If you get a message that your PC or laptop is running out of space, it can be a stressful event, especially if you are in the middle of something important. Over time, as we browse the web, get emails or backup photos from our phones, our computers fill up. For those who are not aware, the storage part inside your computer is called the hard drive or the solid state drive. We'll call them both a "drive" for now. [Which drive is right for me - hard drive or solid state drive]
It is possible to upgrade that part of the computer so that you can fit more photos, or apps. But a lot of the time it's not necessary to upgrade. Some of the files on your current drive can be deleted without any issues, and in some cases there may be temporary files on your drive which take up many gigabytes of space.
This guide will help you clean up some space on your computer's drive. If after following this guide you still encounter issues with space, or if you would like to upgrade your drive to a Solid State Drive, just pop down to your nearest SimplyFixIt Repair Centre and we'll fix that for you.
In order to get the most from this guide you should follow the instructions in the order that they appear.
Check the current space on your PC
The first step depends on what version of Microsoft windows that you have.
- In Windows 10, search for "file explorer" (quotes not required) and then tap or click on the File Explorer result. (Tip: There are at least 10 ways to open File Explorer in Windows 10
- In Windows 8 or Windows 8.1, search for "this pc" and then tap or click on the This PC result.
- In Windows 7 or Windows Vista, click the Start button, followed by Computer.
- In Windows XP, click Start and then My Computer.
- On the left-hand side of File Explorer or Windows Explorer (depending on your version of Windows), make sure This PC, Computer, or My Computer is selected (again, based on your version of Windows).
- On the right-hand side, find the drive you want to know how much free space is left on. In Windows 10, 8.1 & 8, all storage devices are listed in the Devices and drives area. In Windows 7, Vista, and XP, Hard Disk Drives and Devices with Removable Storage are listed separately.
In newer versions of Windows, you can see right under the drive listing how much free space is left on it, as well as the total size of the drive, in a format like this:
Local Disk (C:) 49.0 GB free of 118 GB
Use Disk Cleanup
Cleaning out your PC on a regular basis frees up drive space and helps it run better. One of the easiest ways to clean up files you no longer need is by using Disk Cleanup.
- Open Disk Cleanup by clicking the Start button. In the search box, type Disk Cleanup, and then, in the list of results, select Disk Cleanup.
- If prompted, select the drive that you want to clean up, and then select OK
- In the Disk Cleanup dialog box in the Description section, select Clean up system files.
- If prompted, select the drive that you want to clean up, and then select OK.
- In the Disk Cleanup dialog box, on the Disk Cleanup tab, select the check boxes for the file types that you want to delete, and then select OK. To remove data from a previous installation of Windows, select the Previous Windows installation(s) check box.
- In the message that appears, select Delete files.
- Go back to Computer in File Explorer, select the drive you cleaned up, and then select Refresh. If you need to free more space (the drive is still marked red), go to the next tip.
Uninstall applications that you no longer need
To uninstall or change a program
- Open Programs and Features by clicking the Start button , clicking Control Panel, clicking Programs, and then clicking Programs and Features.
- Select a program, and then click Uninstall. Some programs include the option to change or repair the program in addition to uninstalling it, but many simply offer the option to uninstall. To change a program, click Change or Repair. Administrator permission required If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
Archive or Delete files that you no longer use
If you have photos, music, videos, or other files that you want to keep but don't necessarily want on your PC, consider saving them to removable media, such as an external drive, USB drive, DVD, or cloud storage. You'll still be able to view those files as long as your PC is connected to the removable media or cloud storage, but they won't take up space on your PC.
- Open This PC by swiping in from the right edge of the screen, tapping Search (or if you're using a mouse, pointing to the upper-right corner of the screen, moving the mouse pointer down, and then clicking Search), entering This PC in the search box, and then tapping or clicking This PC.
- In the Search This PC box in the upper-right, enter size:huge.
- Select the View menu, select Sort by, and then select Size. The largest files display at the top.
- Once you locate a file you want to delete, press and hold or right-click the file and then select Delete.