Free up disk space automatically on Windows 10 with Storage Sense

storage sense

Storage Sense is a relatively new feature of the Windows 10 operating system that users may enable to free up disk space by having Windows 10 delete files automatically on the system.

If your Windows PC runs low on disk space all the time, you may find Storage Sense beneficial as it will free up disk space automatically. It can also be handy if you want temporary files and some other types of data to be deleted regularly.

Storage Sense can delete data in three different locations right now:

  • Delete temporary files that are not used anymore.
  • Delete files in the Recycle Bin
  • Delete files in the Downloads folder.

Enable Storage Sense on Windows 10

storage sense

The very first thing you need to do is enable Storage Sense. Note that you can take a look at the functionality of the storage feature without enabling it.

  1. Use the keyboard shortcut Windows-I to open the Settings application.
  2. Go to System > Storage

Windows 10 displays all connected hard drives and storage devices on the screen including their used and free space in Gigabytes.

You find the Storage Sense setting right on that page. While you may enable the feature right there, you may want to click on “change how we free up space” before you do as it allows you to configure the functionality.

configure windows 10 storage sense

You find the three available locations that you can delete files from under temporary files on the page that opens.

The options to delete files from the recycle bin and to clean up the downloads folder have a grace period of 30 days which means that Windows 10 will only delete files older than 30 days when Storage Sense is enabled.

Note that the deletion of files in the downloads folder is not enabled by default; while some users may find it useful to clean up the ever-growing folder, others may prefer to keep the files or back them up prior to deleting them manually from the main hard drive.

If the system is low on disk space at the time or if you are curious, you may click on the “clean now” button on the page to delete files based on the selected rules right away.  Windows 10 does not show a progress bar and no summary so that you don’t know right away how much space the cleanup operation freed up.

You need to check the Storage page for that as it lists all drives but that is only useful if you remember the amount that was occupied prior to running the cleanup.

Storage Sense should not be confused with Disk Cleanup, another tool that Windows users have access to. Disk Cleanup supports deleting files in the Recycle Bin and in temporary files folders, but it does not support clearing the downloads folder.

Obviously, you could delete files from all three supported locations manually anytime you run low on disk space or feel that the downloads folder gets too packed with downloaded files.

Just open Windows Explorer for that and go to the Downloads folder. Make sure “details” is selected under View in the menubar, and click on the Date header to sort the files by date. All that is left to do then is to select the oldest files, or use another selection method, and hit the Delete button.

If you don’t want the files to be moved to the Recycle Bin, hold down the Shift-key to bypass it and delete the files outright.

You may use third-party tools like CCleaner as well to delete files but you can’t configure the program to delete only files that are older than a certain age.

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