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For some reason my 120GB SSD keeps filling up dramatically, sometimes so much so I only have 7GB left. Currently I have 17GB left which is still a low amount. I've only installed the OS and a few small programs that are forced onto the C drive by default. Apart from that I always try to install programs on my mechanical drive. I've looked elsewhere prior to asking on this and they usually have suggestions such as using ccleaner, performing a windows disk clean, disabling hibernation via the command prompt and similar things.

It should be said I perform a weekly clean of my PC with ccleaner so I can't see how my drive would be filling up given that I clean it out regularly. So there must be another underlying cause.

I have noticed something strange. I did a ccleaner disk checker scan and it came up with the results as shown in the image below. As you can see 93GB is taken up by 'other files' on the drive. However I have no idea on what I should do next. Any suggestions?

CCleaner Analysis enter image description here

WinDirStat Top Level enter image description here

WinDirStat Windows Dir

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  • WinDirStat shows 7GB in your recycle bin. Empty it if you don't need it.
    – chue x
    Aug 5, 2015 at 0:47
  • @Matt Clark I tired doing that but I redid the scan and it still shows 7.4GB
    – user447436
    Aug 5, 2015 at 12:21

3 Answers 3

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You have a WinDirStat graph, which is a great start.

Let's first deal with the obvious one: looking at your WinDirStat graph, you have 7.4 GB in the recycle bin. Empty the recycle bin to free up that space.

Your Windows directory is the largest, but 30-40 GB is pretty normal in my experience. The "installer" and "WinSxS" folders under your Windows folder (which you mentioned in a comment on another answer) contain backup copies of the installers for any software or Windows features/patches you've installed. Microsoft has an article describing how to safely reduce the size of the WinSxS folder but, as Michael Frank mentioned in his answer, you won't be able to uninstall those service packs, updates, or components later. Don't even think about clearing out the "installer" folder, because doing so will similarly prevent you from uninstalling many applications including MS Office and many third-party software products.

The 16 GB pagefile.sys is the Windows swapfile. Rebooting will clear it, but it will regrow automatically as-needed. You can set a fixed size or move it to a different drive in the System control panel, but messing with the swapfile can have performance implications.

Next up is your Users directory. If you log into each user account and enter %TEMP% into Windows Explorer, you may find a large number of temporary files that can be deleted. Preferably, you should delete these via the Disk Cleanup applet, but you can delete them manually, too. You will probably also find a bunch of crap in each user's Downloads and Desktop folders. Delete unneeded downloads as appropriate.

The Program Files (x86) and Program Files directories are where your installed applications live. You can uninstall applications from the control panel to free up space in these directories, assuming you didn't delete the installer backups under the Windows directory.

ProgramData is where various applications store data that should be shared across multiple users on the same machine. Some applications actually install to this directory so they can auto-update themselves without requiring administrator permissions.

$Windows.~BT is where Microsoft caches updates, including the new Windows 10 upgrade. If you've reserved Windows 10, don't delete this directory until after you've installed the upgrade.

Unfortunately, 120 GB is a pretty paltry amount of storage in a day of 10+ megapixel photos, HD video, and 20+ GB games with hi-res, immersive graphics. If you play games or take pictures or record video, you're bound to spend a lot of time just trying to free up space on your hard drive. This is probably the last thing you want to hear, but you'll be much happier in the long run if you upgrade to a larger SSD. Fortunately, they're much cheaper and commonly available in much higher capacities than they were only a few years ago.

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  • Also I'm the only account on this PC and it says I don't have permission to enter the temp folder. This is also an admin account.
    – user447436
    Aug 5, 2015 at 12:22
  • With regard to photos and that, I record a lot of footage and have a lot of games, however all of this is stored on a separate Mechanical drive. I install everything I can on this other drive. Only small programs are sometimes forced onto the C drive be default. If given the choice I always install on my HDD.
    – user447436
    Aug 5, 2015 at 12:25
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At this stage, I would run WinDirStat and find out what files/folders are taking up all that space. It will be quite evident from the output where the problem files are:

WinDirStat
Screenshot from https://windirstat.info/

Recently I had a very similar issue where the 60GB SSD on my server was suddenly full. Running WinDirStat visually pointed me to a large number of files that all had the same extension.

As it turned out, I hadn't changed the Plex AppData location when I installed it and it had been slowly creating a huge amount metadata files while indexing my media collection.

Since your culprit is a rather large Windows Update store (winsxs), you can use the Disk Cleanup Utility that comes with Windows to clean those files:

Disk Cleanup 1

Disk Cleanup 2

NOTE: You will not be able to uninstall any Updates that have had their installer file removed using this method.

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  • Great advice, I've pinned the culprit to being two files on windows. The installer and winsxs. (See in the updated answer) However I'm not sure what's safe to delete and what's not? How would I go about clearing this space this in a safe manner?
    – user447436
    Aug 4, 2015 at 22:43
  • I do this every month with zero difference.
    – user447436
    Aug 4, 2015 at 23:00
  • Note that deleting the installer backups under the Windows folder may prevent you from uninstalling those applications later.
    – rob
    Aug 4, 2015 at 23:09
  • @rob That's literally the last line of my answer. :) Aug 4, 2015 at 23:10
  • @MichaelFrank I read that line as only applying to the the installers for Windows components (e.g., Windows Update or manually-downloaded hotfixes). To clarify: I might be reading too much into GR412's comment but there is a separate installers folder that is not exposed via the Disk Cleanup applet. If you delete these installer backups for other applications (e.g., MS Office or any third-party software), you may not be able to uninstall or update the corresponding applications later.
    – rob
    Aug 4, 2015 at 23:18
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  1. There are tools such as TreeSize Free used to analyze the file usage. After looking through the files, find your own files, e.g. most of those in Documents, and either delete them or relocate the Documents folder and move its contents to another drive.

  2. Perform Windows Drive Cleanup, including system files.

  3. Remove unneeded Windows Update backup files from the WinSxS folder. There are also tips at this link on removing or moving other system files.

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  • Do you have a lot of RAM? There may be a big file for your virtual memory, which is more or less normal. If you have been crashing a lot you may have a lot of crash reports queued up to go to MS. Setting this to a "minidump" can help.
    – Saulysw
    Aug 4, 2015 at 22:28
  • @Saulysw Where is that located?
    – user447436
    Aug 4, 2015 at 23:05
  • Recovery options in Windows 7 are located in (type in Run) "advanced System Settings" then in the "Startup and Recovery" section press "Settings" (button). Then in the "System failure" section change the drop down list to "Small memory dump". Also in run type "Windows Error" and check the queued windows error reports in the Archive.
    – Saulysw
    Aug 5, 2015 at 0:32
  • The dump that is sent to Microsoft after a BSOD is always a minidump ("small memory dump") unless MS has specifically asked for a larger one after a particular crash. The option described here controls the type of dump file that Windows creates in addition to the minidump; this additional dump is not normally sent to MS. If you don't set it to "minidump" this file is typically hundreds of MB to a few GB, or "size of RAM" for a full memory dump. But Windows only keeps one of them, they are never queued, so there is no chance of them accumulating. Aug 5, 2015 at 1:23

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