How to free up space on your computer

Is your hard drive starting to look a little bit too full for your liking? Although computers nowadays tend to have terabytes-worth of storage, you’d be surprised how quickly it can get filled up.

The good news is that if you know what you’re doing you can empty it out just as fast – using a number of different means.

Uninstall Apps That You Don’t Use

One of the best ways to start freeing up space on your hard drive is to get rid of any apps (or games) that you don’t actually use. Odds are there’ll be quite a number of apps that you installed at some point or other but have rarely (if ever) actually used.

A good rule of thumb is: if you don’t recognize an app that is installed, you probably don’t use it.

In Windows it is relatively simple to uninstall apps via the Uninstall Programs feature. If you want you could even sort apps by the storage space they take up – or when they were last used.

Clear Temporary Files

Despite your best efforts your computer will undoubtedly accumulate unnecessary temporary files over time – and removing them will normally let you free up quite a bit of space. The temporary files can include:

  • Temporary internet files
  • Recycle bin contents
  • Error reports and logs
  • Thumbnails
  • Cache files created by apps

Manually removing all these files can be tedious, which is why the Disk Cleanup tool in Windows is a good place to start. On top of that however you should clear the temporary files in your browser manually – just to be thorough.

Another option on Windows 10 that could be useful is Storage Sense – which will automatically delete temporary files that aren’t required after a 30 day period. That way you don’t have to worry about them accumulating in the future.

Compress Video Files

Videos almost always tend to take up the most storage space, and in most cases they are probably the reason why your hard drive got so full, so quickly. If you are willing to delete some videos – great, but if not you can compress them instead.

Compressing videos will essentially allow you to reduce their file size so that they take up less space. In particular you can opt to either:

  • Convert the videos to a format with better compression such as HEVC (if possible) to reduce the file size without affecting the video quality.
  • Reduce the video bitrate to reduce the file size, but lower the video quality at the same time.

In either case you will need a video converter and you can use Movavi Video Converter if you don’t already have one. All you need to do is follow the steps at to compress your videos, and you could even convert your audio files, images, or edit your videos too.

Find and Delete Duplicate Files

Another very common reason why your hard drive may be full is if you have numerous duplicate files – be they videos, images, or other types of large files. Most duplicates are created accidentally by copying files between locations without deleting the original.

Unfortunately there is no easy way to find duplicate files or a built-in tool that you can use. However there are several third-party tools designed to scan your hard drive and locate duplicate files.

The amount of space that this option can free up will vary quite a bit, but it is worth taking nonetheless.

Use External Storage

If you’re handling lots of large files it can help to use external storage. Typically that encompasses USB drives, external hard drives, or cloud storage.

External hard drives have a higher capacity than USB drives and are a relatively cost-effective option. Cloud storage can be more expensive, but it has the added benefit of providing you with access to your files from any device with an internet connection.

If you do use cloud storage, be sure that it isn’t set to sync and copy over files to your hard drive – or you won’t actually free up any space.

The more of your large files you start to transfer over to external storage, the more storage space you’ll be able to free up on your internal hard drive.


Between all the steps listed above you should be able to free up quite a decent chunk of space on your hard drive relatively quickly. If you still find that the hard drive is full you may want to use tools to analyze the disk space and figure out exactly what is taking up space.

Keep in mind that as a final option you could always replace your hard drive with a new one that has a higher capacity – but that is generally a lot more work.

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