While the base amount of storage for Windows 10 devices is on the rise, it's still easy to fill up a device. Video files, photos, games, and apps can take up a lot of space very quickly. This roundup is of the best apps to help you free up storage space on your PC. We also have an article that goes more into depth on how to do a disc cleanup, how to use the Settings app and Control Panel to free up space and do more advanced operations to clean up your PC storage.
Two of my main devices have 100GB and 64GB of storage respectively and I don't use all of the available storage on those devices. While I obviously don't have 90GB games, the principles I use can help you free up space to fit more of what you'd like onto your devices.
Settings and Control Panel
Settings and the Control Panel should be your first port of call when it comes to freeing up space. Using them, you can uninstall apps, turn on Storage Sense, and see which programs and files are taking up the most space on your device.
Storage Sense is especially useful because it can automatically delete files that haven't been used in a long time. You can elect to have files be deleted after not being used for 1, 14, 30, or 60 days. You can also use Settings to delete temporary files and older installations of Windows.
There's a good chance that if you've never cleaned up your device's storage that you have multiple gigabytes of unused files and apps. The Settings app and Control Panel could make the largest difference when it comes to freeing up space.
Deleting old installations of Windows and clearing your cache is great, but if your storage hogs are files you need rather than junk files, you'll need to take a different approach. Dropbox has a Smart Sync feature that allows you to preview every file you have stored on Dropbox without having to store them locally. You can easily switch files between being stored locally or just on the cloud. This is great for if you have a ton of files or have larger files such as long or high-quality videos.
Dropbox Smart Sync is available on Windows 10 and also works on MacOS. To get Smart Sync, you need to be on an individual professional plan or be part of a team plan. Full pricing and breakdowns of features you get on each plan are available on Dropbox's website
OneDrive's Files on Demand works similarly to Dropbox Smart Sync. You can select which files or folders sync onto your device and quickly switch which ones are stored locally.
It's important to note that the version of OneDrive that powers Files on Demand is the built-in OneDrive desktop app on Windows 10, not the UWP version you can download through the Microsoft Store.
Once you've cleared out needless files and folders, and selectively synced items onto your device, you could be in good shape when it comes to storage, but there are a few culprits that could still be taking up a lot of space. One of the biggest space eaters is going to be photos and videos. With many phones supporting automatic backup of photos and videos onto the cloud, you can see every image you take on your phone on your PC. That means you'd have your photo folder synced to store locally, but every single version would show up on your PC, duplicates and all.
There are a number of ways that duplicate files can be created, for example, some messaging services automatically create a duplicate of images when you send them. While it's great to have your favorite images right on your PC, it's not worth having eight copies of each of them.
Duplicates Cleaner helps you delete duplicate images and free up space. It searches your system for duplicate files and then lets you easily install them.
The app has a free version, or you can get the paid prime version that lets you scan multiple sections of your PC at once for $5.29. Both are available on Windows 10 and HoloLens.
Summing things up
While it is easy to fill up a hard drive, it's also easy to clear things off of it. If you know how to remove unused files and programs, clear out duplicates, and rely on the cloud, you can manage things well when it comes to storage.
Sean Endicott is the news writer for Windows Central. If it runs Windows, is made by Microsoft, or has anything to do with either, he's on it. Sean's been with Windows Central since 2017 and is also our resident app expert. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at firstname.lastname@example.org.
OneDrive files on demand helped me a lot to save space on my SP3's 256gig ssd. Before that I had to choose what folders to sync but that wasn't very productive. Also the Windows 10 builtin storage options like mentioned helped a lot.
Exactly the case for me. In all honesty that's all I needed. I don't have lots of big games or random large apps installed - only what I need, and 128GB is enough for me. But before files on demand - I was cutting it too close, with my storage pushing past 60% full regularly. Also, all my photos are in Google Photos. Literally all of them.
Duplicates Cleaner is ok, but there doesn't appear to be an option to search for all filetypes, so I'm left with nearly clear folders, but I still end up having to check every single one, so it doesn't save me time. I like everything else about it, just without the all document option, it's not going to save me as much time as it should.
Do the Windows in S-mode have the OneDive File On Demand feature?
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