How to Free Up Disk Space

1. Empty the Recycle Bin

For many people, a hard drive cleanup will begin and end by emptying the trash can. But when you right-click and select Delete on Windows, that file hasn’t actually been deleted yet. And unless you have a program or setting that regularly clears out your Recycle Bin, its contents will build up over time and take up huge amounts of space. Luckily, deleting all this data takes just a few clicks, and the question of how to get more disk space is solved.

Simply right-click the Recycle Bin icon on your desktop, and then click Empty Recycle Bin.

That’s it! Just make sure to look through the Recycle Bin before deleting. You can retrieve a file by right-clicking and restoring it to its original location.

Be aware that if you delete a file on an external HDD, and if that file is bigger than your available space on your main hard drive, you may receive a notice that you’re about to permanently delete the file. As with anything, make sure to read before deciding to click. 

2. Use Disk Cleanup

Windows comes with an automated app for deleting all kinds of things, including obsolete Windows files and anything in the Recycle Bin. Here’s how to clear up disk space on Windows 10:

  1. Step 1. Type Disk Cleanup in the taskbar.
  2. Step 2. Click Disk Cleanup and choose a drive to clean.
  3. Step 3. The Disk Cleanup utility shows you everything you can delete and how much space you will clear up. All of these are safe to delete, except Windows ESD Installation Files. Leave that unchecked.
  4. Step 4. You can delete even more if you click Clean up system files (see the screenshot in step 2), which gives you additional options for file deletion.

3. Delete temporary files

Disk Cleanup doesn’t remove temporary files created by Chrome and other browsers, so you’ll have to remove them from within those programs. Clearing your cache on Mac and PC is handled within your browser’s settings — look for a button that says Clear Cache. The button is usually close to one that lets you delete browser cookies. 

Cache sizes can easily reach several gigabytes. If you’re wondering how to get more disk space, one way is to flush out all the data your browser automatically saves onto your computer.

4. Delete duplicate files

You can manually go through your files and find unnecessary doubles, or you can use a program that detects duplicates for you. Using an app will prevent you from deleting folders with identical names but different contents. This is about how to free disk space, not how to delete precious memories!

5. Uninstall applications

Unused or useless programs like bloatware might be taking up space on your computer, and uninstalling them can increase your available hard drive space. Here’s how to uninstall unnecessary applications on your Windows PC, and how to free up disk space as a result:

  1. Step 1. Type Add or remove programs in the taskbar, and select Add or remove programs.
  2. Step 2. Scroll through the list of programs on your computer and remove them from here. Look up any program names you don’t recognize before deleting them. Anything with Microsoft or Windows in the name is probably important and shouldn’t be touched. If it isn’t important, it should get removed by Disk Cleanup anyway.
  3. Step 3. Click the program you want to uninstall and click Uninstall.

6. Configure System Restore

System Restore lets Windows restore critical files that might have been lost in a recent update. You can usually leave it as is — unless you’re really hurting for space. 

System Restore reserves a certain amount of space on your hard drive so it can do its job. Here’s how to use System Restore to set aside space on your hard disk: 

  1. Step 1. Type System protection or Create a restore point in the Taskbar. Select Create a restore point.
  2. With your main Windows drive highlighted, click Configure.
  3. Set the Max Usage amount using the slider. The default setting is usually optimal for your PC, and you should only change this if nothing else has worked for you.

It’s up to you to decide what’s more important: a failsafe mechanism that might save you one day, or increased disk space. Proceed with caution.


Insufficient disk space can slow down your device and prevent you from saving files and installing essential security updates. We’ll show you how to clear disk space on Windows and Mac by emptying your recycle bin, using disk cleanup utilities, deleting temporary files, and uninstalling applications. 

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