Is your Windows 10 computer running low on space? If it is, you may be struggling to install updates and software, and your system may be slowing down. Whenever your PC’s performance takes a turn for the worse, it’s always best to see how much disk space you have available and what is taking up space on your hard drive.
If you’re not sure how to see the files and apps that are filling your local disk, there are several ways in which you can look. It’s even possible to be extra thorough and reveal the hidden files that may be clogging up your hard disk drive.
In this article, we share how Windows 10 users can see what is taking up space on their hard disk drive, along with some quick and easy fixes for freeing up space so your computer runs smoothly. Let’s get started!
What’s Taking Up Space on Your Windows 10 Hard Drive?
Windows 10 makes it easy to view and manage your hard drive storage usage. This means you can always keep track of your apps and files and see which offending programs are taking up space and slowing your computer down.
Follow these simple steps to see which files take up the most space on your device.
Step 1: Open Settings on Windows 10.
You can get information on the storage status of your Windows computer or laptop via your computer’s Settings. You can find the Settings window by pressing the Windows key and searching for Settings in the Windows Start menu. Click on Open to view.
Step 2: In the Settings window, click on System.
System should be a prominent option among the settings in the Settings window. If you cannot see it, use the search box to search for it.
The System window is a hub for all the basic information about your computer, including the Windows edition, processor, and, of course, storage.
Step 3: In the System window, click on Storage.
In Windows 10, the Storage settings screen is where you’ll find all the information about your hard disk drive and the files on it.
In the menu on the left-hand side of the System window, click on the Storage tab to see what is happening in your main hard drive.
Step 4: Review your local disk, “(C:),” to see what is taking up space on your hard drive.
In the Storage window, your local disk storage will be prominently displayed. This section, identified by C:, shows you the total capacity of your hard drive in gigabytes, how much of your hard disk drive capacity is currently being used, and how much free space you have available.
Storage usage for the main type is broken down into four different file types:
- Apps & features
- Temporary files
It displays the amount of disk space each file type takes up in gigabytes. You can also click on each file type to see the files that are taking up the most space. The individual apps, programs, documents, and media are listed and searchable. Next to each individual file is its size and the date it was installed. You can also click on these files to immediately remove them.
Step 5: To view other file types that are taking up space, click Show More Categories.
Clicking on Show more categories opens a drop-down of additional storage categories, including:
- Other people/users
Step 6: Under More Storage Settings, click View Storage Usage on Other Drives.
This shows you the storage usage on other hard drives associated with your computer. If you only have one hard drive, there will be no additional information.
If you have multiple hard drives, a breakdown of storage will be available for each associated hard drive, like your local drive.
Do You Have Hidden Files Eating Up Your Disk Space?
Your computer may also have hidden files that are taking up valuable disk space and slowing your system down. The key is in the name — “hidden” files have the hidden attribute switch on, meaning that they go incognito in your system. You won’t be able to see these files by checking your local disk or browsing folders.
Windows 10 does support hidden files but, unfortunately, malware, spyware, or other unwanted downloads can self-install hidden files that are running in the background. To be absolutely sure you know what is on your hard drives, you can use the methods below to expose them for review.
Show Hidden Files Using the Attribute Command
With the attribute command, you can literally “command” the hidden files in your system to show themselves. In Windows, this command enables you to change the file attributes of any file or folder.
You can run this command from the Command Prompt that is available in Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Vista and XP.
Below are the steps to show your hidden files.
Step 1. Press the Windows key + “X” to open the Administrator’s menu.
This is a useful menu that covers a range of administrative functions including the Command Prompt. You can bring up the menu by simply pressing the Windows key and “X” together.
Step 2: In the menu that appears, click on Windows Powershell (Admin) to open it as an administrator.
Depending on the manufacturer of your computer, your menu may call this option Command Prompt (Admin). This opens the Command Prompt Window.
Step 3: In the Command Prompt window, type in the attribute command for hidden files.
You’ll need to use the attribute command to check the drive for hidden files. By using this command, you are clearing the hidden file attribute (-h) from all files that are on your hard drive, (C:).
Type in the Command Prompt window attrib -h -r -s /s /d G:\*.* and press Enter. Please note that this may not work on every Windows 10 computer.
Use File Explorer to View Hidden Files
Use File Explorer in Windows 10 to reveal any hidden files that are taking up disk space.
Microsoft recommends the following steps below.
Step 1: Press the Windows key and search for File Explorer.
Open File Explore to manage your file settings.
Step 2: In File Explorer, change the folder and search options.
You can change the folder and search options by selecting View in the taskbar, clicking Options, then clicking Change folder and search options.
Step 3: Show your hidden files.
Within the Change folder and search options, select View. Within this tab, navigate to Advanced settings.
You should then see the option, Show hidden files, folders, and drives. Select this option and click OK to make the files visible.
Top Tips for Freeing Up Disk Space in Windows 10
Now that you can see what is taking up space on your hard disk drive, you can manage your local disk and free up space so that your computer performs better.
Here are 4 easy, actionable things you can do to solve low disk space:
1. Switch on Storage Sense.
If you aren’t proactive about file management, Storage Sense is one of the best things you can do for your computer.
It is a setting that partners with your OneDrive account to automatically move files you aren’t using regularly to your OneDrive Cloud storage. The files remain visible in the locations you expect on your PC but are retrieved from OneDrive, leaving you with more space on your hard drive.
You’ll find the Storage Sense setting above your local disk information in the Storage window mentioned above.
2. Empty Your Temp Folder.
Your disk can become cluttered with many temporary files that don’t need to remain on your system.
The Temp folder is one of the first places you should look if you’re running low on disk space. Application (.appx) files are a common file type that clogs the temp folder.
3. Run a Reputable Antivirus Software.
A sudden loss of disk space may be because of malware or spyware that has corrupted system files. Act quickly if you suspect that a virus has infected your Windows 10 PC, run Malwarebytes or similar software to clean up your disk.
4. Delete Files and Apps You Don’t Need
If you have files and apps that you simply aren’t using anymore, there’s no need to keep them on your hard drive. When you review your storage using the steps above, you can delete documents, pictures, and software that are no longer necessary. If you can’t bear to part with them, move them to external storage.
It’s really easy to let unnecessary files and folders build up on your hard drive and slow things down. Knowing how to check your hard drive ensures that you can check for files that need to be deleted to maintain maximum disk space.
If you have a OneDrive account, Storage Sense is one of the best ways to keep your disk space optimized at all times without the hassle of checking your files yourself.
Check out the video below to for more information on how to see what is taking up space on your hard drive.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©monticello/Shutterstock.com.