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Whether youre a newbie or a seasoned pro, heres your perfect guide to clean a hard drive on Windows with quick answers to the top 15 frequently asked questions.
Things starts getting out of control when your computer gets filled to the brim with useless files, app cache data, temp files, and other types of files that could be taking up extraneous space. A low on disk space computer can be quite annoying and can have issues like slow performance, constant freezing, errors installing programs, and system crashes. You might be completely unaware of the exact reason for poor Windows performance until Windows itself notifies you about it.
Windows requires timely cleanups to free up disk space and improve the disk performance of your computers hard drive. You might also need to deep clean your hard drive before selling your PC or giving it to someone else. Microsoft offers a plethora of viable tools and options to clean hard drives for free on Windows. Next in the article, well take an in-depth look at the best way to clean your hard drive on Windows 7, 8, and 10 PCs.
Step 1: Run Windows Disk Cleanup
When it comes to erasing junk files from a hard disk, the first and the unrivalled tool is the Windows Disk Cleanup tool. The key task of the Microsoft disk clean up utility is to identify and purge the random junk files stored under different locations on your computer. Heres how to clean hard drive space using the Windows disk cleanup utility.
Step 2: Hunt and Remove Unused Apps
Unused or unnecessary Windows programs can clutter up your valuable disk space hurting the overall Windows performance. Uninstalling a program is super easy, and you can instantly free up tons of disk space by deleting the apps you no longer use. Follow along to figure out how to free up disk space by removing unused apps.
Step 3: Get Rid of Gigantic Files
With continuous improvement in data quality, the size of the files is sometimes so huge that the drive space gets full far sooner than you expected. Large files can quickly eat up your drive space, and it can be a headache to search for them without the right tool or technique. Heres a neat trick to get rid of large files that are taking up the most space on your PC.
Use Windows Search with Advanced Filters
(Size:)and(Size: >)are the two search filters that can quickly access the files of desired file size. This is how it works to clean up a slow running computer:
Step 4: Find and Delete Duplicate Files
Over time, duplicate files can built to an extent where they starts taking a significant amount of precious disk space. This could result from copying the same files to different folders or having multiple backups of the same type. Thus, it becomes of utmost importance to eliminate redundant files to clean your hard drive thoroughly. While manually searching for duplicate files can be a lot, theres a much easier way to accomplish the same task by using tools built explicitly for the purpose.
Run Auslogics Duplicate File Finder
There are many third-party tools available to find and eliminate duplicate files and you can do your own research to find one that best suits your needs.
Step 5: Clean up Hidden Junk Files
No doubt, Windows Disk Cleanup is a prominent tool to free up disk space, but it is only limited to Windows components and cannot deal with unwanted junk files created by third-party applications on Windows. To identify and delete temporary and junk files created by various apps on Windows, you will need to use third-party clean up tools. There are several cleanup tools available, andCCleaneris probably the best free option out there. Lets show you how to clean junk files using CCleaner.
Till now, we have learned how to clean a hard drive on Windows using different tools and techniques. But, what if the results are not satisfactory? While deep cleaning Windows does help free up hard disk space, it does not always guarantee a feasible solution. Low-end computer systems or the ones having SSD (Solid State Drive) often have low storage capacity, and you probably need to look for other smart ways to free up a noticeable amount of hard disk space. Below given are some simple ways to free up gigabytes of disk space on your computer.
Step 6: Reduce Disk Space Used by System Restore
System Restoreis a Windows feature that helps you restore Windows to an earlier point in time when it was free of any issues. By default, system restore uses 15 percent of total disk space, which is a complete waste of your systems storage space. Adjusting the space used by system restore, you can free up a considerable amount of disk space. Heres how to take the next step.
Step 7: Use NTFS Compression to Save Disk Space
Windows comes with an in-built feature to compress files, folders and drives on computers with the NTFS file system. NTFS compression works the same way as other compression tools, except it automatically decompress the file when you access it and compress it back when you close it. If you are running short on storage space, NTFS file compression can do wonders. However, the feature does consume system resources making it a bit slower. If your computer configuration is not powerful enough to deal with all the action in real-time, then you must consider other methods to free up disk space on your PC.
Compress Individual Files and Folders
NTFS compression is best-suited to compress certain types of files than others, and it may not be effective to compress file formats that are already compressed like program installers, zipped files, and PNG images. However, it is extremely helpful to compress document files like text, word, and excel and the ones that you hardly access.
Compress an Entire Drive
When planning to compress an entire drive, the first and foremost thing to consider is the performance of your system, as NTFS compression can slow things down. If you have a computer with low specification, you must avoid compressing drives and look for other ways to free up disk space that wont affect the performance. Also, you must never compress the C drive or the one where the operating system files are stored, as this could prove disastrous for your PC. However, if you have a latest PC with decent configuration, you can follow the instructions below to compress an entire drive.
Step 8: Disable Hibernation Mode
Hibernation is a power-saving mode that enables Windows to save its current state in the physical memory and resumes the PC where you left off. Windows saves hibernation data in the hiberfil.sys file, which is saved on the hard drive. On Windows 10, Hiberfil.sys file can take anywhere from 40 percent to 100 percent of the physical memory. When the hibernation mode is activated, the data stored on the physical memory (RAM) is then compressed and saved on the computers hard disk.
Hiberfil.sys file can range from a few megabytes to several GBs and can eat up a lot of space on your hard drive. You can definitely delete the hibernation file to reclaim valuable disk space and the only drawback is that you wont be able to use hibernation mode on Windows. Heres how its done.
These simple steps will disable the hibernation mode and delete the hibernation file from the file directory.NOTE:If you later plan to enable hibernation mode, you can runpowercfg -h on command using command prompt.
Step 9: Migrating Data to the Cloud
Another great way to deal with low disk space is to move your data to the cloud. Cloud storage is simply a service that allows you to store your digital content on the internet, where you can get almost unlimited storage space. Keeping your data over cloud storage gives you complete freedom and flexibility to access your data on the go. There are several cloud hosting services you can explore as per your needs and financial convenience. Here is a list of the top free cloud storage services you can choose from.
Degoo Offers 100 GB of free cloud storage
Mega Offers 20 GB of free cloud storage
Google Drive Offers 15GB of free cloud storage
pCloud Offers 10 GB of free cloud storage that can be extended to 20 GB.
Dropbox Offers 2 GB of free cloud storage
Step 10: Transfer Data to External Storage Device
You can also consider moving your data to an external hard drive if you have no room to reclaim disk space on your internal storage. External storage devices such as USB storage or an external hard disk are handy to use and allows you to move your data from one device to another. Some of the top reasons to consider an external storage device to clean the hard drive on Windows are:
Top Questions about Cleaning Windows Hard Drive
How to Free up Space on C Drive?
Uninstalling unnecessary apps, removing junk files, and getting rid of data saved on the desktop and downloads folder is the quickest way to free up disk space on C drive.
Does Installing Windows 10 Completely Wipe Hard Drive?
Until you intentionally delete the partitions, you will not lose any data while installing Windows 10. However, it will wipe apps, drivers and data from the C drive, so it is suggested to backup your data before installing a new operating system.
How to Clean External Hard Drive?
To clean an external hard drive, simply plug it into the computer and delete the files you no longer require. If you want to erase all data from the hard drive completely, right-click it and selectFormatfrom the list of options.
How can I Permanently Delete Data from Hard Drive?
To permanently delete data from the hard disk, you can use theWindows Disk Managementutility. Simply run the application and right-click the partition that you want to wipe. Now select theDelete VolumeorFormatoption to get the task done.
Is it Safe to Free up Space with Ccleaner?
Ccleaner only removes the unnecessary files that are no longer in use by the operating system. These files include temporary internet files like cache and cookies, residual files left after uninstalling apps, and unwanted registry files making CCleaner entirely safe to free up disk space on your PC.
How do I Run Disk Cleanup from Command Prompt?
To run Windows Disk Cleanup using command prompt follow the instructions given below:
How do I Find out whats taking up space on my Internal Storage?
If you are a Windows 10 user, it is quite convenient for you to check what exactly is eating up the precious disk space. All you need to do is go toSettings>System>Storageand select the drive you want to analyze. You can further choose the sub-categories to figure out the programs, files, and documents taking up most of the storage on your computer. For any other version of Windows, you will need an external tool likeWinDirStatto see whats taking up space on your hard drive.
Does Wiping Free Space Make Windows Faster?
When the computers RAM becomes full, it requires free space on the hard drive to tackle the overflow tasks. Therefore, until your hard drive is completely full, wiping up free space does not help you improve the performance of your computer.
What is the difference between a Quick Format and a Full Format?
Quick format is simply deleting the files from the drive and takes much less time than full format. When you run a full format, the system will check the drive for bad sectors and repair them if required. You can consider quick format if you plan to keep the drive and full format if giving it to someone else as it becomes much more complex to recover the files from a fully formatted drive.
Is it Safe to Clean up System Files?
Cleaning up system files suggested by the Windows Disk Cleanup utility is entirely safe. However, you must never delete system files directly from the Windows folder as it can lead to instability of the operating system and can also completely damage it.
Where to Find Disk Cleanup in Windows 10?
Here are three different ways to access Disk Cleanup Utility in Windows 10:
Method 1: PressWindows+R> TypeCleanmgr> PressEnter.
Method 2: SearchCMDfrom Windows Search > OpenCommand Prompt> TypeCleanmgr> PressEnter.
Method 3: OpenControl Panel> SearchDisk Cleanupfrom the search bar > SelectFree up disk space by deleting unnecessary filesoption.
How can I Clean my Computer for Free?
Windows offers several built-in tools and features to clean the hard drive on the computer, and there is no need for paid tools. As discussed above, you can use Windows Disk Cleanup Utility, uninstall useless apps, and get rid of gigantic and duplicate files to clean your computer for free.
How Long does it take to Clean the Hard Drive Fully?
The time to fully clean a hard drive on Windows can vary from minutes to hours, and the duration depends on various factors, including the capacity of the hard disk, amount of disk space used, type of hard drive, the file system of the drive, configuration of the system, and the method used. In general, completely cleaning a 1 TB hard drive can take up to 24 hours or more.
Is Windows Disk Cleanup Safe to use?
In general, it is safe to delete everything that Windows Disk Cleanup identifies as junk. However, it also suggests files that may be required when you plan to reset your PC or roll it back to a previous version. To avoid facing issues in the above two scenarios, you must not delete Windows ESD installation system files and Windows Update Cleanup files.
The key rule to keep your computer perform like new is to have at least 15-20 percent free disk space. On the flip side, it is also not unusual to bump up against the capacity of your hard drive or to have too little free space available. To get your computer back to its peak performance, this guide reveals various reliable methods to free up a humongous amount of disk space in a very short time. If you cant follow the instructions given to clean a hard drive on Windows or the guide, dont answer what youre looking for, feel free to get in touch with one of ourTech Team Experts, and well help you resolve your issues in no time so you can move on.