The hard disk drive (HDD) on Windows 10 is, of course, your storage for software and files just like on any other operating system. Most desktop and laptop hard disks come with hundreds of gigabytes of storage these days, which is probably enough for most users.
However, if you add lots of software to your PC, along with photos and videos, hard drives can still fill up fairly rapidly if you don’t set aside a little time to preserve disk space. It doesn’t take that long to free up storage as a few HDD scans will usually do the trick. You might not know this, but overloading your hard drive with too much junk can really slow down your PC. In this TechJunkie article, we will show you how you can free up disk space to speed up Windows 10. We’ll start with the basics of managing your Windows 10 hard drive.
Delete Temporary Files
Temporary files are junk that waste hard disk space. Windows and system resource-intensive third-party software create temporary files, which only have temporary use. These “temp” files waste disk space if you don’t delete them. Make these files truly temporary by periodically purging your hard drive of temp files. You can delete temporary files with Windows 10’s storage settings, which also provides a good overview of your HDD space.
Open the storage settings by clicking the Cortana button on the Windows 10 taskbar and entering ‘storage’ in the search box. Select Storage to open the Settings app’s save location options. Click This PC (C:) to open the hard disk storage usage overview shown in the snapshot directly below.
That overview shows you the total HDD storage and how much you’ve used up. It highlights how much disk storage your apps (or software), documents, pictures, videos, music, email and temporary files are hogging. Click Temporary files to open the Remove files option shown directly below.
Now select the Temporary files checkbox there and press the Remove files button to delete the junk. You can select a Downloads folder checkbox, which will erase downloaded files.
The software installers in the Downloads folder also waste disk space, and you don’t need them once you’ve installed their programs. You can also delete installation files with Cyber-D’s Autodelete, as covered in this TechJunkie article on how to automatically delete installation files and free up hard drive space.
In addition, there’s an Empty Recycle Bin checkbox that you can select to erase files left in the Recycle Bin.
Make the Most of Cloud Storage
Hard disk space isn’t so essential anymore as you can also save documents, images, videos and music to cloud (otherwise web) storage. There are now plenty of cloud storage providers, which include Google Drive, OneDrive and Dropbox among others. Take a look at this TechJunkie guide comparing Google Drive with Dropbox, two of the most popular cloud storage services.
These services have various subscription packages, but most also have free account tier that offers some storage. In addition, most cloud storage services have client software that adds a directory to your HDD so you can save files to the cloud storage seamlessly as part of your Windows File Explorer.
So why not save more files to cloud storage instead of your hard disk? For example, Google Drive gives you 15 GB free account storage. You could save up to 15 GB by saving documents, images and videos to Google Drive instead of your hard disk. All Google account holders (you have a Google account if you have a Gmail account) get 15 GB of free disk space. The paying Google Drive service levels start at $19.99/year (or $1.99/month if you go with the monthly plan for 100 GBs of storage all the way up to 2 TBs of disk space for $99.99/year ($9.99/month). As you may know a Terabyte (TB) of disk space is 1,024 GBs so 2 TB would be 2,048 GBs!
Add CCleaner to Windows 10
There are a plethora of utility software packages that include disk cleaners, and some of those have better tools than Windows 10. CCleaner is one of the best third-party utility packages that come with comprehensive disk and registry cleaner, duplicate file finder and uninstall tools.
So CCleaner can free up lots of hard drive space, and you can add the freeware version to Windows 10 by pressing the Download button on the CCleaner website.
Once you’ve installed CCleaner, open the software’s window in the snapshot directly below. Then click Cleaner on the left of the window to open the software’s disk cleaner.
It includes a Windows tab from which you can select system and File Explorer items to delete, such as Recycle Bin, Windows log, recent documents, Clipboard and temporary files.
You can also select to delete third-party software files by clicking the Applications tab. That includes third-party browser and application file item checkboxes.
So select some of those check boxes to choose file items to delete, and then press the Analyze button. That will analyze how much disk space storage CCleaner can free up for you and provide further details as below.
If you select lots of check boxes, CCleaner will probably free up a few gigabytes. Press the Run Cleaner button and OK to erase the selected file items.
Software takes up most of your hard disk storage, so the best way to free up HDD space is to remove less essential programs. You can remove software with CCleaner by clicking Tools > Uninstall, opening a list of your software and apps as below.
From there, select a listed program there, and press Uninstall to remove it. Or you can remove software with any one of the uninstallers included in this TechJunkie article on how to add a better uninstaller to Windows 10.
CCleaner also includes a Duplicate Finder tool that you can search for and delete file duplicates with. Click Tools and Duplicate Finder to open the tool in the snapshot below. Press Search to scan for duplicate files, and then you can manually select some duplicated files to erase and click the Delete Selected button.
Save Images and Videos With Compressed File Formats
Image and Videos can take up a lot of disk space if you have loads of them saved on your HDD. However, you don’t necessarily have to delete images and videos to free up space. Instead, you can save them with more compressed file formats. This can save quite a bit of space if there are lots of videos and images with higher quality file formats on your hard disk.
Uncompressed TIFF and BMP image file formats hog more HDD space than other alternatives. JPEG and GIF are two more lightweight compressed formats that don’t take up so much hard drive space. You can convert images to JPEG with this web tool by pressing the Choose file button on its page and selecting a picture to convert. Select Best compression from the drop-down menu, and then press the Convert file button to convert the image.
Videos usually hog more HDD space than images. That’s especially the case if they have DV-AVI or MPEG-2 file formats. WMV, RealVideo and MPEG-1 are more compressed file formats you can save videos with that take up less HDD storage. You can switch clips to WMV with this web tool, which is much the same as the JPEG converter. As WMV has the smallest video file size, converting higher quality video formats to WMV can free up lots of disk space.
Reduce System Restore’s Disk Space Usage
Do you ever use System Restore in Windows 10? If not, a good way to free up disk space is to reduce System Restore’s HDD usage, which usually amounts to at least a few gigabytes. You can do that by entering ‘System Restore’ in Cortana’s search box and selecting Create a restore point to open the window shown directly below.
Press the Configure button there to open window below. That window includes a Max Usage bar which you can adjust System Restore’s disk usage with. The Current Usage figure there highlights the amount of disk space allocated to System Restore. You should drag the bar further left so that max usage is less than the Current Usage figure. Press Apply and click OK to close the window.
Those are some of the best ways to free up disk space on Windows 10. Deleting temporary files and removing software with CCleaner, saving files to cloud storage, compressing videos and images and reducing disk storage allocated to System Restore can save loads of hard drive space.
Do you have any tips or tricks for saving hard drive space on a Windows 10 PC? If so, please tell us about it in the comments below!