How to Free Up Storage Space in Windows 10

Introduction

Depending on your main storage drive's size, you may be looking for extra storage options for your Windows 10 system. This guide will help you decide what options are best for you.
Windows 10 explorer window

1 Clean Up Storage in Windows 10

Windows 10 offers a new option that lets you easily view and adjust your drive usage.

  1. Search Storage from the taskbar.
    Taskbar showing the search and storage
  2. Click Storage.
    Storage selection
  3. From here you get a variety of options, all having to do with managing data on your system.
    Windows 10 storage page
  4. Select a Drive to get a breakdown of what is on the drive such as applications and saved pictures.
    Windows 10 selected drive showing a breakdown of data

Uninstall Applications

  1. Click Apps and Games under Storage Usage.
    Apps and Games
  2. Select an Application you would like to uninstall.
    Windows 10 apps and games settings
  3. Click Uninstall.
    Uninstalling an app

Clear Temporary Files

  1. Select Temporary Files.
    Temporary files
  2. Select additional items you wish to remove and click Remove files.
    Windows 10 temporary files page

2 External Data Storage Options

There are various ways to increase your computer's data storage capacity.

USB Flash Drives

A usb thumbdrive
  • Your computer must have at least one available USB port.
  • To use your USB flash drive, connect it to any available USB port.
    A laptop showing a usb thumbdrive being plugged in
  • Windows 10 will automatically detect it and prompt you for further action.
    Windows 10 removable drive popup
  • If your computer does not come equipped with full size USB ports, or a port of a different kind, such as USB Type C, you may need to purchase a dongle to be able to connect full sized USB accessories to your machine.
    USB Type C dongle adapter.

External Hard Drive

A WD MyPassport external harddrive

  • External hard drives typically offer the largest amount of storage space for the money, and easily connect to your computer via USB.
  • There are both portable and larger form factor external drives on the market. The difference is not only in their size, but larger external hard drives usually require external power, while portable drives only require a USB connection. Keep this in mind if you would like your external drive to be portable.

SD or Micro SD Card

A 32GB microSD card
  • Your computer may have an available SD or Micro SD card slot. While this type of storage does not typically afford the same amount of space as the other options listed, its ultra compact form factor can still be very desirable for removable storage.
    A microSD slot in the side of a laptop
  • To use this type of storage, simply insert the SD card into the available slot.
  • The card itself can only be inserted into the slot in one way. These card slots are typically spring loaded, and the card should click into and out of place.

3 Get Started with Microsoft OneDrive

OneDrive is free cloud storage that comes with your Microsoft account. It’s like an extra hard drive that’s available from any of the devices you use, so the files you save there are always with you. If you have no accounts signed in to OneDrive or need to create an account, follow these steps.

  1. Select the Start button search for “OneDrive”, then click the OneDrive desktop app.
    Start menu search highlighting the OneDrive app.

    Sign in with your Microsoft account and password, Typically Microsoft account holders already sign in when they sign into their user account after starting their System. Local account holders will need to sign in and, may need to create a Microsoft account if you skipped the account creation process when setting up Windows 10 for the first time. 

  2. When OneDrive Setup starts, enter your work or school account if you do not have one, select Sign in to set up your account.
    Microsoft Onedrive setup page
  3. Click Personal. This will allow you to the area where you can create an account.
    Microsoft onedrive setup page with Personal selected
  4. Sign in with an existing account and click Next or click Create one if you don't have a Microsoft account.
    Microsoft one drive sign in page with create one selected
  5. If you are creating a new account, you will need to fill in your account details.
    Microsoft OneDrive Create account form.

    You can use your existing email address to sign up for a Microsoft account by selecting "Use your email instead" if you wish to use your personal email address instead of creating an outlook.com email address. You will still need to create a password for the account. 

  6. Follow and complete the on screen instructions to complete the sign up process.

4 How to Use Microsoft OneDrive

When getting started with OneDrive there are two screens in OneDrive Setup that are helpful to watch for:
  1. On the This is your OneDrive folder screen, take note of the location.
  2. If you want to change the folder location, select Change location - this is the best time to make this change.
    Microsoft one drive main folder
  3. Select Next once you are satisfied with the location.
  4. On the Sync files from your OneDrive screen, choose the folders you want to sync. This helps control the amount of space OneDrive files take on your computer and conserves bandwidth during sync processes. You can change this later in Settings, but this is a good opportunity as well.
    Micrtosoft onedrive sync page
  5. Click Next when ready.
  6. Once OneDrive is set up, simply choose the drive when saving a document. It will automatically sync if you are online.
  7. To move files to OneDrive, all you need to do is drag and drop.
    A file being dragged and dropped into onedrive

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Depending on your main storage drive's size, you may be looking for extra storage options for your Windows 10 system. This guide will help you decide what options are best for you.
Windows 10 explorer window

Windows 10 offers a new option that lets you easily view and adjust your drive usage.

  1. Search Storage from the taskbar.
    Taskbar showing the search and storage
  2. Click Storage.
    Storage selection
  3. From here you get a variety of options, all having to do with managing data on your system.
    Windows 10 storage page
  4. Select a Drive to get a breakdown of what is on the drive such as applications and saved pictures.
    Windows 10 selected drive showing a breakdown of data

Uninstall Applications

  1. Click Apps and Games under Storage Usage.
    Apps and Games
  2. Select an Application you would like to uninstall.
    Windows 10 apps and games settings
  3. Click Uninstall.
    Uninstalling an app

Clear Temporary Files

  1. Select Temporary Files.
    Temporary files
  2. Select additional items you wish to remove and click Remove files.
    Windows 10 temporary files page

There are various ways to increase your computer's data storage capacity.

USB Flash Drives

A usb thumbdrive
  • Your computer must have at least one available USB port.
  • To use your USB flash drive, connect it to any available USB port.
    A laptop showing a usb thumbdrive being plugged in
  • Windows 10 will automatically detect it and prompt you for further action.
    Windows 10 removable drive popup
  • If your computer does not come equipped with full size USB ports, or a port of a different kind, such as USB Type C, you may need to purchase a dongle to be able to connect full sized USB accessories to your machine.
    USB Type C dongle adapter.

External Hard Drive

A WD MyPassport external harddrive

  • External hard drives typically offer the largest amount of storage space for the money, and easily connect to your computer via USB.
  • There are both portable and larger form factor external drives on the market. The difference is not only in their size, but larger external hard drives usually require external power, while portable drives only require a USB connection. Keep this in mind if you would like your external drive to be portable.

SD or Micro SD Card

A 32GB microSD card
  • Your computer may have an available SD or Micro SD card slot. While this type of storage does not typically afford the same amount of space as the other options listed, its ultra compact form factor can still be very desirable for removable storage.
    A microSD slot in the side of a laptop
  • To use this type of storage, simply insert the SD card into the available slot.
  • The card itself can only be inserted into the slot in one way. These card slots are typically spring loaded, and the card should click into and out of place.

OneDrive is free cloud storage that comes with your Microsoft account. It’s like an extra hard drive that’s available from any of the devices you use, so the files you save there are always with you. If you have no accounts signed in to OneDrive or need to create an account, follow these steps.

  1. Select the Start button search for “OneDrive”, then click the OneDrive desktop app.
    Start menu search highlighting the OneDrive app.

    Sign in with your Microsoft account and password, Typically Microsoft account holders already sign in when they sign into their user account after starting their System. Local account holders will need to sign in and, may need to create a Microsoft account if you skipped the account creation process when setting up Windows 10 for the first time. 

  2. When OneDrive Setup starts, enter your work or school account if you do not have one, select Sign in to set up your account.
    Microsoft Onedrive setup page
  3. Click Personal. This will allow you to the area where you can create an account.
    Microsoft onedrive setup page with Personal selected
  4. Sign in with an existing account and click Next or click Create one if you don't have a Microsoft account.
    Microsoft one drive sign in page with create one selected
  5. If you are creating a new account, you will need to fill in your account details.
    Microsoft OneDrive Create account form.

    You can use your existing email address to sign up for a Microsoft account by selecting "Use your email instead" if you wish to use your personal email address instead of creating an outlook.com email address. You will still need to create a password for the account. 

  6. Follow and complete the on screen instructions to complete the sign up process.
When getting started with OneDrive there are two screens in OneDrive Setup that are helpful to watch for:
  1. On the This is your OneDrive folder screen, take note of the location.
  2. If you want to change the folder location, select Change location - this is the best time to make this change.
    Microsoft one drive main folder
  3. Select Next once you are satisfied with the location.
  4. On the Sync files from your OneDrive screen, choose the folders you want to sync. This helps control the amount of space OneDrive files take on your computer and conserves bandwidth during sync processes. You can change this later in Settings, but this is a good opportunity as well.
    Micrtosoft onedrive sync page
  5. Click Next when ready.
  6. Once OneDrive is set up, simply choose the drive when saving a document. It will automatically sync if you are online.
  7. To move files to OneDrive, all you need to do is drag and drop.
    A file being dragged and dropped into onedrive
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