Low storage on Windows 11? Here’s how to free up disk space on your PC

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The last thing you want is a hard drive with little or no storage space. A nearly full hard drive negatively affects your entire computer, which will inevitably slow it down and cause your applications to crash more frequently. The only real solution is to clean up your drive and remove the large files taking up the most space, and Windows 11 makes it easy to get rid of what you don’t need.

Instead of downloading third-party software to free up disk space, Windows 11 has a few settings you can configure to quickly delete temporary and system files, as well as old downloads. And if you’re worried about getting rid of important files, don’t worry – Windows 11 will help you decide what to get rid of to improve your PC’s performance.


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How to automatically free up space on Windows 11

On your Windows 11 computer, go to Settings -> System -> Storage. If this is your first time visiting this setting, wait a few seconds for your computer to scan your data storage. Once Windows has collected what it needs to know, you will be able to see your total free memory at the top of the page. Below, you’ll see a breakdown of your storage, divided into apps and features, temporary files and other. You can also click Show more categories to display another breakdown.

However, the parameter we are interested in is Meaning of storage, which automatically frees up space on your computer whenever your disk space is low. It does this by deleting temporary files, emptying your trash, and getting rid of old downloads, all in the background, without you having to do it manually.

Storage management page with Storage Sense enabled

Enable Storage Sense to have Windows 11 free up space automatically.

Nelson Aguilar/CNET

To turn on Meaning of storage, just enable it here. If you click on the setting, you can configure several features:

  • Run storage scan: Run Storage Sense when disk space is low (default) or daily, weekly, or monthly.
  • Delete files from my trash if they’ve been there for over a year: Choose 1 day, 14 days, 30 days (default) or 60 days.
  • Delete files from my Downloads folder if they have not been opened for more than: Choose never (default), 1 day, 14 days, 30 days or 60 days.

These Storage Sense settings can help you limit what files are deleted and when, so you don’t have to worry about deleting important files from your computer.

Configure cleanup schedule settings

You can configure how often Windows 11 cleans up your disk space, as well as what files it deletes and how often.

Nelson Aguilar/CNET

At the bottom of the page, you can click Run storage scan now to use the function here and there.

And if you want to get rid of more files to free up space, use the Cleaning recommendations functionality under Storage Sense. If you click on it, it will scan your system and recommend files for you to manually delete, such as temporary files, large or unused files, files synced to your cloud, and unused apps.

Want to learn more about Windows 11? Check biggest differences between Windows 10 and Windows 11. Also, these are the best Windows 11 features you need to know about. And if you haven’t downloaded Windows 11 yet, here’s what you need to do.

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