In this section I will show you how to cleanup your hard drive using the Disk Cleanup utility supplied with Windows 10 in order to make more space available on that hard drive. The first example will show you the general cleanup that can claim back MegaBytes, if not GigaBytes, of hard drive space and the second example will show you the advanced cleanup that removes the System Restore files but can claim back GigaBytes of hard drive space.
The first thing you need to do, for both examples, is open the THIS PC folder (window) by double clicking on the THIS PC desktop icon. When it is open right click on the hard drive partition you want cleaning, if you have more than one partition of course, to bring up its context menu (Options menu) and then select (left click on) the PROPERTIES menu-item to continue.
In this example I have right clicked on the OS (C:) hard drive partition, because it has the Windows 10 operating system installed on it, but I could of right clicked on the Data (D:) hard drive partition instead. The reason I did not is because not all of the cleanup options would of been available, because Data (D:) is not the hard drive partition with Windows 10 installed on it. OS (C:) is and therefore is the hard drive partition that can be cleaned of Temporary Internet Files, Downloaded Program Files and so on.
Fig 1.0 - Right click over the OS (C:) hard drive icon and select (left click on) the PROPERTIES menu-item
Clicking on the PROPERTIES menu-item opens the OS (C:) Properties window (or whatever the name of your hard drive partition is), displaying general information about that hard drive partition on its GENERAL Tab. Information such as the amount of space used by Windows 10, Third-Party Software and your own Folders and Files (Used Space), how much space is remaining (Free Space) and the Capacity of the hard drive partition. Take a note of these because you will see how much space has been claimed back by the Disk Cleanup utility.
When you are ready click on the DISK CLEANUP button to bring up the message requester (Fig 1.2 below) that calculates how much hard drive space can be claimed back by deleting unnecessary system files (Downloaded Program Files, Temporary Internet Files, Set Up Logs, Etc) and so on.
Fig 1.1 - Click on the DISK CLEANUP button to continue
Fig 1.2 - Calculating how much hard drive space can be claimed back
When the calculating has finished the results are displayed at the top of the Disk Cleanup window (below). In this example I can free up 405 MB of hard drive space, even though the ticked items only free up 400 MB. Therefore I need to tick all the options in order to free up the whole 405 MB (Fig 1.4). Once this is done the next thing to do is click on the CLEAN UP SYSTEM FILES button (Fig 1.4).
Fig 1.3 - 405 MegaBytes of unnecessary/unneeded files can be deleted
Fig 1.4 - Tick all the check (tick) boxes and then click on the CLEAN UP SYSTEM FILES button
You do not need to know what all the files in the above list do. You just have the knowledge and faith that the Disk Cleanup utility is not in the habit of deleting the wrong files. As said, a lot of the files are log files, recycle bin files and temporary files only and therefore unnecessary/unneeded.
After clicking on the CLEAN UP SYSTEM FILES button (above), and because other options were ticked, another calculation of hard drive space is required (below) before you can then click on the OK button to continue (Fig 1.6).
Fig 1.5 - Recalculating how much hard drive space can be claimed back
Fig 1.6 - Click on the OK button to continue
When the recalculation of hard drive space returns I now have 628 MB that can be cleaned up whereas before it was 405 MB (Every MB counts!). So again, tick any unticked check (tick) boxes and then click on the OK button. Doing so will bring up the following message requester that asks "Are You Sure You Want To Permanently Delete These Files?" before the cleanup process begins (Fig 1.8). This gives you the chance to cancel and to change/redo your tick selection. If you are sure you want to continue with the current disk cleanup, without changes, simply click on the DELETE FILES button to start the cleanup process.
Fig 1.7 - Click on the DELETE FILES button to continue
Fig 1.8 - Disk Cleanup is now performing the delete (cleanup) process
When the disk cleanup process has finished click on the OK button of the Properties window to close it (not shown here) and then reopen the Properties window again (as in Fig 1.1 above) to see the new Used Space and Free Space amounts. They will have changed to reflect the amount of hard drive (disk) space claimed back by the disk cleanup process. An example is given at the end of the Advanced Disk Cleanup sub-section, below.
This next example leaves off from above. Starting afresh; After clicking on the DISK CLEANUP button again, with the disk cleanup utility recalculating the hard drive space again, this time around the disk cleanup utility knows what it has cleaned up before and therefor gives itself less work to do this time around. Hence why there are fewer tick options available now.
Fig 2.0 - Click on the CLEAN UP SYSTEM FILES button to continue
After clicking on the CLEAN UP SYSTEM FILES button another recalculation is performed (below) before the disk cleanup utility allows you to click on the MORE OPTIONS Tab (window), so that you can then have it delete the previous System Restore Points.
Fig 2.1 - Recalculating how much hard drive space can be claimed back
Fig 2.2 - Click on the MORE OPTIONS Tab (window) to continue
The MORE OPTIONS Tab (window) allows you to remove certain Windows 10 programs in order to free up even more hard drive space (not explained/exampled here) and it also allows you to remove previous System Restore Points (see the paragraph below). To remove your previous System Restore Points click on the bottom CLEAN UP button to continue.
System Restore Points are backup files created by Windows 10 prior to you installing some software for example, so that if a software installation goes wrong and/or corrupts your computer for example you can use the System Restore tool to take the computer back to the point before the software installation. Back to a point where your computer was working fine. This is only possible for the System Restore tool to do if Windows 10 has been saving System Restore points (system backup files). See the System Restore section for more information.
Fig 2.3 - Click on the bottom CLEAN UP NOW button to continue
Fig 2.4 - Are you sure you want to delete the previous System Restore Points?
Clicking on the bottom CLEAN UP button (Fig 2.3 above) brings up the above message requester that is asking "Are You Sure You Want To Delete All But The Most Recent Restore Points?". If you are sure click on its DELETE button to continue, otherwise click on its CANCEL button to abort the delete operation. If you continue you will be asked if you want to delete standard files again (as in the first example - Figures 1.7 and 1.8) when you click on the OK button of the Disk Cleanup window, so just answer with DELETE FILES and then click on the relevant OK buttons to close the windows.
Note: There will be a slight delay, while the System Restore Points (files) are being deleted, before the OK button on the MORE OPTIONS Tab becomes clickable. So be patient. When the OK button does become clickable click on it to continue.
Think before clicking on the DELETE button. If anything goes wrong with your computer in the future you might now be deleting any hope of restoring your computer to a previous, working, state in the future.
Fig 2.5 - The Properties window opened again to reveal the hard drive space saved
When the disk cleanup process has completely finished click on the OK button of the Properties window to close it. After that reopen it and look at the Used Space and Free Space amounts. They will have changed to reflect the amount of hard drive space claimed back by the disk cleanup process.
Fig 2.5 above shows how much space can be deleted over a short period of time. The above disk cleanups for example claimed back 8.8 GigaBytes of Used Space. 46.8 GB of Used Space (Fig 1.1 above) down to 38 GB of Used Space (above). The second disk cleanup was the important one because it got rid of the bulk of System Restore Points, which are massive. Any system restore point disk cleanups thereafter will get rid of previously classed "Current" system restore points. The first disk cleanup did not really do much, but is still worth doing once a month for example. Windows 10 usually holds on to the current system restore point for about a day before it can be deleted as above. Deleting the system restore points is for Advanced Users only, hence why I split this section and made Advanced Disk Cleanup.