Windows 10's Storage menu makes managing your hard drive a cinch

Windows 10
Greg Mombert/Digital Trends
Windows 10 slipped a very important new piece into its settings called the Storage section. It’s a great place to go for managing your disk space, tweaking data settings, or seeing what’s taking up so much damn room on your PC. Let’s talk about it!

The Windows 10 Storage section

The Storage section of Windows 10 brings many more features than you may be used to in the average Windows system menu. It was designed to be a hub connecting all your data management features, allowing you to quickly review and change things to reorganize or open up new space. This is a giant step forward – but it also means you can mess up or lose your data very easily if you don’t know what you are doing. Please take a bit to learn about Windows 10 storage first (don’t worry, it’s easier than it looks). We’ll start with the most basic of steps, where to find Storage in Windows 10.

Cortana and the search menu are happy to help out and take you directly there if you search for “storage.” If you prefer a more traditional way, head over to Settings, then choose System. In System you will see a sidebar with a series of categories, among them Storage.

When you first bring up Storage, it looks very basic. It seems to be a description of your drives, how much data space they are using in GBs, and how much free space is left. We are used to seeing this part – but the real magic happens when you click on one of your drives and open up a whole new set of options, including the ability to dive deeper into what’s taking up your disk space and delete any data you decide you don’t need.

Options to clear to disk space

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Looking to create some more room for your Windows device? Storage is the place to be. Start by heading over to your C: drive, which is often called “This PC.” This will bring up the Storage usage window, in which you can see where most of the data on your computer is kept.

You should notice several sections here, including “System and Reserved,” “Apps and Games,” and “Documents.” You can click on any of these three to bring up even more categories that show you just where data is being used. “System and Reserved” typically contains the lion’s share of Windows data, which makes it a good place to start if you want to clear out disk space. Let’s go over some of the most effective Storage tricks to get rid of unnecessary data.

Windows-drive-storage

Undo Hibernation: In “System and Reserved,” you’ll see GBs reserved for something called Hibernation file. If you never hibernate your computer, you can disable the function and free up those several gigs immediately. Access the command prompt mode as an Administrator, and type in the command “powercfg -h off” in the window. This should remove the hibernate option. Note that you can also turn off System restore (located right below Hibernation file) for your PC to save even more data, although losing this backup may put your computer in jeopardy if you ever need to wipe and restore to a previous state.

Nonessential software: Now let’s talk about “Apps and Games.” Less storage is freed up here, but this data tends to be more superfluous – you can get rid of it without changing the way your computer operates. Note that you can search for specific apps by name or sort them according to size or location when looking. If you want to get rid of an app, just click on it to bring up an instant Uninstall button – this works for all apps on your computer, not just those downloaded from the Windows Store. Also note the blue command at the top of the window to manage optional features. These are extensions and plugins used in software all over your computer that you don’t really need.

Windows-storage-temp-files

Temporary files: Let’s go all the way back to the first C: Drive menu, where you can scroll down to find a section on Temporary files, Downloads, and the Recycle Bin. These are all potential sources of files you can delete. Temporary files are probably the safest to get rid of because…well, they’re temporary, and would eventually be discarded anyway. The Recycle Bin is a classically safe place to clear space, and you can visit it directly from this menu. Downloads are also a safe area to clean house, as they represent files you’ve downloaded from the Internet. Usually, any file of important is then moved elsewhere by the user. Installers, meanwhile, don’t have a purpose after software is installed.

Other tricks in Storage

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  • Find out what’s important/unnecessary: Remember a couple paragraphs up, when we talked about sorting options for your apps? You can do this with any drive section in Storage, which is really useful for seeing at a glance what software is taking up the most of your storage space – and whether or not you need to have it. Also note that you can refresh each drive once you delete something to see how your action affects current space.
  • Automated storage decisions: All the way at the bottom of the first Storage window you will find a section called Save locations. Here are you can control exactly where new apps, docs, music, pictures, and videos will be saved. This allows for extensive future control over how your data is divided for easier storage clearing and better data management. For more in-depth management, you can also manage spaces and pools in a way that may seem more familiar to Windows 8 users.
  • OneDrive: We talked mostly about what to do in the C: Drive, but you’ll note more Drive options if you have OneDrive, Dropbox, and other various partitions set up. Each section provides data info, but OneDrive is worth calling out specifically, since Microsoft got rid of placeholders and made it more difficult to see what’s happening inside. Until Microsoft updates Windows with a OneDrive solution to this quandary, Storage is a great place to go when you want to manage the data you store in the cloud.
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