC get updates from other computers nearby. The purpose for introducing this feature was to speed up updates delivery, but in reality it mostly causes higher bandwidth consumption and higher memory usage. 

Deleting the files is pretty easy, but you need to start by disabling the feature, or the files will accumulate once again. 

Go to Start > Settings > Update & Security > Advanced Options > Choose How Updates Are Delivered. Set the slider to OFF.

Now open the Disk Cleanup app by searching for it. Just like in other Windows versions, it will scan your PC for a few seconds and show you a list of files that you can remove. Scroll through the list down to Delivery Optimization Files, mark the checkbox and click OK to have the files deleted.

5. Remove the OEM Recovery Partition

Most PCs are sold with an OEM recovery partition. Windows 10 has made this a mostly useless thing to keep on a computer, and you can safely have it removed. The unfortunate thing is that to get it deleted you have to create a recovery drive on a USB stick or an external drive.

Good thing there is a tool in Windows that lets you easily do that: just search for Create a Recovery Drive from your Taskbar.

Just follow the instructions on your screen and insert a USB flash drive when asked to do so. When done, you’ll get the option to remove the recovery partition rom your computer’s drive. Simply click the link and choose the ‘Delete’ option. 

6. Remove the Windows 10 Recovery Partition

This option should be your last resort to be used when you are desperate to free up some space on your PC. By deleting the Windows 10 recovery partition, you are giving up access to recovery options and if anything bad happens, you won’t be able to enter the recovery mode and troubleshoot your system. 

We strongly recommend creating a recovery drive on a USB stick and backing up all your data before you follow tip #6. 

First open the Command Prompt in the administrator mode. Type ‘Diskpart’ and hit Enter. Now type ‘List disk’ and hit Enter again.

Then type ‘Select disk X’ (where the ‘X’ should be replaced with the number of the drive your recovery partition is stored on). Now type ‘List volume’.

You will see a list of all volumes kept on this disk, your recovery partition included. Type ‘Select volume X’ (use the proper volume number instead of the X).

Now type ‘Delete volume’ and press Enter.

These six tricks to clearing disk space on a Windows 10 machine are definitely not the only way to do it, but they are relatively easy and do not touch your personal files. Go ahead, try some of them and see how much lighter your drives will become.


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