Tips to free up drive space on your PC

Getting a message that your PC is running out of room can be a stressful event—or, even a genuine emergency if you're in the middle of an important project. The good news is you can probably free up a lot of space by using the following tips. But if you keep getting messages about low drive space, you might want to consider other options, including adding additional removable storage.

To get the most out of these tips, do them in order from top to bottom.

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Check the current space on your PC

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, tap Settings, and then tap Change PC settings.
    (If you're using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, click Settings, and then click Change PC settings.)

  2. Tap or click PC and devices, and then tap or click Disk space.

  3. Under Free up space on this PC, note the amount of free space and total size.

    Tips

    • You can view the size of your Windows Store apps and choose whether to uninstall them by tapping or clicking See my app sizes.

    • You can also free up space by tapping or clicking Empty my Recycle Bin if you have files there. For more info, see Recyle Bin: FAQ.

Notes

  • If you don't see Disk space, you don't have the latest update to Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1. For more info, see Install the latest Windows 8.1 Update.

  • You can also check the current space on your PC in File Explorer by searching for This PC.

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.

  1. To open Disk Cleanup from the desktop, swipe in from the right edge of the screen, tap Settings (or if you're using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, and then click Settings), tap or click Control Panel, type Admin in the Search box, tap or click Administrative Tools, and then double-tap or double-click Disk Cleanup.

  2. If prompted, tap or click the drive that you want to clean up, and then tap or click OK.

  3. In the Disk Cleanup dialog box in the Description section, tap or click Clean up system files. Administrator permission required You might be asked for an admin password or to confirm your choice.

  4. If prompted, tap or click the drive that you want to clean up, and then tap or click OK.

  5. 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 tap or click OK.

  6. In the message that appears, tap or click Delete files.

  7. Go back to Computer in File Explorer, tap or click the drive you cleaned up, and then tap or click Refresh. If you need to free more space (the drive is still marked red), go to the next tip.

Uninstall desktop apps you no longer need

Uninstall desktop apps you don't need anymore in Programs and Features.

  1. Open Programs and Features 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 Programs and Features in the search box, and then tapping or clicking Programs and Features.

  2. Tap or click a program, and then tap or click Uninstall, Change, or Repair. Administrator permission required You might be asked for an admin password or to confirm your choice.

Uninstall Windows Store apps you no longer need

You can also uninstall Store apps you don't want anymore.

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, tap Settings, and then tap Change PC settings.
    (If you're using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, click Settings, and then click Change PC settings.)

  2. Tap or click Search and apps, and then tap or click App sizes to see how much space each app is taking on the local drive.

  3. Once you locate an app you want to uninstall, tap or click the app, and then tap or click Uninstall.

Note

  • This will only uninstall Store apps from your user account.

Archive or delete files you're no longer using

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. For more info, see Copy or move files and folders.

  1. 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.

  2. In the Search This PC box in the upper-right, enter size:huge.

  3. Tap or click the View menu, tap or click Sort by, and then tap or click Size. The largest files display at the top.

  4. Once you locate a file you want to delete, press and hold or right-click the file and then tap or click Delete.

Reduce the size of the WinSxS folder

Warning

  • Deleting files from the WinSxS folder or deleting the entire WinSxS folder might severely damage your system and make it impossible to restart or update your PC.

The WinSxS folder is located in the Windows folder on your PC (for example, C:\Windows\WinSxS). It stores the Windows Component Store files, which are used to support functions needed to customize and update Windows. You can use the Task Scheduler to reduce the size of this folder.

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Search.
    (If you're using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, and then click Search.)

  2. Enter Control Panel in the search box, and then tap or click Control Panel.

  3. Tap or click System and Security, and then tap or click Schedule tasks under Administrative Tools.

  4. Tap or click the arrow next to Task Scheduler Library, tap or click Microsoft, tap or click Windows, and then tap or click Servicing.

  5. Tap or click StartComponentCleanup, and then tap or click Run under Selected item.

Make OneDrive files available only-online

If you're using OneDrive to save files to the cloud, you need at least 200 MB of free drive space plus the size of the files to make these OneDrive files available offline. To free up space, you can make some files or folders online-only.

Notes

  • If you have Access all files offline turned on, you need to first turn off this setting before you can make files online-only. For instructions, see Getting to files when you're offline.

  • If you have pending uploads to OneDrive, you need to wait until they are completed before making files online-only.

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To make files online-only using the OneDrive app

  1. On the Start screen, tap or click OneDrive to open the OneDrive app.

  2. Browse to the file or folder you want to make online-only.

  3. Swipe down or right-click the file or folder to select it.

  4. Tap or click Make online-only.

    To make your entire OneDrive online-only, swipe in from the right edge of the screen (or, if you're using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, and move the mouse pointer up), tap or click Settings, tap or click Options, and then tap or click Make all files online-only.

To make files online-only using File Explorer

  1. Open File Explorer 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 File Explorer in the search box, and then tapping or clicking File Explorer.

  2. Browse to the file or folder you want to make online-only.

  3. Press and hold or right-click the file or folder, and then choose Make available online-only.

    To make your entire OneDrive online-only, press and hold or right-click OneDrive, and then choose Make available online-only.

For more info about changing the availability of OneDrive files, see Online-only files and files available offline.

Move your OneDrive files to a removable drive

The removable drive will need to be formatted with the NTFS file system.

To check space availability

Before you move your OneDrive files, you should make sure the removable drive has enough space to store your files. Follow these steps:

  1. Open File Explorer 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 File Explorer in the search box, and then tapping or clicking File Explorer.

  2. Press and hold or right-click OneDrive.

  3. Tap or click Properties, and then look at the amount next to Size on disk.

  4. In File Explorer, tap or click This PC, and then see how much space is free on the removable drive.

To move your OneDrive files

First, you'll need to create a folder on the removable drive for your OneDrive files. After you create the folder, follow these steps to move your files:

Warning

  • Moving your OneDrive files will cancel any pending uploads.

  1. In File Explorer, press and hold or right-click OneDrive.

  2. Tap or click Properties, and then tap or click the Location tab.

  3. Tap or click Move.

  4. Browse to the removable drive, and then tap or click Select Folder.

  5. In the OneDrive Properties dialog box, tap or click OK.

  6. In the Move Folder dialog box, tap or click Yes.

    Your OneDrive files have been moved to the new drive. You can now delete the old OneDrive location.

Add more storage

A longer-term strategy for expanding your PC's storage capacity is to add removable storage, including SD cards, USB flash drives, DVDs or CDs, or using cloud storage or network drives.

Removable storage options:

  • Secure Digital (SD) cards: There are few different types of cards, including SD (32.0x24 mm), miniSD (21.5x20 mm), and microSD (15.0x11 mm). It's important to check with your PC manufacturer to understand which types of SD cards options are available on your PC.

    Tip

    • If you're using Surface, you can add up to 64 GB of storage with a microSD card. On Surface RT, the microSD card reader is located under the kickstand on the right side. On Surface Pro, the card reader is located on the right edge, above the power connection.

  • USB and external drives. Most PCs include one or more USB ports that you can plug a USB flash or external drives into. Some newer PCs include a USB 3.0 port, which includes faster transfer speeds of up to 10 times USB 2.0. While you can use a USB 2.0 flash drive in a USB 3.0 port (at USB transfer speeds), you can't use a USB 3.0 flash drive with a USB 2.0 port. Check with your PC manufacturer to understand which USB ports your PC supports.

  • DVDs and CDs. If your PC has a CD, DVD, or Blu‑ray Disc drive that can read and write to a blank disc, you can use the drive to store data, much like a SD or USB flash drive. Here's how: When you insert a blank disc into the PC, choose Like a USB flash drive from the list of options.

  • Cloud storage using OneDrive. Windows comes with the OneDrive app, which helps you get to your free OneDrive storage in the cloud, sometimes referred to as online storage. You can save files to OneDrive and work with them in several different ways: on the website (OneDrive.com), with the app for Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1, with the desktop apps for a PC or Mac, and with apps for your mobile devices. For more info, see Getting started with OneDrive.

    To see how much storage is available, and add more storage, swipe in from the right edge of the screen (or, if you're using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen), tap or click Settings, tap or click Change PC settings, and then tap or click OneDrive. You can also go to Manage storage on the OneDrive website.