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How to create more Windows 10 disk space

To make sure Windows 10 works at its peak level, IT must free up disk space with the Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool and more.

The old saying goes, "You can never be too rich or too thin." Windows administrators would say, "You can never have too much disk space."

Windows finds ways to fill up system drives with all kinds of files and waste over time. Periodic disk cleanups can provide additional breathing room for Windows systems. In fact, Windows needs at least 25% of free space on the system or boot drive to give the OS room to work. With less to sort through, the OS can also produce faster search results and easier access to the resources users want.

There are a few straightforward ways to clean up space, such as deleting Windows.old, the previous version of Windows the OS saves in case users want to roll back their OS. IT can also clean out the Library, including the Documents, Videos and Pictures folders, or relocate files users want to keep to an Archives folder.

Given the fairly frequent, major updates for Windows 10, it's never a bad time to explore a couple of overlooked ways to free up Windows 10 disk space.

DISM cleanup tricks

Periodic disk cleanups can provide additional breathing room for Windows systems.

Admins can use Windows' built-in Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) command-line tool, DISM.exe, to conduct more disk cleanups. Before they do, they must make sure the current image installed is healthy; if it isn't, they'll have to fix it before proceeding.

Administrator: Command Prompt
Commands to check health and save on disk space

The first DISM command with the /checkhealth switch makes sure nothing is wrong with the Windows Component Store (WinSXS). If it's healthy, the next command goes to work using these two switches:

  • /StartComponentCleanup. Deletes previous versions of updated components in WinSXS.
  • /ResetBase. Deletes superseded versions for all components in WinSXS. By itself, the previous switch only checks updated items, so this switch does the serious cleaning.

For Windows 10 systems, this command can reclaim anywhere from a few hundred megabytes of Windows 10 disk space to as much as 1 GB to 2 GB.

A visual once-over eliminates clutter

Just to make sure something unexpected isn't sucking up Windows 10 disk space, it's a good idea to use a file-system display tool to see what the C: drive layout looks like. Free, open source tools, such as WinDirStat, are good for this. The big blocks in the disk layout show where surprises might pop up.

The WinDirStat tool
Looking for big blocks in WinDirStat shows where large space savings might be possible.

Admins can also use WinDirStat, or tools like it, to inspect files on the drives it targets. If admins use it to check out their Driver Store, it can tell if they should clean up the drivers, too.

Next Steps

Three more ways to free up more disk space

Windows 10 update pop quiz

Prepare to migrate to Windows 10

This was last published in November 2016

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What methods do you use to ensure the Windows on-disk footprint doesn't grow too large?
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