How to regain computer hard drive space

Updated: 12/30/2021 by Computer Hope
Computer hard drive

Most of us run out of storage space at some point. When you do, it's good to know how to clean up your computer properly. The following sections show how to regain computer hard drive space. To proceed, select your operating system from the following list.

Windows Vista, 7, 8, 10, and 11

There are a few options for clearing space in Windows:

Run the Disk Cleanup option

  1. Press the Windows key, type Disk Cleanup, and press Enter.
  2. Select the drive that you need extra space on, and click OK.

Disk Cleanup drive selector

  1. In the Disk Cleanup window, check the box next to the items using up disk space, and click OK.

Disk Cleanup selections

  1. When prompted, click the Delete Files button.

Delete Files button

Uninstall old programs

You can regain a lot of disk space by uninstalling programs, including games you no longer use.

Disable System Restore

Windows users can also reduce the default space utilized by Windows System Restore and can gain several gigabytes of hard drive space. See the steps below for your version of Windows to disable system restore.

Windows 11

  1. Press the Windows key, type restore point, and then press Enter.
  2. In the System Properties window, click the Configure button on the System Protection tab.

System restore configure button - Windows 11

  1. In the System Protection window that opens, select the Disable system protection option (A).
  2. Click the Apply button (B) and click OK (C) to disable system restore.

Windows 11 - disable system restore

Windows 8 and 10

  1. Press the Windows key, type restore point, and then press Enter.
  2. In the System Properties window, click the Configure button on the System Protection tab.
  3. In the System Protection window that opens, select the Turn off system protection option.
  4. Click the Apply button, and then click OK to disable system restore.

Windows XP, Vista, and 7

  1. Click Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and select System Restore.
  2. In the System Restore window, click System Restore Settings.
  3. On the System Restore tab, you can check Turn off System Restore on all drives to disable this feature completely, or click the Settings button and decrease the disk space usage. We recommend the second option.

Move the swap file

If you have more than one hard drive in the computer and the C: drive is the drive running out of space, consider moving the swap file to another drive.

Disable hibernation

If you turn your computer off instead of using hibernation mode, you can disable this feature to free up lots of space.

Windows 2000 and XP

There are a few options for clearing space in Windows:

Run the Disk Cleanup option

  1. Open Windows Explorer.
  2. Right-click the hard drive you want to regain hard drive space. For example, right-click the C: drive.
  3. Click Properties.
  4. In the General tab, click the Disk Cleanup button located next to the pie chart.
  5. In the Disk Cleanup window, check the box next to the items (except "compress old files") that are using up disk space, click OK, and then click Yes if you want to proceed.

Compress?

When performing a Disk Cleanup, you have the option to compress your hard drive. We strongly recommend users do not compress their hard drives or compress their old files.

Uninstall old programs

You can regain a lot of disk space by uninstalling programs, including games you no longer use.

Disable System Restore

Windows XP, Vista, and 7 users can also reduce the default space utilized by Windows System Restore, gaining several gigabytes of hard drive space. See the steps below in customizing this feature.

  1. Click Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and open System Restore.
  2. In the System Restore window, click System Restore Settings.
  3. In the System Restore tab, you can check Turn off System Restore on all drives to disable this feature completely or click the Settings button to decrease space usage. We recommend the second option.

Additional suggestion for Windows 2000 and Windows XP users

Window 2000 and Windows XP keep all the necessary files needed to uninstall any updates installed on your computer. These files can take up several hundred megabytes and sometimes over a gigabyte of space on your hard drive.

Move the swap file

If you have more than one hard drive in the computer and the C: drive is the drive running out of space, consider moving the swap file to another drive.

Disable hibernation

If you turn your computer off instead of using hibernation mode, you can disable this feature to free up lots of space.

Microsoft Windows 95, 98, and ME

There are a few options for clearing space in Windows:

Clean up temporary files

  1. Click Start and then Search or Find.
  2. In the File type text field, type *.tmp and verify the computer is looking at the C: drive or the drive containing your operating system.
  3. Search for files and delete each of the temporary files.

Delete chk files

Perform the same steps above, except search for *.chk and delete all the found files.

Uninstall old programs

You can regain a lot of disk space by uninstalling programs, including games you no longer use.

MS-DOS and Windows 3.x

  1. From the MS-DOS prompt, type del *.tmp /s and del *.chk /s to delete any temporary files on the hard drive.
  2. Delete any software programs or games you are no longer using.

macOS

There are a few options for clearing space on your iMac or Macbook:

Manage hard drive storage

  1. In the menu bar at the top of the screen, click the Apple icon to open the Apple menu.
  2. In the Apple menu, select About This Mac.

About this mac selector

  1. In the System Information window that opens, click the Storage tab at the top.

macOS Storage tab

  1. Click the Manage button button on the right side.
  2. The following menu shows management options for your hard drive. You can follow Apple's recommended steps for clearing space, or you can choose one of the tabs on the left side and select items on your own.

macOS Storage options

Uninstall old programs

You can regain a lot of disk space by uninstalling programs, including games you no longer use.