How can you delete inactive files

Clean up Windows hard drive

If Windows has no more air to breathe because there is not enough space on the hard disk, it sounds the alarm. Then you have to clear out good or bad. c't provides answers to the most important questions about plastering on the panel.

When do I have to start mucking out my hard drive?

The good news: Windows or applications usually use error messages to indicate that there is not enough space left. As long as these do not appear, you do not need to clean up. Because: The PC is not slowed down by files that are inactive on the disk.

The bad news: if error messages pop up, you need to be quick. Otherwise Windows will help itself in its emergency and deactivate, for example, system restore and hibernation and reduce the size of the swap file. It also gradually deletes existing restore points.

How can I free up space on my hard drive?

1. Perform disk cleanup

Windows provides a tool with "Disk Cleanup" to free yourself from ballast. These include temporary files, logs, cached thumbnails, installation files, and much more. And this is how it works: Type "Disk Cleanup" into the search field of the start menu or blindly on the start page and select your Windows partition (usually drive c :). A list of suggestions for what to delete will appear. Clicking on "Clean up system files" triggers an even more thorough search for unnecessary data. But be careful: As a user, you may have a different view of the dispensability of files than Windows. Therefore only check the list if you are sure.

2. Find large files

Deleting large files that you have created yourself but have long forgotten is a particularly quick and easy way to free up space. First clean up the download folder in Explorer. Next, double-click the system drive in Explorer and enter "size:> 100m" in the search field. The Explorer will then show you all files larger than 100 Mbytes. Delete any files that you know are redundant.

3. Find large folders

A folder with countless small files is large in total and is therefore also relevant when cleaning out a hard drive. Explorer cannot sort folders by size, but free software such as WinDirStat or Treesize Free can. These examine either individual or all drives and output a tree view of all folders sorted according to their fill level, as well as a graphic presentation.

4. Sort out programs and games

Programs and games eat up a lot of memory. It is therefore worth taking a look at the control panel under "Programs and Features" or, under Windows 10, the settings under "Add or remove programs". Look through the list for unnecessary programs and uninstall them. This can also be worthwhile when playing games, also consider the saved scores.

5. Do not delete anything from the Windows folder!

Never delete something from the Windows folder that you are not entirely sure that it is unnecessary. Even files and folders that may seem useless at first can be important. For example, you can keep the files in the folder c: \ windows \ installer as well as the file netfx_core.mzz, as these will be needed for future updates.

Above all, keep your fingers off the folder winsxs. It contains all the files that Windows needs. If any were brought to a new version via update, hotfix or service pack, the old versions were also retained here - this is why the folder grows over time. They are mainly stored for future updates, but some applications, including Windows itself, need some of them during operation. Deleting the folder therefore has drastic consequences: Windows suffers a total write-off.

What free tools can help me clean up?

Will my PC speed up when I delete data?

The fact that a PC works faster if you regularly rid it of superfluous files is a rumor that has been around for ages, but does not apply to conventional hard drives or modern SSDs. The only thing that costs time with conventional hard drives is the time it takes for the read head to reach the next file or file fragment. Whether the head flies over a filled or empty space is irrelevant, only the distance counts. SSDs access the individual cells directly anyway, and the fill level of the others does not matter. As long as Windows has enough space to breathe, there is no gain in speed when cleaning up the hard drive. (axv)