Like any Windows, Windows 11 offers quite a few different ways to fill up your hard drive with data. But practically, you can not only analyze the occupied storage space with on-board tools, but also release it again immediately. We'll show you how to find memory guzzlers on a crowded Windows 11 PC and free up valuable hard drive space.
This is how you find out how full the hard drives are
Do you have several hard drives in the system or have you divided your hard drive into several partitions? If so, check which drive is taking up the most space. Don't let the occupancy percentage fool you; instead looks at the used storage capacity in GB. How can you find out which drives are overloaded?
Open Windows Explorer and click This PC. By the way, you can use Explorer too start directly in this view. In the area Devices and drives you can see the internal and external hard drives on your PC. Partitions that you have created on your hard drive, you now identify the ones that contain the most data.
This is how you identify the biggest space hogs on your hard drive
Depending on the type of applications and games you have installed on your PC, the programs take up different amounts of hard drive space. Windows 11 offers just like already his predecessor an easy way to find out what kind of data is taking up the most space on your drive. This will make it easier for you to decide in the end whether you want to and can release the space.
This is how you do it:
- Right-click the Windows Start button and then click Settings.
- Switches to the area in the system settings of Windows 11 System.
- Here you click on the point in the right window area storage.
- In this section you can see what type of data is taking up the most space on your currently overcrowded and other drives.
- Click on Show more categoriesto see more categories taking up space on your hard drives.
- You can also click on the individual categories. Depending on the entry, Windows 11 will now show you a few options on how to deal with the space wasters. But more on that later.
Now you have a good idea of where the missing storage space is going on your Windows 11 PC. Ideally, start by freeing up space from the category that's taking up the most space on your hard drive.
How to free up disk space on Windows
So now you know where the storage went - but how do you get it back? There are different strategies for this. Typically, three types of data take up most of your storage space: apps and features, system and cache files, and temporary files. Therefore, reducing these types of data can effectively free up your storage space. Let's see how you can do that.
Uninstall unused apps and Windows features
A first step towards a tidy Windows PC should always be to uninstall programs that are no longer used. In Windows 11 you do this as follows:
- Opens the Windows settings and navigates to the point System - Storage.
- Choose the drive you want to clean up.
- Click in the memory allocation Apps and Features.
- Click on sort by and choose Sizeto see the biggest program chunks above.
- Now check whether you still need the programs or not. If this is not the case, click on the three dots and choose Uninstall.
Repeat the above step for any programs you feel are too large and you should be able to free up a decent amount of disk space.
By the way: You can also uninstall some program components from Windows 11 that are not on the list. But you need a third-party tool for this. We will show you a well-functioning and free solution for this in this tutorial. Ajo: Windows 11 can also automatically delete unused programs. Logically, this is not always wanted. How to turn off the behavior you will learn here.
Delete temporary files with Windows 11 on-board tools
Temporary files often take up most of the space on your drives. Thankfully, you no longer have to half-baked third-party tools resort to delete temporary files. Windows 11 offers practical tools for this purpose. This is how you use them:
- Opens the menu as described above System - Storage.
- Click here Temporary data.
- Windows 11 now creates a list of categories of temporary files. You will receive an overview of each entry and information about what it is all about.
- Now select the files you want to delete and start the process with a click Remove files.
By removing temporary files, you can already provide significantly more free storage space on your Windows 11 PC. The Windows update cleanup in particular can ideally free up a gigabyte or two of storage space.
However, make sure that you do not accidentally delete important files here. Only empties the Windows recycle bin if you are sure that you have not accidentally deleted any files.
You should only delete update error reports if you have not had any problems with Windows Update. Ideally, the logs can help you troubleshoot the issue.
Clean up Windows 11 with cleanup recommendations
In addition to searching for temporary files, Windows 11 offers another practical help for freeing up valuable storage space: the cleaning recommendations in the system settings.
You can find them just like the other on-board resources presented in the system settings storage. Click here in the section memory management on the menu item Cleanup Recommendations. Windows 11 now analyzes the available storage space on your PC and checks whether and how you can free up memory quickly.
In addition to temporary files, the system also searches for particularly large files or files that you have not used for a long time. You can select these in the corresponding menu list and delete them if necessary or move them to an external data medium.
Go through the suggestions in the various categories systematically and check what you can do without. With a click of the button Clean up you carry out the necessary clean-up steps. Here you can also see at a glance how much hard drive space you can regain with the appropriate steps.
Windows 11: Free up disk space automatically with Storage Sense
Deleting programs and temporary files will help you save storage space on your Windows PC. But of course it is annoying to have to manually initiate the process every time. But that's not even necessary: Windows 11 comes with a useful tool called memory optimization (in the original Storage Sense called) that helps you to automatically optimize the storage space on your hard drive and delete unnecessary files.
How does memory optimization work in Windows 11?
The memory optimization continuously monitors the storage space occupancy on your PC. Once activated, the tool automatically deletes temporary files on the hard drive and contents from the recycle bin. So it's about operating your PC optimally.
This is how you activate memory optimization in Windows 11:
To activate memory optimization in Windows 11, you navigate to the area in the settings storage. Here you simply activate the switch at memory optimization. If you do that, you should first check the settings of the system tool.
This is how you configure the memory optimization of Windows 11
To configure Storage Sense, click the Storage Sense button. Here you can find under Automatic cleaning of user content a number of options. For example, you can use the drop-down menu Run memory optimization determine whether the optimization should be started automatically at certain time intervals or only when the disk space is low.
The option is useful Delete files from the Recycle Bin that are older than…. For example, if you set this to 30 days, Windows 11 will only keep the deleted files in the recycle bin for 30 days. In contrast to manual emptying, this option does not permanently delete all files, only the old ones. This gives you enough time to revisit accidentally deleted files.
Files that you store on OneDrive or other cloud services also take up storage space on your PC. Storage Sense can help free up storage space by storing files you don't use often only in the cloud. You can find the appropriate options in the section On-premises cloud content.
Conclusion: More storage space in no time!
Insufficient disk space on your PC can be really annoying. But don't worry, you now have the tools you need to find out which apps and files are eating up your storage space - and how to get rid of them.
If you are not completely happy with the on-board resources of Windows 11, that is also not a problem. Especially in the field of open source software, there are a number of tools that make cleaning up your hard drive even easier.
An example of this is the excellent BleachBit, with which you can efficiently deal with temporary files. If you prefer to track down large files and directories visually rather than with ugly lists, WinDirStat has been the tool of choice for years. Show how you use the classic we you here. The program is so nice that you can even use it decorate walls can.