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

Perform system cleanups with the Free Up Space tool

What to Know

  • Open Windows 10 Settings by pressing Win+I. Select System > Storage.
  • Turn on the slider for Storage Sense.
  • In the Free up space now window, select the items to delete. Choose Remove Files.

This article explains how to free up space on your Windows 10 computer using an alternative to Disk Cleanup. It includes information on the types of files the Free Up Space tool scans and considers safe to delete.

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

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.

In the April 2018 Windows Update, Microsoft deprecated the Disk Cleanup utility and replaced it with the Free Up Space tool, which searches a computer hard drive for files the operating system doesn’t need and presents a list of files that can be safely deleted. Here's how to use it.

  1. Open Windows 10 Settings by pressing Win+I. Select System.

    system settings
  2. Select Storage. Turn on the slider for Storage Sense.

    storage sense
  3. Wait while Windows scans the computer to find files that can be removed to free up disk space.

  4. 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.

  5. Select Remove Files.

    remove files
  6. Wait while Windows deletes the selected files.

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.

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

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