How to Free Up Space in Windows 11

Freeing up disk space will make your computer run faster, help improve stability and prevent crashes. This guide will show you some easy ways to free up space on your computer’s hard drive in Windows 11.

Free up space with Disk Cleanup

Disk Cleanup is a utility that comes with every version of Windows. The utility scans your drive and displays a list of files that can be deleted, including temporary files, internet cache files, and unused programs.

Note: Each of these unwanted files has a brief description so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not you want to delete it.

  1. Go to the search menu, type “Disk Cleanup,” and open the app.

    Type Disk Cleanup.
    Type Disk Cleanup.
  2. Select the drive you want to clean up and click OK.

    Select the drive you want to clean.
    Select the drive you want to clean.
  3. Disk Cleanup will scan your drive and display a list of file types you can delete. Check the boxes next to the file types you want to delete and click OK.

    Click the checkboxes for the files you want to delete.
    Click the checkboxes for the files you want to delete.
  4. Disk Cleanup will confirm that you want to delete the files and then delete them.

Clear System Restore and Shadow Copies

System Restore is a feature that automatically creates and saves restore points, which are snapshots of your system at different points in time. System Restore snapshots can take up a lot of space on your hard drive, so you can delete them if you’re low on space. However, delete only the old versions you no longer use or create another restore point before you delete any snapshots.

  1. Search for “Disk Cleanup” in the search menu and open it.

    Type Disk Cleanup.
    Type Disk Cleanup.
  2. Select the “C” drive and click OK.

    Select the C drive.
    Select the C drive.
  3. Click the Clean up system files button.

    Click the Clean up system files button.
    Click the Clean up system files button.
  4. Again, select the “C” drive and click OK.

    Select the C drive.
    Select the C drive.
  5. Click More Options.

    Click More Options.
    Click More Options.
  6. Under System Restore and Shadow Copies, click Clean up.

    Click Clean up.
    Click Clean up.
  7. Confirm that you want to delete the system restore points and click Delete.

    Click Delete.
    Click Delete.

Delete Temporary Files

Windows creates temporary files when you open programs on your computer. These files are typically deleted when you close the program that created them, but some of them can stick around. Over time, these temporary files can take up considerable on your hard drive.

  1. Open the Settings app.

    Open the Settings app.
    Open the Settings app.
  2. Click System > Storage.

    Click System > Storage.
    Click System > Storage.
  3. Click the Temporary files tab.

    Select the Temporary files option.
    Select the Temporary files option.
  4. A list of file types will be displayed. Read the brief description under each file type to make sure you want to delete it. Check the boxes next to the file types you want to delete and click Remove files.

    Checkboxes for the files you want to delete.
    Check the boxes next to the file types you want to delete.

Use Cleanup Recommendations

Cleanup recommendations is a Windows feature that suggests files you can delete to free up space. These are based on which files are taking up the most space.

  1. Open the Settings app.

    Open the Settings app.
    Open the Settings app.
  2. Click System > Storage.

    Click System > Storage.
    Click System > Storage.
  3. Click the Cleanup recommendations tab.

    Click the Cleanup recommendations tap.
    Click the Cleanup recommendations tab.
  4. There are four sections: Temporary filesLarge or unused filesFiles synced to the cloud, and Unused apps. Under each section, there is a list of files you can delete.

    There are four sections, under each section, there is a list of files you can delete.
    There are four sections, and under each section is a list of files you can delete.
  5. Check the boxes next to the files you want to delete and select Clean up.

    Check the boxes next to the files you want to delete and click Clean up.
    Check the boxes next to the files you want to delete and click Clean up.

Use Storage Sense

Storage Sense is a background feature that monitors your computer and automatically deletes temporary or unused files and unused programs.

  1. Open Settings.

    Open the Settings app.
    Open the Settings app.
  2. Click System > Storage.

    Click System > Storage.
    Click System > Storage.
  3. Select Storage Sense.

    Select Storage Sense.
    Select Storage Sense.
  4. Check the Cleanup of temporary files box.

    Check the Cleanup of temporary files box.
    Check the Cleanup of temporary files box.
  5. Switch on the toggle for Automatic User content cleanup.

    Switch the toggle to On.
    Switch the toggle to On.
  6. There are three options, Run Storage SenseDelete files in my recycle bin if they have been there for over, and Delete files in my downloads folder if they haven’t been opened for more than. Choose the time frame you want for each option.

    Choose a time frame for each alternative you wish the files to be deleted.
    Choose a time frame for each option.
  7. After making selections, click Run Storage Sense now.

    Click the Run Storage Sense now button.
    Click the Run Storage Sense now button.

Clear Browser Data

Browsers save a lot of data like cookies, cache, and browsing history. This data can be helpful when revisiting a website as it can load faster and take up a lot of space. You can clear this data to free up space – we’ll use Google Chrome as an example.

  1. Open Google Chrome and click the three dots in the top-right corner.
  2. Click More tools > Clear browsing data.

    Click More tools and then Clear browsing data…
    Click More tools and then Clear browsing data…
  3. A pop-up window will appear. Check the boxes next to the type of data you want to delete, then click Clear data.

    Check the boxes next to the type of data you want to delete and click Clear data.
    Check the boxes next to the type of data you want to delete and click Clear data.

Uninstall Unused Apps and Games

If you have apps and games you no longer use, uninstall them to free up space.

  1. Open the Settings app.

    Open the Settings app.
    Open the Settings app.
  2. Click Apps > Apps & features.

    Click Apps > Apps & features.
    Click Apps > Apps & features.
  3. A list of installed apps will be displayed. Sort them by size to find the largest ones.

    Sort the apps by size.
    Sort the apps by size.
  4. Click the three dots button next to the unwanted app and click Uninstall.

    Click the three dots button next to the unwanted app and click Uninstall.
    Click the three dots button next to the unwanted app and click Uninstall.
  5. Confirm that you want to uninstall the app and click Uninstall.

    Click Uninstall.
    Click Uninstall.

Delete Maps

Sometimes, you may have downloaded maps you no longer need. You can delete these maps to free up space on your hard drive.

  1. Open the Settings app.

    Open the Settings app.
    Open the Settings app.
  2. Click Apps > Offline maps."Click Apps
  3. Click the map you want to delete and click the trash symbol.

    Click the trash symbol.
    Click the trash symbol.

Use the OneDrive File On-Demand

OneDrive is a cloud storage service that comes with Windows 11. Your files are automatically saved to the cloud if this service is active. This can be useful if you want to free up space on your hard drive.

  1. Click the OneDrive icon in the Notification area.

    Click the OneDrive icon in the Notification area.
    Click the OneDrive icon in the Notification area.
  2. Press Help & Settings > Settings.

    Press Help & Settings > Settings.
    Press Help & Settings > Settings.
  3. In the Settings tab, switch on the toggle for Save space and download files as you use them.

    Switch on the toggle for Save space and download files as you use them.
    Switch on the toggle for Save space and download files as you use them.
  4. Click OK. Once you have turned on the feature, you can upload files to the cloud and make them only available online. This will free up space on your hard drive.

    Click OK.
    Click OK.
  5. Go to File Explorer and open the OneDrive folder.

    Open the OneDrive folder.
    Open the OneDrive folder.
  6. Right-click the file you want to make available only online and click Free up space. The file will be removed from your hard drive and available only online.

    Click Free up space.
    Click Free up space.

Note: The free version of OneDrive only gives you 5GB of storage. You can subscribe to Office 365 Home or Personal if you need more storage.

Uninstall Optional Features

Windows 11 comes with many features that you may not use. You can uninstall these features to free up space on your hard drive.

  1. Open the Settings app.

    Open the Settings app.
    Open the Settings app.
  2. Click Apps > Optional features.

    Click Apps > Optional features.
    Click Apps > Optional features.
  3. A list of optional features will be displayed. Click the arrow button next to the feature you want to uninstall and click Uninstall.

    Click the arrow button next to the feature you want to uninstall and click Uninstall.
    Click the arrow button next to the feature you want to uninstall and click Uninstall.

Remove Language Packs you don’t need

If you have language packs you no longer need, now is the time to delete them.

  1. Open the Settings app.

    Open the Settings app.
    Open the Settings app.
  2. Click Time & Language > Language & region.

    Click Time & Language > Language & region.
    Click Time & Language > Language & region.
  3. Select the language you want to remove, click the three dots button, and then click Remove.

    Click the three dots button, and then click Remove.
    Click the three dots button, and then click Remove.

Delete Users and Data on Shared Devices

If you share a device with other users, it’s best to delete the data of users who no longer use it.

Note: Deleting a user account will delete all of that user’s data, so be sure to backup any important files before you delete an account.

  1. Open the Settings app.

    Open the Settings app.
    Open the Settings app.
  2. Click Accounts Family & other users.

    Click Accounts > Family & other users.
    Click Accounts > Family & other users.
  3. Select the user you want to delete and click Remove.

    Select the user you want to delete and click Remove.
    Select the user you want to delete and click Remove.

Use External Storage

Instead of keeping larger files on your computer, you can move them to external storage. An external hard drive or USB flash drive can be used for this.

  1. Connect the external hard drive or USB flash drive to your computer.
  2. Select the files you want to move, then press Ctrl + C to copy them.

    Copy the file you want to move.
    Copy the file you want to move.
  3. Go to the external hard drive or USB flash drive and press Ctrl + V to paste the files.

    Paste the file.
    Paste the file.
  4. The files will now be copied to the external hard drive or USB flash drive.
  5. Once the files have been copied, you can delete them from your hard drive to free up space.

Note: you can also drag and drop the files to the external hard drive.

Use NTFS Compression

Windows 11 includes a built-in compression feature called NTFS compression. NTFS Compression compresses specific files, resulting in them taking up less room on your hard drive. While you can still access the data, the compression may slow down your computer as it has to uncompress the files when you access them.

  1. Right-click the file or folder you want to compress and click Show more options > Properties.

    Click Properties.
  2. Click General > Advanced.

    Click General > Advanced.
    Click General > Advanced.
  3. Check the Compress contents to save disk space, then click OK.

    Check the Compress contents to save disk space box, then click OK.
    Check the Compress contents to save disk space box, then click OK.
  4. Click OK again to close the Properties window. The files will now be compressed and take up less space on your hard drive.

    Click OK.
    Click OK.

Disable Hibernation

Hibernation is a power-saving state that saves the current state of your PC to a hibernation file, then completely powers off the computer. When you start up your PC again, it restores the hibernation file and returns your computer to the same state it was in when you hibernated it.

While hibernation uses very little power, it can take up a lot of space on your hard drive. If you don’t use hibernation, you can disable it to free up space.

  1. Press the Windows key + R to open the Run dialog box.
  2. Type “powercfg.cpl” and click OK.

    Type powercfg.cpl and click OK.
    Type powercfg.cpl and click OK.
  3. Click Choose what the power buttons do.

    Click Choose what the power buttons do.
    Click Choose what the power buttons do.
  4. Press Change settings that are currently unavailable.

    Press Change settings that are currently unavailable.
    Press Change settings that are currently unavailable.
  5. Scroll down and uncheck the Hibernate box.

    Uncheck the Hibernate box.
    Uncheck the Hibernate box.
  6. Click Save changes.
    Click Save changes.
    Click Save changes.

    Hibernation will now be disabled, and the hibernation file will be deleted, freeing up space on your hard drive.

Use Compact OS

Compact OS is a feature that allows you to compress the Windows operating system. This can save you a lot of space. However, it can also make your computer run slower.

Warning: While the process is entirely safe, you’ll be making system modifications where a lot can go wrong. Before continuing, you should create a complete backup of your PC.

  1. Click the Windows key + R to open the Run dialog box.
  2. Type “cmd” and click OK.

    Open the Command Prompt.
    Open the Command Prompt.
  3. Type the following command and press Enter:
    compact.exe /CompactOS:always

    Type the command.
    Type the command.
  4. Close the Command Prompt window when the process is finished. Windows 11 will now use a compressed installation, taking up less space on your hard drive.
  5. To uncompress Windows 11, type the following command and press Enter:
    compact.exe /CompactOS:never

    Type the command.
    Type the command.

Rebuild the Windows Search index

Windows Search index is a database of all the files on your computer. When you search for something in Windows, it explores the index to find the files you’re looking for. This database can grow large, taking up much space on your hard drive.

You can rebuild the index to fix issues and reduce the size of the database.

  1. Press the Windows key + S to open the Search bar.
  2. Type “indexing options” and click the first option.

    Open the Indexing Options app.
    Open the Indexing Options app.
  3. Click Advanced.

    Click Advanced.
    Click Advanced.
  4. Press the Rebuild button.

    Press the Rebuild button.
    Press the Rebuild button.
  5. Click OK to confirm.
    Click OK to confirm.
    Click OK to confirm.

    This process may take some time. Once it’s finished, the index will be smaller and take up less space on your hard drive.

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