With more and more computer users migrating from hard disk drives (HDDs) to solid-state drives (SSDs), which offer better performance and new technological features, disk space is now an issue. SSDs deliver better performance and transfer data six times faster than HDDs, and they are also more reliable as they use flash memory, which means there are no physical components moving while they are in use. SSDs are less subject to wear or crashing, which are common issues among HDDs. However, SSDs do not come cheap: the bigger the storage space, the more expensive the SSD will be. This has led to most of the users acquiring SSDs with less storage.
As we all know, storage is bound to run out, especially when using your computer a lot, and then begins the hustle of freeing up space. So, if you want to free up some space on your current drive instead of splashing out a huge sum on a new SSD, then deleting some of the Windows files that you do not really need will actually save you. However, the catch is in knowing which files to delete so as not to affect the operations of your system.
In Windows, there are plenty of files and folders that you barely use and don’t need at all. That said, you should be careful about what to delete since Windows is actually full of items that you know nothing about but that are of supreme importance. Knowing which Windows files to delete can be a bit challenging, especially if you are an average user. In this article, we will go through Windows files and folders that are entirely safe to remove to increase your disk space. We will also highlight the reason why you should erase these files and folders. Keep in mind that you should be careful when deleting them as some of them are in protected locations.
Best Ways to Free Up Hard Drive Space on Windows 10
Prior to listing the Windows files and folders that you can safely delete from your computer, let’s first address the best way to free up space on Windows 10. Deleting files manually is not always the best option since, apart from being time-consuming, it might damage your system. Using the Disk Cleanup tool is the best way to go about the task. With the Disk Cleanup tool, you avoid deleting vital files and messing up your system. Moreover, the Disk Cleanup tool is easy to use and helps you regain that much-needed space automatically without needing much of your intervention. The good thing about this tool is that it is rooted in the Windows operating system, which means there is no need to go through the installation process.
To access the Disk Cleanup tool, you need to open the Start Menu and search for it using the following phrase: Disk Cleanup. Open the app and allow it to scan through your system files. It will then bring up categories of files that you can erase to free up some space. In order to scan through the Windows files, select Clean up system files, which will give you administrator permissions.
Alternatively, you can try a newer version of the storage cleanup tool by browsing through Settings > System > Storage and then selecting Free up space now.
Folders to Delete to Free Up Disk Space
When using the Disk Cleanup tool to get rid of the Windows files and folders you do not need, make sure to pay attention to the following options (in order to see them, you need to select Clean up system files):
- Windows Update Cleanup: This method will erase old Windows Update files. These files are safe to delete. However, you should delete these files at a later stage as they can be useful for fixing things if you run into any issues with your updates. The files can be used to roll back your Windows version, as well as for troubleshooting purposes.
- Windows upgrade log files: These files are kept by Windows for troubleshooting purposes as well. The files are safe to erase as long as you haven’t come across any issues with your updates.
- Language resource files: If you have language packs or keyboard layouts that you no longer need, then deleting these files is perfectly safe and will create space for other data.
- Recycle Bin: When you delete your files and they move to the Recycle Bin, it doesn’t mean you have freed up space on your drive. Files that are moved to your Recycle Bin simply change their location on the same drive. Therefore, they still exist on your computer and hog the very same amount of space on your drive. Deleting them from the Recycle Bin will permanently remove them, freeing up space within the drive.
- Temporary Files: as the name indicates, these files are not used for long periods of time. However, even after they have served their short-term purpose, they will remain on the computer, occupying much-needed space. Thus, you can delete them with no worries and obtain that space you need.
1. Hibernation File
File location: C:\hiberfil.sys
Hibernation mode shuts down your system after saving all of the open files to the storage drive. With hibernation mode, you can cut off the power supply to your computer for a week and, when you switch it on, be able to start off from where you were. However, this mode takes up some space on the storage drive by creating its own location called the hibernation file in order to save the open files. Depending on the size of your storage drive, the hibernation file can consume from several gigabytes of storage to quite an amount of space. If this is the first time you are hearing about this mode and you don’t use it, then you definitely don’t need it. You can deactivate it through the Command Prompt. However, deleting the hibernation file the common way will not help as Windows will simply create another one. To properly delete the hibernation file, access the Power User menu and then open Command Prompt in admin mode and then type the following command into the window:
powercfg.exe /hibernate off
Now that you have disabled hibernation mode, Windows should be able to do you a favour by deleting the hiberfil.sys file on its own when you complete deactivating the mode. If for some reason the file has not been deleted after deactivating the mode, then you can go ahead and delete the file by yourself, and Windows will not be able to create the file again. However, there are several disadvantages to deactivating hibernation, and among those is the inability to use fast startup on Windows 10. Although this may seem to be a loss, it actually isn’t as this feature has been reported to trigger boot issues.
2. Windows Temp Files
Folder Location: C:\Windows\Temp
These files are of no use beyond their initial purpose, hence the name ‘temporary.’ These are files and folders that contain information that was once used by the Windows system but is no longer needed. For instance, if you are to install an app, a temporary file is created for that app in order for it to be installed. After the installation has been completed successfully, that file is no longer of use but remains in the system. As a result, temporary files pile up and eat into your disk space. Obviously, deleting them will benefit your system a lot. Apart from getting rid of the temp files through Disk Cleanup, you can delete them by visiting the Temp folder directly and deleting the contents of it.
3. Recycle Bin
Everyone is familiar with the Recycle Bin as Windows has got its icon visible from the desktop. Every time you delete a file from Windows, it is sent to the Recycle Bin, which is not a usual folder but a place within your drive where the deleted files are kept before being permanently erased or restored. So, if you do not empty your Recycle Bin, there could be a large amount of data stored there, which will be taking up a lot of space on your drive.
You can delete files from the Recycle Bin using the shortcut on the desktop. If for some reason you deleted the shortcut or it is not visible from your desktop, then you can access the bin by typing shell: RecycleBinFolder in File Explorer. You will then be able to see everything that you have previously deleted. Click on one item and then simultaneously press Ctrl and A to select everything within the folder. Once you have done so, press Shift + Delete to permanently erase the files. Note that if you wish to restore some of the files within the Recycle Bin, you can choose Restore and send them back to the location they were in before being deleted. Alternatively, on the ribbon above, you will see the following buttons: Empty Recycle Bin and Restore all items. You can use the first button to permanently delete everything from your Recycle Bin in one click, while the second option will restore all the files back to their previous locations. Moreover, you can alter the way the Recycle Bin operates by changing some of the settings. On the top ribbon, you can indicate the amount of storage that the Recycle Bin can hold.
4. Rempl Folder
Folder Location: C:\Program Files\rempl
The Rempl folder isn’t that large, but the amount of data that it can hold can be worth getting rid of. Just like a cash-strapped individual who will tell you every cent counts, one scrambling for storage space also believes in frugality. The Rempl folder contains a number of small files, and a number of related processes can be noticed on the Task Manager. The folder is linked to how Windows 10 updates are delivered, and its files make the process of updating your OS and its components more reliable. So, is it safe to delete this folder? Yes, absolutely, as there are no reported adverse impacts from doing so.
Folder Location: C:\Windows\LiveKernelReports
This is a directory where you can find quite a number of large files. The folder stores dump files that serve as continuous data logs kept by the computer. If the system starts misbehaving, you can start by sorting through these files to find the cause of the problem.
Any of the files that have the DMP extension can be safely deleted. However, Disk Cleanup is the best tool to use when erasing such kind of sensitive data as it helps to avoid messing up your system.
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