How to make room on your Windows partition

Today's Best Tech Deals

Picked by PCWorld's Editors

Top Deals On Great Products

Picked by Techconnect's Editors

Acharya1987's C: drive is running out of space. I offer my suggestions, as does the Answer Line forum.

I'm going to concentrate here on recovering disc space in Windows and your applications, but not in your libraries. If you keep separate Windows and data partitions (which I heartily recommend), following the advice below could significantly improve space on drive C: (the Windows partition). If you keep everything on one big partition, it will still help, but not as dramatically.

[Email your tech questions to]

Before you do anything else, create a restore point. In Windows 7, click Start, or in Windows 8, go to the Search charm. In either one, type restore point, and select Create a restore point, then follow the prompts.

Now that you're safe, let's do some cleaning. Go to C:'s root directory and look for a folder called Windows.old. If it's there, examine the User folder within Windows.old to find out if there's anything there you need. If there is, move the files to an appropriate folder elsewhere, such as Documents. Then delete Windows.old.

Next, open Control Panel's Programs and Features applet, and search for programs you're no longer using. Uninstall them.

You can also clean out your temp folder. Search for %temp% (including the percent signs) and you'll find it. You can safely remove any file older than the last time you booted the PC.

Next, use Windows' disk-cleaning tool, which in its latest edition can remove old updates. But be warned, doing so loses you the ability to remove an update and return Windows to a former version.

In Windows 7, you'll need to make sure you have this Windows update installed. You probably already do.

When you're ready for cleaning, you need to launch the Disk Cleanup tool as an administrator:

In Windows 7, click Start and type cleanmgr. But don't just launch the program. Right-click cleanmgr.exe and select Run as administrator.

In Windows 8.1, use the Search charm to find cleanmgr. Select cleanmgr switches. On the resulting screen, right-click cleanmgr switches and select Run as administrator at the bottom of the screen.

Click for full size

Once the program has examined your drive, you'll find a list of several cleanup options. The most lucrative one, the one that removes old updates, is called Previous Windows installation(s). Make sure that it's checked.

Most of the space you recover won't be visible until you next boot.

You'll find plenty of other suggestions at the original forum discussion.

Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon