How do you manage all those files you don’t need anymore? Do you dump everything in the Recycle Bin? Are you one of the few people who uses the excellent Shift + Delete shortcut? Or are your desktop and file hierarchy a mess thanks to years of poor folder management?
Whichever category you fall into, the bottom line is that staying on top all your old files is entirely your responsibility.
Or is it? Well, no. Not anymore. The Windows 10 Creators Update has brought a much-welcomed revamp to the already excellent Storage Sense feature.
But what is it? What can it do for you? And how you use it? Keep reading to find out.
What Is Storage Sense?
Microsoft released Storage Sense as part of the original Windows 10 back in 2015, though it’s been part of Windows Phone since the days of the 8.1 release. It offered you a way to manage the apps and files on your hard drive.
The feature could tell you how much of your system’s memory was being occupied by each individual file type and let you specify onto which storage media you wanted to save your apps, documents, music, pictures, and videos by default.
All those features are still present in the Creators Update version of Storage Sense, but the core purpose of the app has changed. Now you can use it to automatically monitor and free up storage space on your computer. It can delete old files, monitor for specific file types, and a whole lot more. I’ll discuss it in more detail shortly.
Why Is the New Version of Storage Sense Needed?
As I touched on in the introduction, managing old files and folders can be a mammoth task. Lots of people simply aren’t disciplined enough to keep themselves organized.
For example, Microsoft designed the Recycle Bin to be a safety net — it theoretically prevents you from accidentally losing an important document. But did you know it has a default maximum size? Windows will automatically delete the Bin’s contents on a “first-in-first-out” basis once you’ve reached the limit. If you abuse the purpose of the app and never empty out the junk, it could come back to haunt you.
If you’re curious, you can change the default size of the Bin by right-clicking on the app’s icon, heading to Properties > General and altering the Custom size number.
Other file cleaning tools, such as Disk Cleanup (Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Disk Cleanup), are not easy to use nor automatic.
In short, the new Storage Sense feature aims to fix a long-standing Windows problem that users have been complaining about for years.
How to Enable Storage Sense
There are two parts to Storage Sense: you can choose to simply enable the feature and run with the Windows default settings, or you can customize it to meet your personal requirements.
If you want to merely turn on Storage Sense, head to Start > Settings > System.
Now locate the menu item labeled Storage in the panel on the left-hand side on the Settings window and scroll down until you see the Storage Spaces option. You’ll see a sliding toggle. Set it to the On position.
If you make no further changes and quit the app, the Windows 10 Creators Update will automatically delete any junk files from your PC. That includes data files left over from long-since-uninstalled apps, some temporary files, and any items in the Recycle Bin that are more than 30 days old.
If you leave the feature turned on for a few months, you’ll even be able to see a month-by-month history of your storage savings.
How to Customize Storage Sense
If you want to make Storage Sense work in a different way from the pre-prescribed defaults, there are some options you can change.
Once again, you need to head to Start > Settings > System > Storage > Storage Sense. This time, click the link titled Change how we free up space.
The new window allows you to choose whether you only delete old Recycle Bin files, only delete temporary files that your existing apps aren’t using, or delete both. Slide the toggles accordingly to make your choices.
A little further down the page, there’s also a third option called Free up space now. If you click on the Clean now button, Storage Sense will perform the clean-up actions immediately.
As you can see from the image above, my system instantly found 83.9 MB of new space. It might not sound like much, but I religiously keep my Recycle Bin empty and stay on top of old files — even in the hidden AppData folder. If you’re not as particular as me, the savings could be enormous.
Where Are the Old Features?
I mentioned earlier that some Storage Sense used to be about managing your storage locations and getting a snapshot of your various drives’ file breakdown.
Even though Microsoft has revamped the Storage Sense feature, you can still do those things, but you’ll now find them in a slightly different place.
Navigate to Start > Settings > System > Storage and scroll down to More storage settings. There are two options: Change where new content is saved and Manage Storage Spaces.
Change Where New Content Is Saved
Clicking on Change where new content is saved will give you a list of six filetypes: Apps, Documents, Music, Photos and Videos, Films and TV Programmes, and Offline Maps.
Under each filetype, you can choose your preferred location from the drop-down box. The app will list all your drives, including any removable disks.
Manage Storage Spaces
Choosing Manage Storage Spaces allows you to create pools of drives. Any content you save will be added to both drives, thus protecting you against drive failure and accidental deletion.
Click Create a new pool and storage space to create your pools.
Lastly, you can still see a breakdown of your current drives by content type.
Go to Start > Settings > System > Storage and click on the drive you want to view.
The app will show you a full list of your content along with the amount of space needed by each type.
What Other Features Would You Like to See?
There’s no doubt that the new Storage Sense feature will be a boost to anyone who feels like they’re drowning under the weight of old content.
That said, the release of the Windows 10 Creators Update only marks the first iteration of the app. Presumably, Microsoft will add a lot more functionality in future updates.
What would you like to see Microsoft include? Which extra features would make Storage Sense an even more valuable tool?
Image Credits: Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock