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How to clean your hard disk and free space in Windows 10

Has your hard drive been feeling a bit busy lately? If you have more free space on your hard drive, the speed can be improved. Deleting files and moving data to other devices can help you quickly clean up your hard drive in Windows 10. Here are the easiest ways to free up PC space quickly.

Empty the trash

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Ah, the beloved old trash. It's nice to know that some things about Windows haven't changed in a long time. Windows 10 still uses the Recycle Bin to hide all the files you want to throw out and emptying it can be helpful to free up extra space.

You can right-click on the Trash icon to empty it directly. If you cannot find the icon, go to the Start menu, go to Settings select System and then go to Storage . You can select local storage under This PC – search for and click Temporary files . Doing so will display all temporary file locations, including the Recycle Bin . Check the box next to Trash select the option Delete files at the top of the screen and confirm your decision. That's all it takes!

It should be noted that emptying your Recycle Bin will only help to clean your Windows 10 hard drive if there is a lot of stuff in that bin. When you first download Windows 10 – and long after that, depending on your desktop habits – emptying won't affect your hard drive in any way. If you're not sure, take a look at your trash can and see how full it is first. A few GB of data can still make a difference.

Delete Temporary Files and Downloads

Remember how emptying the Recycle Bin led you through the Temporary Files section? If you want to expand your hard drive cleaning activities, you can delete all temporary files.

What exactly are you removing here? Well, Windows temporary files manage document editing, some application processes, various print jobs, etc.

These files are usually deleted automatically, but sometimes they hang. Delete them all by checking the box next to each file type, then click the Delete Files option at the top of the screen.

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Another time files are created automatically occurs when you download something from the Internet. These files appear in your downloads and often hang – meaning they can pile up quickly if you download a lot of content to your Windows 10 desktop.

Go to your Downloads folder via Explorer> This PC> Downloads and delete any files you no longer need by marking them in groups or individually. This method is a great way to manually free up space without accidentally deleting anything you need later.

Removing apps

Too many apps can cause a delay or lack of space for other content, especially on some of the smaller, lighter Windows devices (looking at you, Surface tablets). Some apps can take up a lot of space – the trick is to determine which pig has the most space on your hard drive and what you can live without.

From the Start menu, go to Settings select Apps and then select Apps & Features . Here you will see all downloaded apps. Windows 10 allows you to rank them by different metrics – if you have a long list, you can organize them by the amount of hard drive they occupy.

See which apps have the most data and don't delete the ones you don't use. Double check that the app contains nothing too valuable, select it and choose Delete .

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How to Change OneDrive Usage

OneDrive is a cloud service for Windows, so you would think that any cloud data it uses would not use up hard drive space. This is true, except for one particular OneDrive feature: the ability to store files offline, which you may not even know you are using.

Sometimes this is useful. If you're dealing with sensitive files or large projects with tight deadlines, it's a good idea to have a backup. But if you use OneDrive and automatically save offline for every file and document at work, school, or home, you're probably wasting hard drive space.

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The OneDrive icon would be on the right side of your taskbar (it may lurk under the Show Hidden Icons arrow). Click the cloud icon and choose Settings (the three dots in the top right corner), then select the option Preferences . Doing so will take you to all the file types OneDrive offline stores and how much space they take up.

Deselect all OneDrive folders you don't need. Remember, you can still access all these files online on OneDrive.com so you don't lose anything.

Use your Xbox One

Microsoft platforms are increasingly interconnected and the convergence is very apparent in Windows 10, which connects more freely to other Microsoft devices such as the Xbox One game console. If you have an Xbox One, you can use it to save some space by exchanging certain apps and data. You can stream content from the Xbox to your Windows 10 PC with just a few steps.

This service allows you to save data to the game console and free up space on your PC if you have content that you use at home alone. Don't forget to delete the data from your PC after transferring it to the Xbox.

Use an external drive

From USB drives to full external hard drives, one of the easiest ways to clean up your hard drive in Windows 10 is to move extra data outside of your computer.

First connect a hard drive and make sure it is properly formatted and ready for upload. Dragging and dropping a file into the new disk using File Explorer creates a copy of the file so you can erase the original.

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You can also move large pieces of files at the same time. Open your File Explorer on the taskbar and select all the files you want to transfer outside of your PC's hard drive. Once selected, go to the Home menu at the top of the screen, select Move to then select Choose Location . Choose your external drive from the list and all files in that destination will be deleted – no more erasing after that.

Use a cloud storage service

Instead of having to buy an external hard drive or USB, you can simply copy your files to free or paid cloud storage services and delete the copy on your PC. For those unfamiliar, the benefits of cloud storage include the ability to have your files and operating system copied and recovered on new devices as needed, rather than relying on physical storage such as USBs and external hard drives.

Most smartphones will automatically save files such as photos to the cloud as a backup in case of physical damage or electronic failure. PC users can drag and drop data into the cloud storage or upload it effortlessly, although it is essential to pay attention to how much storage space your service offers. Commonly used examples include iDrive (our favorite), as well as Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, iCloud and more.

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