How to Free Up Hard Disk Space?

April 7th, 2014 by Rossy Guide

What is hard disk?

When you save data or install programs on your computer, the information is typically written to your hard disk. The hard disk is a spindle of magnetic disks, called platters, that record and store information. Because the data is stored magnetically, information recorded to the hard disk remains intact after you turn your computer off. This is an important distinction between the hard disk and RAM, or memory, which is reset when the computer’s power is turned off.

The hard disk is housed inside the hard drive, which reads and writes data to the disk. The hard drive also transmits data back and forth between the CPU and the disk. When you save data on your hard disk, the hard drive has to write thousands, if not millions, of ones and zeros to the hard disk. It is an amazing process to think about, but may also be a good incentive to keep a backup of your data.

 

WinSXS folder:

The WinSXS folder at C:\Windows\WinSXS is massive and continues to grow the longer you have Windows installed. This folder builds up unnecessary files over time, such as old versions of system components. This folder also contains files for uninstalled, disabled Windows components. Even if you don’t have a Windows component installed, it will be present in your WinSXS folder, taking up space.

 

How to use WinSXS folder to free up space:

The WinSXS folder contains all Windows system components. In fact, component files elsewhere in Windows are just links to files contained in the WinSXS folder. The WinSXS folder contains every operating system file.

When Windows installs updates, it drops the new Windows component in the WinSXS folder and keeps the old component in the WinSXS folder. This means that every Windows Update you install increases the size of your WinSXS folder. This allows you to uninstall operating system updates from the Control Panel, which can be useful in the case of a buggy update — but it’s a feature that’s rarely used.

Clean Up Update Files:

To clean up such update files, open the Disk Cleanup wizard (tap the Windows key, type “disk cleanup” into the Start menu, and press Enter). Click the Clean up System Files button, enable the Windows Update Cleanup option and click OK. If you’ve been using your Windows 7 system for a few years, you’ll likely be able to free several gigabytes of space.

The next time you reboot after doing this, Windows will take a few minutes to clean up system files before you can log in and use your desktop. If you don’t see this feature in the Disk Cleanup window, you’re likely behind on your updates — install the latest updates from Windows Update.

Windows 8 and 8.1 include built-in features that do this automatically. In fact, there’s a StartComponentCleanup scheduled task included with Windows that will automatically run in the background, cleaning up components 30 days after you’ve installed them. This 30-day period gives you time to uninstall an update if it causes problems.

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