How to clear disk space on Windows?

Low disk space problems and warnings:

More than often, we face challenges managing the disk space on our computers. It is not uncommon to open the Computer and finding a few drive partitions in red color. Funny thing is that from Windows Vista onwards, they warn you with a red colored bar for your partition as soon as they are 85% to 90% full. I also tried to figure out a way to change this feature by altering the warning threshold but we cannot do it as percentage values are hard coded. This can be a real pain if you have a partition of 500 Gb and windows shows you a red partition at 50 Gb free disk. 

In extreme case, you will get pop up from the notification area. As far as the "Running out of disk space" type of pop up warning goes, here are the thresholds:

  • Running out of disk space : 200 MB
  • Running very low on disk  : 80 MB
  • Running very low on disk  : 50 MB
  • Run out of disk space       : disk full

Now, coming to the solution to this problem

There are many ways to tackle this issue, enlisted below:
  1. Disk cleanup (provided as solution by Windows)
  2. Clean temporary files in "temp" and other directories
  3. Using 3rd party tools and analyzers
  4. Searching and deleting large files

1. Disk cleanup : 

This tool can be opened by right clicking on the partition > properties > Disk Cleanup (in the General tab)


Here you can clean up the recycle bin and also any old restore points that may be taking several gigabytes of space. 

2. Clean temporary files

A simple way to clean up your C drive is by pressing Win+R keys and typing %temp% and pressing enter. 

Now you can Ctrl+A and Delete . If you get any warning, just skip those files. 

There are some advanced ways to clean individual Cache and Temp files for applications but that can do harm in novice hands so I wont include here. If you are confident you can go ahead with that too.

3. Using 3rd party tools

There are some 3rd party tools that can analyse your disk and tell you which files are taking what space. What is the space occupied by system, videos, music and documents, etc. 

While some of these are free, best ones are paid and are not of much use anyway. I recommend not to install such bloatware as you can do this manually in method 4 described below.

4. Searching and deleting large files 

It is not well known that even Windows provides this same feature in it's file explorer and can be used very easily. 

Press Ctrl+F to bring the search utility :

Here on the top, right side, you will find the search box. You can type 'size:gigantic'. It will show you all files larger than 128 MB. Yes, that's the funny thing about Windows: it categorizes files larger than 128 MB as gigantic. One you search for this, you can see all the files that match this criteria. You may be surprised to find many useless files, videos, etc that were taking several gigabytes of space on your disk. You can apply other filters too like .mp3 or .avi to filter out only those kind of large files.

This trick works everywhere in explorer, in all folders. If you quickly want to find a txt file in a heap of audio songs, for example if you want to find a playlist then simply go to that folder and type size:tiny which will show you small text files.

Here is the full list for your reference and no need to remember this. When you type 'size:' , Explorer will prompt you with the options:

condition filter size
size:empty 0 kb (empty)
size:tiny 1-10kb
size:small 10-100kb
size:medium 100kb-1Mb
size:large 1-16mb
size:huge 16-128mb
size:gigantic 128mb+

If you have anything else in mind, please leave your comment below, it will be added here. Thanks for reading, hope that this helps you.Please note that you need to be careful before you obliterate your disk of unnecessary files and be double sure that you will not need them in future. 


Arindra Mishra

A blogger, a photographer and an Engineer. I write about technology, engineering and photogrpahy.


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