How to Use Free Up Space, an Alternative to Disk Cleanup in Windows 10

Perform system cleanups with the Free Up Space tool

The Microsoft Windows 10 Free Up Space tool

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Clean up the files on your Windows PC and free up storage space on your hard drive with the Free Up Space tool in Windows 10. The tool deletes temporary files, system log files, previous Windows update install files, and other files Windows doesn’t need.

Instructions in this article apply to Windows 10.

An Alternative to the Windows Cleanup Utility

In the April 2018 Windows Update, Microsoft deprecated the Disk Cleanup utility and replaced it with the Free Up Space tool. If your computer has the 1903 update of Windows 10, the Free Up Space tool is installed on your computer. Even though Disk Cleanup may be available on your computer, it's slowly being phased out.

To find out which version of Windows in on your computer, open Windows Settings, then select System > About.

The Free Up Space tool works like the Disk Cleanup utility. The Free Up Space tool searches a computer hard drive for files the operating system doesn’t need and presents a list of files that can be safely deleted. As with Disk Cleanup, you choose which files to delete and which to keep.

How the Free Up Space Tool Works

The Free Up Space tool scans a computer disk drive for unneeded files. After these files are deleted, it frees up space on the drive. When your PC is running low on storage space, this tool quickly creates the extra space you need.

When the Free Up Space tool scans your computer, it may find several types of files. It organizes these files types into these categories:

  • Windows upgrade log files: If the PC is having problems after an upgrade, don't delete the Windows upgrade log files. These files may contain important troubleshooting information.
  • System created Windows error reporting files: In most cases, it’s safe to delete these files. However, if the computer is having problems, you’ll need these files to uninstall updates and troubleshoot Windows problems.
  • Windows Defender Antivirus files: These are temporary files and deleting them doesn't affect the applications installed on the computer.
  • Windows Update Cleanup files: These files are left over after a Windows update. If the computer operates fine, delete these files. If the computer has problems, you’ll need these to reverse any Windows updates.
  • Thumbnails: Thumbnails are the small preview images for files and folders that appear in Windows File Explorer. These thumbnails are stored in a cache database so you can quickly preview a file. Deleting thumbnails frees up disk space, but they'll take time to download the next time you browse your files.
  • Temporary Windows installation files: These files contain older Windows installations. If you don’t need to roll Windows back to a previous version, it’s safe to delete these files.
  • Temporary files: Temporary files slow down the computer. Before you delete these files, close all apps. Apps create temporary files to process data while the app is open. These temporary files go away when the app is closed.
  • Recycle Bin: Before you delete the contents of the Recycle Bin, recover any needed files first.
  • OneDrive files: If you sync your OneDrive files to your PC, your files are stored in two places. Create additional disk storage space by deleting the files on your computer and keeping those files online only. 
  • Delivery Optimization files: Delivery Optimization files are updates your computer gets from other computers on your network. Windows 10 clears the Delivery Optimization cache automatically but may leave residual files. These files are safe to delete.

How to Clean Up Windows 10 With the Free Up Space Tool

The Free Up Space tool is part of the Windows Storage Sense feature. To find this tool, go to the Windows Settings.

  1. Select Start > Settings.

    The Windows Start menu and the Settings icon
  2. Select System.

    The Windows Settings
  3. Select Storage > Free up space now.

    Windows 10 Storage Sense with the Free up space now tool
  4. Wait while Windows scans the computer to find files that can be removed to free up disk space.

  5. In the Free up space now window, select the items to delete. Read the description of each item to find out the types of files that can be deleted.

  6. Select Remove Files.

    The Free Up Space tool
  7. Wait while Windows deletes the selected files.