In this video, learn how to improve storage capacity by removing unwanted files, uninstalling programs, running Disk Cleanup, and archiving large files.
- [Teacher] One item people underestimate when they buy a computer is mass storage capacity. A 500-gigabyte hard drive may seem like an ideal size a few years ago, but today, it's just not enough storage. One solution is to augment primary storage and a second hard drive. Adding another hard drive is easy. Either installing it internally or adding an external drive. But that's not the problem. No, the problem is to remember to use the second hard drive. Windows is configured to install software and save your files on the primary hard drive.
You must make an effort to use the secondary hard drive every time you save a file, open a file, or install new software. Another solution is to clone the primary mass storage device. How that works is that you install a second internal drive, one of higher capacity, then you duplicate the current drive to the new drive using special cloning software. You remove the original drive and carry on with the second higher-capacity drive. This operation works, and it's very technical and scary.
As an alternative to these hardware choices, Windows presents a host of software tools you can use to squeeze more capacity from the PC's primary storage device. The quick solutions are Disk Cleanup, removing unwanted software, and archiving larger files. Another option is drive compression, and I'll explain later why that choice is unpopular. I'll start with a few of the easy tricks first. Press the Windows+E key combination to summon a File Explorer window.
Choose This PC to view the PC's storage devices. An over-capacity drive shows a red thermometer in Tiles view. Suppose that drive C is suffering from that condition. It's not, so just pretend. Right-click the drive and choose Properties. In the Properties dialog box, click the Disk Cleanup button. Windows scans the storage device for files you may no longer need. These files are of no consequence, so they can easily be removed to increase storage capacity.
Here you see the results, with various categories of files listed and how much space will be freed. Not every item might be checked, so review the list to see if you're okay checking some items that the utility has left blank. Pretty much everything in this list is inconsequential, yet the total amount of storage freed is 28.3 megabytes. You can also click the Clean Up System Files button to see if any items there may help improve the amount of storage freed. When you click the button, the program starts again, but it also includes some Windows system files.
Here are some additional files I can choose to remove. And again, these are inconsequential. And the total amount of storage freed has increased to 56.8 megabytes. Click OK, and click Delete Files. You can check the pie chart after it's done to see if anything has noticeably improved. And of course there's not really a lot that was cleaned up, so the pie chart really didn't change much. Another step you can take to increase storage capacity is to remove software you don't use.
This would include older programs, but also some of the bloatware pre-installed on the computer. To remove software in Windows 10, press the Windows+I keyboard shortcut to bring up the Settings app. Choose System. Apps & Features. Sort the list by size, which may help you determine whether a program you seldom use is worth the space it consumes. Also, ensure that you've chosen the proper drive for the list, otherwise you're viewing programs that may be installed on a secondary drive.
Here you see installed software on this computer. Some of these programs I use, but some of them I may not use. To uninstall a program I don't use that's occupying a lot of space, I click to select the program, then I click the Uninstall button. To confirm that the program will be uninstalled, click the Uninstall button again, the second one shown here. Repeat this process for other programs you may find in the list you don't use that often. Beyond software, your own files can occupy a great amount of storage space, especially downloaded videos.
To locate those and other humongous files, use the Windows Search command. Open a File Explorer window and navigate to the storage device that's running close to full capacity. Here, once again, I'll pretend that it's drive C. Click the Search box. In the Search Tools, Search tab, choose Size > Gigantic. Watch the window fill with files on that storage device that consume a lot of space. Now if this option yields too few results, you can choose Size > Huge instead and go down the list.
Also, insist that the list is sorted by file size. On the View tab, choose Sort By > Size. This list shows a lot of big files. Some of them most likely are mystery files that you have no clue what they could be. On my computer, I routinely find raw video files. You may find similar files or typical mystery files. To resolve the mystery, right-click on a file and choose the command Open File Location. If the file isn't something you created yourself, then I'd leave it alone.
Otherwise you can delete it to free up some space. Or as an alternative, you can archive the file. You could copy it to a thumb drive or an external hard drive where it won't crowd your primary storage device. The one other space-saving trick that's available, but which I do not recommend, is hard drive compression. It's found on the hard drive's Properties dialog box, as shown earlier. This tool was common years ago, but hard drive capacity didn't keep pace with software bloat. You could effectively turn an entire disk into a giant ZIP archive.
While that did allow for more storage, this feature created some overhead, and it decreased hard drive performance. It was really just a temporary workaround, and it's a feature that has lingered in Windows ever since. My advice is to ignore it, and instead, use the other techniques mentioned in this movie to improve hard drive storage.
- Diagnosing the causes of PC issues
- Troubleshooting hardware and software
- Performing startup and system restore steps
- Accessing the Task Manager
- Using the Registry Editor
- Fixing Windows
- Maintaining storage drives
- Restoring network connectivity