6 Tips to Free Up Disk Space in Windows 10

Dan Price 29-08-2016

It’s far too easy to run out of disk space. If you have countless high-resolution photos, hundreds of HD-quality movies, and tens of thousands of songs, you can find yourself hitting your memory limit in no time.


The problem is compounded on older machines. Because of Microsoft’s aggressive update strategy How to Stop Windows 10 Update From Restarting Without Asking Windows 10 can be annoying by the way it restarts without any notice. Fortunately, there's a way around that. Read More and Windows 10’s low system requirements How Much Space Do You Need to Run Windows 10? Windows 10 is compact. You can strip it back even further to make it take up the least amount of disk space possible. Read More , lots of people are using the operating system on computers that don’t have the same amount of space as more modern models.

Whatever the reason, if you hit your limit, you’ll want to know how to free up space without deleting your personal media.

Here are six tips for freeing up disk space Save Tons of Disk Space on Windows 10 With This Quick Tip Disabling this particular feature in Windows could free up gigabytes of disk space instantly. Read More on Windows 10.

1. Delete Old Versions of Windows

Windows automatically saves data from older versions of Windows after you upgrade. This lets you roll back to previous versions How to Uninstall the Windows 10 Anniversary Update The Anniversary Update has arrived for Windows 10 and many people aren't happy with it. If you want to get rid of it, here's how to do it the easy way. Read More if needed, however, the old data takes up a lot of space.

Even if you already knew this, you might not have realized that installing the latest Anniversary Update 9 Windows 10 Anniversary Update Features You'll Love Are you still on the fence about the Windows 10 Anniversary Update? We have summarized the most important new features. Be sure to try all of them if you've already upgraded! Read More will also leave behind such files. Luckily, deleting them is easy How to Free Up Disk Space After Windows 10 Anniversary Update After updating to the Anniversary Update, you'll find that you have a lot less space on your drive. Here's how to free it back up! Read More .


Open the Settings app, navigate to System > Storage, and click on your primary drive. You will be presented with a list of different categories along with how much space they’re using. Scroll down until you find Temporary Files, then click on it.


Lastly, mark the checkbox next to Previous Versions of Windows and hit Remove Files.



(Note: You can still use the old Disk Clean-up method, if you prefer).

2. Clear the Update Cache

Another way of removing storage space that’s being unnecessarily hogged by Windows is to delete the update cache 7 Hidden Windows Caches & How to Clear Them Cached files can take up a lot of bytes. While dedicated tools can help you free up disk space, they might not clear it all. We show you how to manually release storage space. Read More .

The update cache consists of copies of the update installation files. The operating system uses them if you’re ever forced to reapply an update; it saves downloading them again. Although it’s a good idea, they take up a lot of space. Unless you either have a very slow Internet connection or you’re seriously limited with data caps by your ISP, you can safely remove them.

Sadly, the process is not particularly straightforward.


The first step is stopping the Windows Update service. Search for Services, right-click on the top result, and open it as an administrator.


Next, scroll down the list of entries until you find Windows Update. Right-click on it and choose Stop.



Now you’ll need to delete the files. Press Windows key + R to open the run box, then type C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\ and hit Enter.


You can delete everything within the Downloads folder.

Lastly, you’ll need to head back to services and re-enable Windows Update.

(Note: This is also an excellent way to remove corrupted update files How to Fix a Corrupted Windows 10 Installation System corruption is the worst that could happen to your Windows installation. We show you how to get Windows 10 back on track when suffering from BSODs, driver errors, or other unexplained issues. Read More .)

3. Delete Hibernation Data

Hibernate and Sleep are two ways of conserving power How Much Energy Does Your PC Use? (And 8 Ways to Cut It Down) Wondering if computers use a lot of power? It's time to learn how much electricity your computer is using and how to reduce it. Read More when you’re not using your Windows machine.

There is one key difference – Sleep mode saves all your open documents and running applications to your device’s RAM, whereas Hibernate saves it all to the hard disk. Sleep is akin to putting a television on standby, whereas Hibernate lets your computer shut down completely.

If you don’t use hibernate mode, you can disable it. This will automatically delete any associated saved data from previous hibernations.

(Clearly, you should not do this if you find yourself making regular use of the feature).

To disable it, search for Command Prompt, right-click it, and choose Open as Administrator.

Type powercfg.exe -h off and press Enter. That’s it, you won’t see a notification or confirmation.


If you change your mind, repeat the above steps, but type powercfg.exe -h on instead.

4. Delete Delivery Optimization Files

Windows 10 introduced a new update feature – called “Delivery Optimization” – that allows your computer to pull updates from other machines nearby. The theory is that updates will be delivered faster, but in practice, a lot of people have complained about higher bandwidth usage and increased memory usage.

It’s easy to delete the files, but first you’ll need to disable the feature – otherwise the files will just accumulate again.

Head to Start > Settings > Update & Security > Advanced Options > Choose How Updates Are Delivered. Once there, make sure the slider is set to the Off position.


Now search for Disk Clean-up and open the app. It’ll spend a few seconds scanning your device before presenting you with a list of files that can be removed. Scroll down until you find the entry called Delivery Optimization Files. Click in the checkbox, then hit OK. Windows will take care of the rest.


5. Delete the OEM Recovery Partition

Most computers come with an OEM recovery partition. Thanks to Windows 10, they are largely redundant and can be safely removed. Unfortunately, the only way to do this is to create a recovery drive. Typically, this means using a USB stick.

Windows comes with a handy tool for creating a drive; you can find it by searching for Create a Recovery Drive from the Taskbar.

6 Tips to Free Up Disk Space in Windows 10 recovery drive

Follow the on-screen instructions and enter a USB stick when prompted. Once the process is finished, you’ll see the option to delete the recovery partition from your PC on the final screen. Click the link and choose Delete to proceed.

6. Delete the Windows 10 Recovery Partition

Warning: Only proceed with this option if you are desperate because you will lose the ability to use any of Windows 10’s recovery options and you will not be able to boot into the recovery environment to troubleshoot other aspects of the operating system.

It’s highly advisable to make complete backups of your data and create a USB recovery drive before continuing.

Firstly, open Command Prompt as an administrator. Type Diskpart and press Enter, then type List disk and press Enter again.


Next, type Select disk X (replace the X with the number of the disk where your recovery partition is saved). Then type List volume.

You’ll be shown a list of all the volumes on the disk, including your recovery partition. Type Select volume X (replace X with the correct number, on my machine, it’s Volume 2).


Lastly, type Delete volume and hit Enter.

How Do You Save Space?

I’ve shown you six cool tricks for your Windows 10 computer, but I know you’ll have lots more interesting tips and ideas to free up disk space How to Free Up Storage Space to Run Windows 10 Did you run out of space for Windows 10, but want to upgrade or add more apps and data? We have compiled resources that will help you free up disk space on and for Windows... Read More that can help out your fellow readers.

What settings have you tweaked to get more from your disk space? Have you found a cool Windows 10 disk saving feature that I’ve not covered? I’d love you to get in touch with your own ideas in the comments box below.

Related topics: Computer Maintenance, Windows 10, Windows Update.

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  1. Philippe Verdy
    January 29, 2019 at 8:47 pm

    Just use the "DISM++" free tool to autoamte almost all this. It's a clean tool that works very fast and is very reliable on all versions of Windows 10 (including Insider versions, and Pro editions, though I did not test it in Enterprise editions)
    It does not even need to be installed: a zip to download and extract, you can remove the "arm64" and "x86" subfolders safely if you just use the "x64" version (for Intel/AMD 64-bit versions of Windows).
    Then run from it: a basic UI that contains a section for cleanup, another that will automate installations of Windows Update (much faster than the default Windows Updates in the Settings), will allow you to easily install or remove optional Windows features (including languages), will cleanup the old restoration points (it creates a new retoration point and delete the older ones that take considerable space).
    On a typical Windows 10 Pro + Office installation and some apps like alternate browser, you'll immediately save about 20 GB just after a clean installation of Windows or about 16GB after each release (most of the space is taken by system updates, and restoration points).
    It also contains various settings of the UI experience in File Explorer or Settings (including settings that are hard to fond or no longer accessible with the new Settings, and some that were removed from the UI of the Control Panel: many of them are jsut registry settings). It can also cleanup your browsers (not just Edge or IE), and help you customize a version of Windows before doing a SysPrep for creating a new reinstallable ISO, and you can setup the Sysprep settings to include the favorite apps you want to have preinstalled.

    It can also remove all the commercial "bloatware" that Microsoft adds (even when they are very undesirable, such as games or social networks like Facebook, or media apps like Netflix on a Windows Pro!).

    It will also help you remove old unnecessary drivers coming with Windows (don't wrotty Windows can reinstall them from Windows Update if needed).

    It also cleanups the "WinSxS" containing multiple versions of system files in cache.

    It also automates the compression of read-only system files (you can save an additional amount of about 6GB, without impact on performance).So your cleaned version of Windows would take less than 16GB (including with a 8GB swapfile and the 1.5GB pagefile with Universale Windows Appx from MS Store), plus the hybernation file if you configured hybernation for fast boot (not needed at all if your system drive is a SSD): with the cleanups, you Windows startup time (starting just before UEFI or lagacy BIOS boots)..

    And it's compeltely free, translated in many languages (the original language is Simplified Chinese). And it's safe because it does everything that adminsitrators would otherwise do with Windows builtin "DISM" tool (but from the console with overly complex syntax and parameters).

    You can find it on the author's site ( The English translation is complete, even though the release notes are most often written only in Chinese for now. But they are quite easy to translate to Englush using an online Translator and copy-pasting it to it.

    It has extensive online support (in English or Chinese) but the tool is supported in various other languages (including major European ones, in Latin, Cyrlllic, Japanese, Turkish...)