How to Delete System Error Memory Dump Files

Get your disk space back

When your computer crashes, and you encounter something like the blue screen of death (BSOD), the Windows operating system performs a memory dump to a location on the hard drive. Every now and then, delete these system error memory dump files to free up disk space.

What Is a System Error Memory Dump File?

If a BSOD error occurs, Windows dumps the RAM memory into a file on the hard drive. This means that if your system is using 8 GB of RAM at the time of the crash, the memory dump file will be 8 GB.

In other cases, Windows may make a kernel dump file, which only includes the memory allocated to the Windows kernel for things like drivers and active applications. This memory dump file is significantly smaller than a full system memory dump. This is the default size of a memory dump when you set up a system to conduct an automatic memory dump.

The Windows team or software developers analyze this file for troubleshooting purposes. To check the memory dump setting:

  1. Type sysdm.cpl into Windows search, then press Enter to open System Properties.

  2. Select the Advanced tab.

    The Advanced tab in System Properties
  3. In the Startup and Recovery section, select Settings.

    Startup and Recovery settings
  4. Select the Write debugging information drop-down arrow and choose Automatic memory dump so that each time the computer performs a memory dump, it only backs up the kernel and conserves hard drive space.

    The Automatic Memory Dump setting
  5. Select Overwrite any existing file so that the dump file doesn't continue to grow over time.

    The Overwrite any existing file option
  6. Select OK to save your changes.

    The OK button

How to Delete System Error Memory Dump Files Using Disk Cleanup

If the memory dump file has grown over time, delete the file to restore hard drive space. The easiest way to clean up dump files is to perform an elevated cleanup using the Windows disk cleanup utility.

If you don't perform the correct elevated cleanup while running the disk cleanup utility, the utility fails to delete the memory dump file.

  1. Select the Start button and type disk cleanup into the Windows search bar.

  2. Right-click Disk Cleanup and select Run as administrator.

    Running the Disk Cleanup utility as Administrator is what launches it in elevated mode and allows the utility to delete the memory dump file.

    The Run as Administrator command
  3. The utility scans the C: drive (or the drive that contains the operating system) and displays a window to select the files to delete. Select all options, or at least select System created Windows Error Reporting or System error memory dump files.

    The check box for Disk Cleanup options
  4. Select OK to have the utility complete the cleanup, and then reboot the system to finish.

    The System Cleanup utility doesn't always successfully remove the memory dump file—often because of file permissions or local policy settings on the system. If it doesn't work, move to the next method below.

    The OK button

Use Extended Disk Cleanup to Clear the System Error Memory Dump File

Another Windows utility that cleans up the system memory dump file is the Extended Disk Cleanup utility. Launch this utility from the command prompt.

  1. Select the Start Menu, type Command Prompt into the search bar, then right-click Command Prompt and select Run as Administrator.

    The Run as Administrator command
  2. Execute the command Cleanmgr /sageset:65535 & Cleanmgr /sagerun:65535.

    Running the Extended Disk Cleanup utility in Windows
  3. This command opens the Disk Cleanup utility with extra options for files to delete. Select all options to clean up, or at least select System error memory dump files and System error minidump files.

    Errors in Disk Cleanup
  4. Select OK to finish the cleanup procedure, then reboot the computer to complete the cleanup.

    Extended Disk Cleanup is usually successful at deleting the memory dump files because the additional options include both the memory dump files and the minidump files. Selecting these and running the utility should successfully remove all memory dump files from the system. Rebooting the computer completes the process.

    The OK button

Use Software to Remove the Memory Dump File

If you find it difficult to delete the system memory dump file using the Windows cleanup utilities, use alternative software solutions instead.

One of the most popular Windows cleanup utilities is CCleaner. Download the free version of CCleaner, which includes a feature to clean up memory dump files.

This should be a last resort since it requires the installation of new software. However, it's usually the most successful at removing memory dump files from a system, and also temporary files and other unnecessary data stored on the hard drive that consume excessive space. It's good to run a utility like this frequently to ensure hard drive space is never wasted.

  1. Download and install the free version of CCleaner.

  2. Select Custom Clean and make sure Memory Dumps is selected under the System section.

    The Memory Dumps option
  3. To make sure system memory dumps are cleaned, select Analyze. When the analysis is completed, you should see System - Memory Dumps in the list of files to be deleted.

    The Analyze button
  4. Select Run Cleaner to have CCleaner complete the cleanup routine. This removes all of the files that were listed in the analysis results.

    The Run Cleaner button

Remove MEMORY.DMP Manually

If you know where to find the memory.dmp file, you can delete it like any other file. The file isn't easy to find because it's buried among other files inside the System Root folder.

To find and delete the file:

  1. Note the path and file name in the Startup and Recovery window in the first section of this article. Typically this path is %SystemRoot%\MEMORY.DMP.

    memory.dmp path in Startup and Recovery
  2. To delete the file, launch the command prompt as an administrator. Select the Start Menu, type Command Prompt into the Windows search bar, then right-click Command Prompt and select Run as Administrator.

    The Run as Administrator command
  3. To change the path to the %SystemRoot% folder, type cd %systemroot%.

    Changing command prompt directory to the System Root
  4. If the system captured a memory dump at any point, there is a memory.dmp file in this folder. Type del memory.dmp to delete it.

Turn Off Write Debugging

If the memory.dmp file consistently takes up too much space on your system, re-open the System and Recovery window, and change the Write debugging information.

Use the drop-down menu to change the setting to (none) to ensure no memory dump files are created when the system crashes. It also means there is no way to analyze the cause of the crash, but the space on the hard drive is protected from excessive memory dumps.