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Prompted by Adam..

I would like your suggestions as to freeing up space on a Windows machine. Yes, yes, I know disk space is cheap but sometimes, you have older machines that just need more space and it's easier to free up space than to have to go through the pain of migrating to a new disk.

So what do you recommend?

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To clarify, I'm looking for suggestions for what is safe to remove and not just space usage. –  JB. May 17 '09 at 5:31
    
Are you also then referring to ram/cpu usage? As in, which services are safe to disable? –  Kara Marfia May 18 '09 at 18:17
    
No. In this case, I'm just wondering about disk space but feel free to leave any tips. –  JB. May 20 '09 at 18:25
    
run "Disk Cleanup" in Windows 7 –  MacGyver Feb 17 '12 at 20:43
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closed as off topic by Chris S Jan 28 '12 at 3:51

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8 Answers

Using Windirstat you see where the wasted space is.

WinDirStat is a disk usage statistics viewer and cleanup tool for Microsoft Windows.

(The view you look for is)

  • The treemap, which shows the whole contents of the directory tree straight away
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Windirstat is good at identify space wastage but does not point out what is SAFE to remove. –  JB. May 17 '09 at 5:30
    
Right. Better to know where you are going to gain some space before exercising your professional judgment. –  gimel May 17 '09 at 6:29
    
I'm looking more for answers what to free up instead of where the disk usage goes... –  JB. Jun 5 '09 at 1:20
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Try CCleaner by Piriform. It can remove unused files from Widows, Internet Explorer, FireFox, Google Chrome, Opera, Safari and many other third party applications.

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CCleaner does a good job but does not delete stuff like Adobe Reader install files. –  JB. May 17 '09 at 5:33
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Users' temp folders often contain large amounts of unnecessary data, for example

C:\Documents and Settings\user\Local Settings\Temp

or

%userprofile%\AppData\Local\Temp

A simple way for a general cleanup is to run the Disk Space Cleanup Manager in Windows Vista (Search for "Disk Cleanup" in Vista's search box and run it.)

If you are running Windows Vista and installed Service Pack 1, there is a good chance you can free some GB by running the Windows Vista SP 1 cleanup utility (documentation):

vsp1cln.exe

(run it in an elevated CMD session.)

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Thanks for the tip about Vista SP1 cleanup –  Knox May 16 '09 at 11:56
    
Knox, you're welcome. It's a great satisfaction every time I run this little tool. :-) –  splattne May 16 '09 at 12:10
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If you have Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 that has had SP1 installed on it, run this command and it'll free up anywhere from 2-4GB.

dism /online /cleanup-image /spsuperseded
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First, use Scanner by Steffen Gerlach to find out where the space is going - I find it easier to read than Windirstat and it requires no installation.

Another program that might help is XP_Remove_Hotfix_Backup by Doug Knox.

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Getting used to treemaps takes a little time, but the graphic info is clear, at least as clear as scanner's stacked pie chart. –  gimel May 16 '09 at 10:59
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We have some old servers with 8GB C: drive. I end up deleting stuff like the $NTServicePackUninstall$ folder from c:\windows\system32 which frees up a few hundred meg. Also a server can end up with a lot of admin profiles on it, these can go too (of course they might come back again). What else? Move pagefile.sys to another drive if you can. Move the spool folder to another drive if there is heavy printer use.

I use TreeSize Pro because it has a handy "File Ages" bar chart where you can quickly see if any files in a folder are over 6 months old for example.

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I just sort the folders in Directory Opus by size and hunt around the top contestants, deleting useless stuff when I find it (like old temp files in windir and appdata, application or installer data for things no longer used like the sql bootstrapper files)... but sure, that's the hardcore way I guess ^^

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We use a tool called FolderSizes to manage disk space. It provides not only a hierarchical treemap view like WinDirStat, but also many other useful reports and tools. Note that it is NOT freeware, but the cost is very affordable and quickly pays for itself.

FolderSizes has the ability to report on actual and allocated disk space, and also shows oldest, largest, temp and duplicate files. It also classifies files by size, name length, owner, type, and more. Everything can be reported, exported, scheduled, etc.

But my favorite tool is the built-in metadata search. You can formulate complex file system queries to answer questions like "Who owns the largest files on this disk?" or "Which files haven't been modified in over a month?"

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