Manage Windows Memory Space with Disk Cleanup or Storage Sense


Q: Is it still necessary to use Disk Cleanup if I enable Storage Sense in Windows 10?

A: Maintaining a computer isn’t something most users think about, but it’s just as important as your car.

One of the most important things to keep an eye on is the amount of free space on your hard drive, as Windows needs it to create lots of temporary files.

I generally recommend that you try to keep at least 15-20% of the total disk space free for virtual memory that Windows needs to create.

Virtual memory is created by using free space on the hard drive when Windows runs out of random access memory (RAM). So, when disk space gets low, it can have a huge impact on the overall performance of your computer.

Disk Cleanup vs Storage Sense

The Disk Cleanup utility has been built into Windows since Windows 98 and allows you to free up space by deleting unnecessary system-related files.

One of the challenges with this utility is that it may seem a bit too technical for some and because it’s a manual tool, you have to remember to use it or know how to configure something in the task scheduler.

Storage Sense is basically an updated way to manage unnecessary system files that can be configured as a set-and-forget utility.

By default, it’s disabled, so you’ll need to go to Start > Settings > System > Storage and toggle the Storage Sense option to “On” in the Storage Management section.

Next, you’ll want to click the arrow to the right to access options for how and when Storage Sense runs. By default, it is set to run automatically when disk space gets low, but you can change it to an interval ranging from daily to monthly.

The next option will determine how often the utility automatically deletes items from the Trash, which can be set to Never or up to 60 days.

If you rarely go to the Trash to retrieve something you deleted, or if you regularly delete many large files, you may want to set it to a shorter interval.

The final option deals with items in your Downloads folder and specifically what to do with items that have not been opened. If you often go to your Downloads folder to find something you downloaded in the distant past, you can leave this option on “Never”.

However, that means you’ll have to manually manage the files in your Downloads folder so it doesn’t pile up with space-hogging files.

Cleaning recommendations

Even with Storage Sense automatically freeing up space for you, there comes a time when you run out of disk space.

Just below the Storage Sense option is another useful utility that will provide suggestions for freeing up more space on your hard drive for items not directly addressed by Storage Sense.

You can also use Disk Cleanup to find other items that can be deleted, but they probably won’t take up much space compared to the items automatically deleted by the Storage Sense utility.


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