Wednesday, April 06, 2016

6 Quick Ways to Free up Space on a Windows Device

When a Windows device with a solid state or hard drive runs out of storage space, a couple of things can happen. Without the resources needed to run them, programs will stop responding, services will stop one by one, or both will happen. The end result is inconsistent behavior as services like those that manage printing stop running, or programs like Outlook and Photoshop stop responding. Restoring services can be challenging when resources are not available, but there are some quick ways to free up space that will allow programs and services to function normally again.

Remove temporary files 
Temporary files are exactly that, files used only temporarily. Temporary files are files that were used by new programs when installed, during Windows updates, and other various log and configuration files. Once installed, these temporary files are no longer needed but easily accumulate over time. Note: There is often more than one temp folder that can be cleared. If a files is in use it will not be able to be deleted, skip these files.


Navigate to the following Temp folders and delete all the folders and files inside:
  • C:\Temp (if applicable)
  • C:\Windows\Temp
  • C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Local\Temp


Empty the Recycle Bin
This sounds like an obvious solution, but it is easy to forget to clean out the recycle bin. When files are deleted they are sent to the recycle bin so they still exist on the local machine and take up storage space. Check to verify none of the files in the Recycle Bin are important. Right-click the Recycle Bin and select the "Empty Recycle Bin" option.

One way of preventing the Recycle Bin from wasting storage space is to bypass the Recycle Bin altogether by permanently deleting items to begin with. To permanently delete a file or folder:
  • Click on a file or folder name to select it
  • Press and hold the Shift key and press the Delete key
  • When prompted to verify you want to permanently delete the file click the "Yes" button



Empty the Downloads folder
The Downloads folder is much like the Temp folder in the sense that there are files that were once used, but no longer need to be stored. Most programs and items downloaded from the Internet are temporarily stored in the Downloads folder. After the installer runs, some files are left behind taking up storage space.

To empty the Downloads folder:
  • Browse to C:\Users\UserName\Downloads
  • Select all files and folders by pressing control + A at the same time
  • Press the Delete button


Delete old user profiles no longer in use
Each time a new user is created or logs into a device, a user profile is created. A user profile stores information specific to the user including printer and network connections, program items, and more. Over time, user profiles can grow quite large as in the example in the image below.



Deleting the user profiles for people who no longer use a device can free up large amounts of storage space, but be careful to delete only those users no longer using that device. NOTE:  Do not delete the Public or Default user profiles as they are important system profiles.

 To delete a user profile:
  • Open Control Panel
  • Open "User Accounts"
  • Click the name of the user profile to remove
  • Click the Delete button
  • Click OK once all desired profiles have been removed

Remove programs no longer in use
Almost everyone is guilty of downloading programs only to find out they do not do what we expected or are overly complicated. Also, many new systems come with pre-installed software that not everyone needs or wants. Unfortunately, these programs take up space on our devices whether we are using them or not. NOTE:  When in doubt, do not delete a program you think you might need.

To remove unused programs:
  • Open Control Panel
  • Open "Programs and Features"
  • Click on the name of the program to remove
  • Click the "Uninstall/Change" button at the top of the program list
  • Follow the uninstall wizard making sure to delete corresponding data if prompted
  • Repeat for all unused programs



Delete the browser cache for web browsers
Windows devices come with the Edge or Internet Explorer web browser by default for Windows 10 and devices running earlier operating systems respectively. Many people also download secondary browsers now that there are so many to choose from. Each browser keeps its own cache of visited sites, data filled into forms, passwords and more. 

To delete a browser cache in:
  • Chrome
    • Using the 3-bar pop-out menu in the upper right corner click "Settings"
    • In the History tab of the Settings Window, click the "Clear browsing data..." button
    • In the clear browsing data window, check the box next to any item to clear which displays the amount of storage or items to clear
    • Once all items have been selected, click the "Clear browsing data" button


  • Firefox
    • Using the 3-bar pop-out menu in the upper right corner, click the "History" button


    • Click the "Clear Recent History" option at the top of the history list that displays when History is clicked
  • Edge
    • Click on the 3-dots pop-out menu in the upper right corner
    • Click "Settings" at the bottom of the menu
    • Click the "Choose what to clear" button under Clear browsing data


    • Check the boxes next to the data to clear and click the "Clear" button


  • Internet Explorer
    • Click the cog button in the upper right corner and select "Internet Options" from the pop-out menu
    • On the General tab, click the "Delete..." button under the Browsing history section
    • In the Delete Browsing History window, check the box next to each type of data to delete and click the "Delete" button


Any combination of the processes shown above can be used to quickly free up storage space on a Windows device. Running low on storage space is something that can sometimes sneak up on us as disk sizes have grown so quickly. However, running out of disk space can cause services and programs to stop running or responding. While it is imperative to develop a long term solution to running low on disk space, the solutions listed above will help provide a short term solution to provide the time necessary to create and implement the long term solution.

Read our continuation of this post for Advanced Ways to Free up Disk Space on a Windows Device.

As always, having options when it comes to tech is key!

1 comment:

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