Your C drive getting full and out of space for whatever reason can create an uncomfortable situation for any computer user. Not only does this limit the size of the files you can work with at a time, but it could also potentially drag down the speed and performance of your computer even if the disk in question is an SSD. At the worst, this could result in some other errors that could prevent your computer from running completely.
If your computer is slow and shows high-disk usage (close to 100%) in the task manager, then see How To Fix 100% Disk Usage in Windows 10
It gets even spookier when you can’t figure out what files or data are occupying and filling up your disk space. In this article, I’ll be showing you seven easy ways to identify both hidden and unhidden files and free up some disk space on your C drive without losing valuable data. This would also solve the problem of your C drive getting full automatically when in fact you haven’t saved any major files of installed any heavy applications to it.
These seven methods will work on any version of Windows you may be running, and even if you’re not running out of disk space yet, is advisable that you perform these processes every once in a while, maybe after a couple of months or half a year depending on how you use your PC.
METHOD 1: Clear Temporary Files from Different Locations
Here, we’re going to run some simple commands to reveal temporary files in different locations on our windows. To do that you go to your search and type run, then click on the run app from the search results.
On the run search box, type %temp% and hit enter.
This will show the temporary files from your applications, so here select all the files in this folder using control C, then right-click and select delete to remove these files.
Next, go back to the run app and type temp, then hit enter. This will show windows temporary files, again here select all the files and hit delete to remove them.
Then go to run one more time and type prefetch, hit enter. Again, here select all files and hit delete to remove them.
METHOD 2. Clear Cached Windows Updates
The second approach is to clear up cached Windows updates. These are update files that Windows download automatically before installing new updates. However, after installing the updates, these temporary update files might remain in the Software Distribution folder for a long period of time, hence taking up unnecessary disk space.
Before performing this operation, consider running a full Windows updates so as to ensure that any update files already downloaded has been installed. Afterwards, you can go ahead to remove these temporary Windows update files. To remove these temporary files, go to your computer folder and click on this PC. Open the drive with your Windows installation files, usually drive C.
Open the folder named Windows and search for a folder named Software distribution.
Open the folder, select and delete all the contents. In case you’re wondering what happens if Windows hasn’t already installed those updates, not to worry, Windows will automatically download those updates again if they haven’t been installed already. As such is advisable to first run a full Windows update before doing this.
METHOD 3: Disk Cleanup
The third method is to perform a disk cleanup. The disk cleanup process allows you to locate hidden temporary files that could be hanging in some unknown locations on your disk. To perform a disk cleanup, go to your search and type disk cleanup.
Select the Disk cleanup app from the search result, you should get this pop up asking you for the drive you want to cleanup. Your hard disk is usually the drive C, so I will leave it as C here. Click ok, and wait for the disk cleanup to run.
After some time, you should see a window similar to the one below.
At the top, it shows you the amount of disk space you can free by running the cleanup utility, you can check through the list of files you’re about to delete, it also shows the corresponding size of each file or folder. Here it says I can free up about 33 GB, but nearly all of that is from my download folder. In your case, you may have all these other locations occupying a substantial amount of disk spaces, so with all unwanted locations selected, click on clean up system files, hit ok and wait for the process to complete. Afterward, you will see this window once again, here hit ok. Then delete files.NB. I’ve observed that by running this process multiple times, more and more disk space gets freed up, so you can run it a few times until you notice no further release of disk space.
METHOD 4: Use “size:” Command in Your Computer Folder Search Field
The fourth method is to use the size command in your Computer folder search field. This command takes different extensions depending on the sizes of files you want it to reveal.
- size:empty (0 KB)
- size:tiny (0 – 10 KB)
- size:small (10 – 100 KB)
- size:medium (100 KB – 1 MB)
- size:large (1 – 16 MB)
- size:huge (16 – 128 MB)
- size:gigantic (> 128 MB)
In this order, the size:gigantic command will reveal files larger than 128MB in size. This is usually a good starting point. To run this command, go to your computer and open the C drive.
Then click in the search box on the top right corner of the window and type size:gigantic, then wait for windows to list all your files larger than 128MB.
This could take a while depending on how much files you have on your computer. Afterwards, you can run the huge command and further down if you want to display files of smaller sizes.
After listing these files, you can now check to see which files are taking the most space on your disk, then check if they are files you no longer need, select those files and hit delete from your keyboard to remove them.
Always remember to empty your recycle bin after deleting unwanted files, because only then will your disk space be freed.
METHOD 5: Uninstall Unwanted Programs
This may sound like common sense, but it’s also easy to forget. Uninstalling unwanted programs and removing associated program files if no longer needed is one of the quickest ways to free up some disk spaces. It’s easy to ignore this approach especially if you haven’t installed any programs recently.
However, checking through your installed programs, you might be surprised at how many installed programs you don’t remember installing or you no longer need. The only way to verify is to check. If you do not remember why you installed a certain program, a quick google search might help to remind you the functions of this program, from there you can try to figure out whether or not you still need such programs.
Another way to verify would be to check the publisher of the unknow program. I normally won’t uninstall programs from Microsoft, except I’m fully sure what they do and verify that no other program is dependent on them.
METHOD 6: Cleanup Adobe Media Cache Files
The last method is to clean up adobe media cache files. This is mainly for those who work with lots of videos and other media files, if you use some video editing software like Premier pro or any of such applications, this method could come in handy in saving your disk space.
These are temporary files Adobe stores when you edit media files. Over time these could add up to some significant amount of disk space, so if you’re a creator or video producer, you want to perform this cleanup every once in a while.
To do that go to your computer folder and open your local disk. Next, go to users, select your user account, open AppData, select Roaming, Adobe, Common, and then Media Cache Files, here you should see all cached files from your Adobe applications.
In my case, I have about 3000 files in all. When I right-click and check properties, it shows that I have over 2 gigabytes of cached files. I try to do this clean up often, sometimes weekly or monthly depending on how much media files I edit during the time.
If you haven’t done this in a long while and you work with lots of media files on Adobe applications then these files could go up to tens of gigabytes. Here I will select all files and hit delete to remove them. I will empty my recycle bin later for this space to reflect.
METHOD 7: Delete Old Windows Installation Files (if you have any)
To do that you go to your search and type storage, click on storage from the search results. On the page below, click on Temporary files. After the scanning you should have all this list of files you can remove, among them would be your Previous Windows Installation files if you still have them on your PC.
These old Windows installation could occupy quite a substantial amount of disk space, in my case it holds about 5 GB. So I will select the box next to it, here I also have all these other locations selected by default, system memory error dump files, thumbnails and all the others which I don’t need anymore, so with all that selected I will go to the top and click on remove files to delete them. Of course you may not see this option in your temporary files if you have made a fresh windows installation or if its been a long while you upgraded from one version of Windows to another, this is because windows should automatically delete this files after a while, but if you are running out of disk space you can already delete these files manually using this method.
If after implementing the above measures you still have your PC running slow, then consider upgrading to an SSD if you are still using a mechanical hard drive. This not only speeds up your computer dramatically, but it also prevents fragmentation effects. Fragmentation is a phenomenon on mechanical hard drives where files that are mostly used together gets distributed across different memory locations, hence creating some delay in accessing these Fragmented files together when needed. SSDs by their very nature prevent such memory fragmentation.
Hope this was able to help you out. If you have any questions regarding these procedures, please post in the comment section to get more help. The video below demonstrates some of the suggestions discussed above.
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