Top 10 ways to get more disk space

Do we really need to care about cleaning up the disk space when they cost like nothing to buy? For most people this might not be something to worry about, but for others using more expensive SSDs space is a key issue. This is especially true when using a Windows OS that eats space like never before. Here I’ll give you a few ways to save space on your disk. All the examples are made for Windows 7 but might work in other Window versions as well.

  1. Analyze your disk Do you know what’s eating your disk? There are several free programs out there that easily can analyze your disk and show you where you need to focus your efforts. One program I’ve tried myself is TreeSize from JAM. It does the job for you. Another program, more visual than TreeSize is WinDirStat that is also an open source project. This picture illustrates how much space the PageFile takes of the whole disk.
    Analyzing disk with WinDirStat
  2. Turn off hibernate Do you use hibernate mode on your computer? If not, then you can save a lot of space. This is how you do it:
    1. Open command prompt as administrator
    2. Run powercfg -h off to turn off hibernate. powercfg is a powerful tool and by running powercfg /? you can see all that it has to offer.
  3. Move the page file The default settings for your page file is to take as much disk space as you have RAM. But you can easily decrease it, spread it over several disks or even move it to another disk completely.
    1. Open the Advanced System Settings in the Control Panel (write Advanced in the search field of the Start menu and it should come up)
    2. Click the Settings button under Performance and open the Advanced tab
    3. Click the Change button
    4. Unclick the Automatically manage pageing… option and make your changes. Each drive is handled separately so you’ve got plenty of options. In the example shown here I’ve limited the page file size to 2Gb on the main disk and let the system decide on my big secondary drive.
      Change PageFile settings
    5. A reboot is required before changes are activated.

  4. Move the Windows Installer folder On my computer the installer folder had a decent size of 11 GB…and counting. Moving it to another drive saved a lot of valuable space on my SDD. This is how you do it:

    1. Make sure you can see hidden system folders in the explorer window because otherwise you might not move everything in the installer folder.
      1. Open File Explorer
      2. Press Alt key and the top menu appears. Click Tools and Folder options
      3. Make sure Show hidden files, folders, and drives is marked and that Hide protected operating system files is unmarked.
    2. Move the whole content of the folder over to another disk.
    3. Open command prompt as administrator
    4. Go to the Windows folder cd c:\Windows and create a link to the new folder mklink /d Installer d:\NewInstaller.

    Note! These files are important for Windows since they are used to repair broken programs. They should therefore not be put on an external USB disk or similar!

  5. Use the Window’s cleaning Windows has it’s own little cleaning program that empties different caches. This is how you use it:
    1. Type Disk in the search field on the Start menu and Disk Cleanup will shop up in the list.
    2. Select your drive and the program will search through a given number of places on your computer where Windows knows temporary files are saved.
    3. In the window opening up a list of possible places to clean up will be shown, as in this example.
      Built in disk cleanup in Windows
      Not all items in the list are selected by default so make sure you go through it before clicking Ok.

  6. Clean out Windows service pack backup files There are two ways of cleaning out the service pack files. However, make sure you don’t delete them too early after a service pack upgrade because without these files Windows can’t rollback to an earlier state.
    1. With the Disk Cleanup tool, previously described, you can also delete backup files from when upgrading a service pack level in Windows. Click on the Clean up system files button and the program will make a new search of your disk, maybe with a UAC elevation request. In the list of locations to clean you can now find options like Service pack backup files.
    2. You can also delete Windows service pack backup files by running the command dism /online /cleanup-image /spsuperseded /hidesp as administrator.

    A note on the WinSXS folder This folder is the usually growing to become one of the largest folders on your disk and sadly enough there’s nothing you can do about it because Windows needs it. It’s a system folder where duplicates of files are kept so the system can repair itself when other files becomes corrupt. The more programs you install on your computer the more this folder is going to grow in size. Mine has passed 10 GB a long time ago. If you haven’t cleaned out your Windows service pack files, as described in the previous example, then you can save a GB or something from this folder by doing that. But besides that, there isn’t much more you can do. If anyone has any recommendations here you’re welcome to write a comment.

  7. Remove unused programs We all have them – programs we’ve downloaded, installed but never use. They can take quite some space on your disk.
    1. Type Uninstall in the search field on the Start menu and Uninstall a program will shop up in the list.
    2. Select a program in the list and click on Uninstall

  8. Find duplicates Duplicates, especially big ones, take up unnecessary space on your disk. There are several great program for searching duplicates. My current favourite is the free program Duplicate Cleaner. The picture below show an example of when it’s running. You can compare files in many different ways: by name, size and content (MD5). You can also set criterias for what files to go through (I usually only search for files larger than 1 MB).
    Duplicate Cleaner
    Another program to try is Duplicate Commander
  9. Search for big old files Chances are that those big old files are movies or installation files you downloaded a long time ago and put them somewhere safe so you wouldn’t forget them. Open Windows Explorer and use the advanced search to specify large files that were modified more than a year ago. You might be amazed with what you’ll find there.
  10. Downloaded files For an active Internet user, the amount of files ending up in your Downloads folder can be quite great. Make sure you clean it out once in a while.