How to Use Windows 10 Disk Cleanup to Free up Space

It’s smart to buy a small SSD to run your OS, but this can lead to its own problems. All too often, temporary files and deleted items can build up, getting your drive so clogged that it can affect performance. Because of this, Microsoft has created the Windows 10 disk cleanup tool, which you can utilize to free up space on your C: drive or any other drive.

Unfortunately, low disk space notifications don’t tend to direct you to this tool, instead taking you to Windows storage settings. This leads many to wonder where disk clean up is in Windows 10. Though it isn’t displayed prominently in the settings app, you can find it quite easily in Control Panel or via the Start Menu.

Running Disk Cleanup in Windows 10 can free up space by deleting files that you don’t need. The most savings are often found by deleting previous Windows installations and files left in the recycle bin, but it also looks for temporary internet files, thumbnails, error reports, and more.

Disk Cleanup in classic mode

If you start Windows 10 disk cleanup in classic mode you can select to delete the following filetypes from your hard disk:

  • Microsoft Defender Antivirus
  • Windows upgrade log files
  • Downloaded Program Files
  • Temporary Internet Files
  • DirectX Shader Cache
  • Delivery Optimization Files
  • Device driver packages
  • Language Resource Files
  • Recycle Bin
  • Temporary files
  • Thumbnails

If you start Windows 10 disk cleanup in advanced mode you can select to delete the following filetypes from your hard disk:

  • Temporary Setup Files
  • Old Chkdsk files
  • Setup Log Files
  • Windows Update Cleanup
  • Microsoft Defender Antivirus
  • Windows upgrade log files
  • Diagnostic data viewer database files
  • Downloaded Program Files
  • Feedback Hub Archive log files
  • Temporary Internet Files
  • System error memory dump files
  • System error minidump files
  • Windows error reports and feedback diagnostics
  • Branchcache
  • DirectX Shader Cache
  • Delivery Optimization Files
  • Language Resource Files
  • Recycle Bin
  • RetailDemo Offine Content
  • Temporary files
  • Thumbnails
  • User file history

After cleaning up, you might also want to enable system compression, which can make your windows binaries and program files smaller.

How to Run and Use Windows 10 Disk Cleanup in standard / classic mode

You can open the regular Windows 10 Disk Cleanup via the Run dialog, or proceed to the second heading for advanced disk cleanup. There you can select to delete the following filetypes:

  1. Open Disk Cleanup

    Press “Windows + R” to open the Run dialogue, type “cleanmgr”, and press “OK”.

    Windows 10 - run disk cleanup

  2. Select the items you’d like to delete

    Tick the types of files you want to remove and press “OK”.

    Windows 10 - Disk Cleanup - Select Files to Delete

  3. Confirm your decision

    Windows 10 - Disk Cleanup - Permanently Delete Confirmation

  4. Clean up system files

    Back in the main Disk Cleanup window, click on “Clean up system files” near the bottom.

    Windows 10 - Disk Cleanup system files

  5. Choose the system files you’d like to remove and press “OK”.

    Windows 10 - Disk Cleanup - includingsystem files

  6. Accept the permanent deletion

    Windows 10 - Disk Cleanup - Delete Files

  7. Open Disk Cleanup again as an admin

    In the Start Menu, type “Disk Cleanup”, click the first result, and then the “Run as administrator” option.

    Windows 10 - Search - Disk cleanup - run as administrator

  8. Tick “Downloaded Program Files” and “Temporary Internet Files”

    Then click on “Clean up system files”.

    Windows 10 - Disk leanup as administrator - open clean up system files

  9. Open “More Options”

    Switch to the “More Options” tab and click on “Clean up…”.

    Windows 10 - Disk cleanup - run as administrator - cleanup system files - more options

  10. Uninstall unused programs

    You can now uninstall the programs you use the least by clicking on them and pressing “Uninstall” in the top bar. When you’re done, cross out the window.

    Windows 10 - Control Panel - Uninstall or change a program

  11. Clean up system restore and shadow copies

    Back in the “More Options” screen, look for the “System Restore and Shadow Copies” heading and click “Clean up…”.

    Windows 10 Disk cleanup - more options - clean up system restore points

  12. Confirm the deletion

    Deleting your system restore points will still keep the latest one should you need to revert anything. Press “Delete” to remove all of the ones before that and free up space.

    Windows 10 Disk cleanup - more options - clean up system restore points - confirmation

  13. Wait for the process to complete

    It should only take a couple of minutes.

    Windows 10 - Disk Cleanup - cleaning

How to Open Windows 10 Extended Disk Cleanup via Command Prompt

You can clean up Windows 10 even more via the extended Disk Cleanup tool, which can be accessed via the command line.

  1. Open Command Prompt

    Press the Windows key and type “command prompt”. Select the first entry under ‘Best match’ and choose “Run as administrator”.

    Windows 10 - Search - Command Prompt - Run as Administrator

  2. Run the Cleanmgr command

    In the Command Prompt window, type the following and press “Enter”:

    cmd.exe /c Cleanmgr /sageset:65535 & Cleanmgr /sagerun:65535

    Disk Cleanup Settings will now launch. Tick the files you’d like to delete – you’ll notice that you have more options than in the regular version, including Chdsk files and Microsoft Defender and press “OK”.

    Windows 10 - Command Prompt - cmd.exe cleanmgr

  3. Wait for the process to complete

    Windows will take a little time to remove the files you selected. Make sure Command Prompt stays open while this happens.

    02.3 Windows 10 - Extended Disk Cleanup - deletion

How to run Extended Disk Cleanup via Shortcut

In all likelihood, you’ll need to free up space in Windows 10 more than once. To speed up the Extended Disk Cleanup process, you can create a shortcut on your desktop.

  1. Create a new shortcut

    Right-click on your desktop and select “New > Shortcut”.

    Windows 10 - Desktop - right-click context menu

  2. Enter the CMD command

    In the location field, paste the command we used in the previous step, which is:

    cmd.exe /c Cleanmgr /sageset:65535 & Cleanmgr /sagerun:65535

    Press “Next”.

    Windows 10 - create new shortcut - add command

  3. Give it a name

    Name your shortcut whatever makes the most sense to you. In our case, that’s “Extreme Disk Cleanup”. Press “Finish”.

    Windows 10 - create new shortcut - name shortcut

  4. Open the shortcut

    Double-click the shortcut to open it. It should automatically open command prompt and then the Advanced Disk Cleanup tool. Use it as normal, ticking the items you’d like to delete and also running the “Clean up system files” tool.

    Windows 10 - Run extreme Disk Cleanup with shortcut