Have you noticed that your Windows PC is operating slower and less efficiently than you are used to, despite scans for malware and viruses turning up nothing? If you have already gone through the process of attempting to restore your PC to a previous point, performed a hard reset, and opened Task Manager to monitor CPU consumption without results, it might be that your PC has a memory problem. If the file storage on your Windows PC is stuffed full of photos, documents, temporary files, cookies, unused apps, and other forms of digital clutter, the entire system's performance can suffer. Learn more about how to save space in your Windows PC storage and get your computer operating efficiently in relatively short order.
One of the easiest and often overlooked things you can do to reduce the amount of space used on your PC is to regularly defragment your HDD (Hard Disc Drive) or SSD (Solid State Drive). Although such problems are more likely to be prevalent on Windows PCs that use HDD for storage, SSD can also experience issues with slowness caused by excessive storage being used. Defragmentation refers to the process of your PC evaluating whether files are unnecessarily spread across multiple folders, which not only takes up more space than is strictly necessary, but also greatly slows down your PC by having to search through multiple locations to assemble a single file.
The defragmentation process can be done manually at any time on Windows 11 by selecting the search bar, entering "defragment," and selecting the Defragment and Optimize Drives app, then following the instructions. You can also change the settings to ensure that your PC is defragmented regularly to avoid such issues from reoccurring. The Optimize option will analyze your storage to determine whether it needs to be optimized and if so, will help the PC run faster and more efficiently.
Much like your smartphone and many other electronic devices, your Windows PC tends to accumulate apps and programs which either take up more space than they are worth or are so rarely used as not to justify taking up valuable storage space. Such apps are informally referred to as "bloatware" due to their tendency to occupy large amounts of hard drive space and slow down the boot process when you power up your PC. One of the easiest means to get rid of bloatware and other problematic apps is to open the start menu, right-click on the icon of an unwanted app and select "Uninstall." Then, after following the directions from any uninstall wizard, you can remove it from your storage.
Another helpful trick is using the App & Features section of the Settings Menu to easily sort through and identify apps taking up space. From the App & Features section, users can sort various programs by Name, Size, and Install Date. If the last time you used Microsoft Teams was over two years ago and it's still on your Windows PC, that is an excellent example of bloatware. You can also pinpoint particularly large apps and identify more efficient replacements before deleting the app in question. One of the easiest and simplest methods of saving space on your computer is to transfer non-essential files like photos and videos to cloud storage before deleting the original files on your PC.
If you do not have the time or energy to devote to personally identifying and removing unwanted files and programs, there are several free and well-known applications for detecting and eliminating files with minimal effort on your part. In addition to scanning the typical areas of your hard drive, some file cleanup programs also offer the ability to review files in locations like your Recycle Bin, Chkdsk File Fragment, Temporary Files, Memory Dumps, Clipboard Files, Temporary Internet Files, Downloads, Thumbnail Caches, and much more.
Having the power and convenience of being able to delete all your useless files and browser cookies is great, but what if you accidentally delete something important? Thankfully, several programs, including CCleaner by Piriform and WinOptimizer by Ashampoo, offer justifications for why particular items should be deleted and allow you to select individual files and categories not to be deleted. Other examples of free and premium file storage trimming apps include IObit Advanced SystemCare Free, Razer Cortex, Restore, and System Mechanic by Iolo.
It is also worth mentioning that Windows PCs running Windows 10 and 11 also have access to a built-in option for file management known as Storage Sense. Users options include having all local files be transferred to Microsoft OneDrive if they have been unused for long periods, automatically deleting temporary files that aren't actively being used, and setting a regular schedule for emptying out your Downloads Folder and Recycle Bin. If you have the skills and experience, you can also consider creating a separate partition on your hard drive so that your personal and professional files can remain fully separated.
Although clearing out the digital cobwebs from your Windows PC storage space can be a bit monotonous, the results are more than worth the effort. Try these methods to eliminate clutter, cookies, bloatware, and other unwanted data to save space and improve overall efficiency.