It feels like Microsoft is ramping up its major system updates for Windows, with one now coming every six months or so. But the problem, apart from potentially screwing up a bunch of utilities, is that Windows updates always leave a lot of temporary files and other space-stealing junk on your PC. This can accumulate over time and eat up many wasted gigabytes, which you may not be able to spare—nor should you have to.
It’s almost time for Microsoft’s semi-annual Windows 10 system update. Unlike the smaller, routine updates Windows 10 gets throughout the year, the April and October updates are when we get new features and see the largest changes to the ever-evolving OS.
To head off this problem, it’s a good idea to clean up these temporary files after every major Windows 10 update. It’s an easy process which first illustrated in a recent groovyPost article.
Open up Windows 10's Settings app, then the system section, and then the storage section. If you then scroll down, you will see an option that says “Free Up Space Now.” Click that.
Windows will now scan your computer and present you with a list of items that you can safely delete. Be sure to read each description carefully to make sure you really do want to delete it—once something is gone, there are no do-overs.
If you’re feeling nervous for any reason, consider making a system restore point before you wipe these temporary files away, in the rare chance something goes wrong. As you probably already know, a system restore point will “roll back” your PC to an earlier version if something is wrong with it.
To make a system restore point in Windows 10:
Open up your Start menu and search for “Create a restore point.”
Click the result “System Properties.”
When the box opens, select the main system drive under “Protection Settings”, and click the “Create” button.
Enter a description to identify the restore point. I usually use just the date.
Going back to reclaiming your hard drive space, if you go piecemeal, the one item that will make a big difference to delete are any files associated with “Previous Windows installations.” As you can see from the screenshot above, old files that we no longer needed ate up 28 gigabytes of space—that’s not a lot if your drive capacity is a terabyte or more, but it’s quite a bit for a smaller-capacity SSD.
Once you’re ready to make your choices, tick the boxes for the items you want deleted and click the “Remove Files” button at the bottom. You may have to restart the computer to finish the job, but get ready to enjoy all the free space you’ve saved once Windows loads up again.