My work laptop has been a free-hard-disk-space disaster for a while now, but I’ve mostly just been ignoring it. I really only use it when traveling, so it’s just not been much of a priority. I’ll empty the recycle bin or clear out my downloads folder to finish the tasks of the day. Not enough? Maybe I’ll run the Windows Disk Cleanup utility to get the temp files and whatnot. Those temporary measures are enough to get me through the day, but it’s really not enough. After hobbling along for probably more than a year, I finally did some real work to solve the problem, and I freed-up close to 100 GB using three tools.
A good, simple way to free up big space quickly is to uninstall programs you don’t need, particularly if you’ve got some big ones (cough, cough… World of Warcraft). Occasionally when performing this activity, I’ll run into a program that can’t be uninstalled because its installer is missing or corrupt. I’ve dealt with this in the past by doing a manual uninstall–deleting files and hunting around in the registry. When dealing this this recently, I somehow stumbled onto IOBit Uninstaller. In addition to dealing with the uninstallable, it also let’s you uninstall multiple programs at once. That’s a pretty nice feature when you’re looking to free up some disk space. Just scroll through the list, select all the programs you want to remove, and let IOBit Uninstaller remove them one by one.
I’ve used it a couple times on my home and work computers, and I’m a fan. https://www.iobit.com/en/advanceduninstaller.php
So you’ve taken care of the low-hanging fruit by uninstalling unused applications, but you still don’t have enough free space? It’s time to do a little investigative work to see what’s taking up all that space. I’ve used different tools in the past, but this time I took WinDirStat for a whirl. It did a fine job. I like that it gives you a tree-view with percentages that you can drill into as well as a visualization. In my case, I found 30 GB of files that had been uploaded to a synced OneDrive folder on my hard drive. In the past, I’ve also seen big, unused databases eating up tons of space.
https://www.fosshub.com/WinDirStat.html (official mirror)
My investigation also revealed that a fairly large amount of space was being taken up by C:\Windows\Installer, which brings me to my third and final tool…
I found WICleanup after doing some research about how to cleanup the Windows\Installer folder. I don’t really know how it works, but it “only deletes the unused files in the installer folder.” Sounds great, right? I tried it, and it seemed to work as advertised. I’m a little skeptical and concerned that I’ll hit problems later when trying to uninstall something, but hey–at least I’ve got IOBit to help me clean it up if I do.
Also, based on a tip from superuser.com, I ran WICleanup from the command line: