How to Add a Few Gigabytes to Your Windows Drive’s Free Space

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Every long-time Windows user pokes around in the contents of his or her (but mostly his) Windows hard drive. There are so many sub-folders to check out… And so much wasted hard drive space to be freed up.

Today I want to show you two easy ways to free up a few gigabytes of your Windows drive’s space.

Forgotten Java Updates

Java, besides being terrible for your computer security, is also a space hog.

It doesn’t delete its updates, even though they are not in use anymore. In a few years time, this attitude adds up and hard drive space gets wasted.

To remove the useless files, go to the following folder:

Important Note

Of course, instead of UserName use your actual username’s folder.

Select the whole contents of the folder and delete everything. You won’t miss any of it.

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Remove Java updates

In my case, by removing these files, I gained 570 MB of extra free space. Not a bad start.

Windows Update and Log Files

But much more space is wasted in Windows’ sub-folders.

Here is a short list of the Windows sub-folders that were hogging the most space on my computer:

The winsxs folder especially stands out with more than 17.5 GB of used up space. That’s 27.5% of all used space on my C: drive in one sub-folder alone.

Sure, the winsxs folder contains important data. Whenever Windows Update installs a new update, the un-updated original files remain in this folder. The reason for this is that should you need to uninstall an update, you can fall back to the files in winsxs. The downside of this attitude is that the more up-to-date your Windows system is, the larger your winsxs folder will get.

Anyway, part of the data backed up here can be removed without any hazard to the integrity of your system.


To do so, go to Control Panel > System and Security and click on Free up disk space in the Administrative Tools section.

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Administrative Tools > Free up disk space

This action will launch the Disk Cleanup tool.

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Disk Cleanup

Let me warn you beforehand that this tool is not very user friendly.

For example, once you launch Disk Cleanup, it will not do a complete scan of your drive.

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Disk Cleanup basic scan

For a full scan, it needs administrative privileges.

But it doesn’t inform you so before the scan begins.

And, curiously, once you click on the Clean up system files button, it doesn’t inform you that you need to start scanning again.

For this reason, it is better to launch Disk Cleanup by right-clicking on its icon in Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools.

And then selecting Run as administrator from the drop-down menu.

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Run Disk Cleanup as administrator

This time Disk Cleanup will attempt to clean up service pack backup files as well as Windows Update files, too.

And the difference will be noticeable…

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Disk Cleanup full scan

4.76 GB ready to be removed instead of the previous estimate of only 13.3 MB.

After I clicked OK, the removal process took a while. But it was worth the wait.

The cleanup process will need to finish up once you shut down or restart your computer. Be patient, especially with the restart — finishing the cleanup takes a while.

Results

As a result of these efforts, the C:\Windows\winsxs folder shrunk by 3.85 GB and the C:\Windows\Panther folder (where the Windows upgrade log files were kept) was completely gone.

Together with the free space gained by deleting the old Java updates, I was able to raise 5.33 GB of free hard drive space (that’s 4.8% of my primary drive’s capacity) in a matter of minutes. Not bad.

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