More than 4 years ago, I published a guide to free up space in Windows. I dealt mainly with Windows 7 during those days. Now after 3 iterations of Windows OS (8, 8.1, 10), I think now is the right time to update it.
I will be updating this post constantly as I see fit to accommodate new techniques that I discover in preserving that precious hard disk space.
In this post, I will try to be more organized with my thoughts and use a framework (table of contents). Yes, it might break the free flowing thoughts but its a good measure to respect the table of contents as it will help me create a cleaner post without leaving you my dear reader confused. Plus, it’s a great tool for those who wants to get the information fast and easy without delving into a long post.
And oh, I am running Windows 10 so if you cannot follow some of the instructions, feel free to comment your OS version and I will try my best to translate it to your Windows version.
Table of Contents
- The backstory
- Discovering the space hog
- Discover large programs
- Discover large files
- Managing the space hog
- Getting more context (last used columns and others)
- Move / Delete
- Getting rid of hiberfil.sys
Recently I got the ASUS ROG G752 gaming laptop. The laptop is quite a beast if you ask me. The configuration I got boasts a 256GB SSD (C:) and a 1TB HDD (D:). With the two 1 TB external hard disks coupled with the G752 massive storage, I though I wouldn’t run out of disk space for all my data. Well, I was wrong. Currently here is the state of my disk drives (after some spring cleaning 30 minutes ago).
Before, my drive D: only has 5GB remaining for grabs. That triggered my to revisit my disk drives and do some spring cleaning. With my researching on how to do it the fastest way, I figured why not share it to everyone? This will be helpful not only for me but also for other people struggling to get their data fit into their almost fully occupied disk drives.
So here it is my dear readers, a guide that will (hopefully *ahem*) help you in cleaning your disk drives to give you more space.
Discovering the space hog
Observer (Scout), Plan, Execute.
These are the words that I learned from one of my colleagues. It seems pretty simple but it will guide us in recovering free space from your machine. So before we go and do a massive program and file hunt, lets do observe first.
Tools needed for the job:
- Discovering large programs
- Windows Control Panel (Add/Remove Programs)
- Discovering large files
Before anything else, you need to choose from the tools that I mentioned. As of now (guide version 1.0: 2016-06-01), I will write this post using Ccleaner and the new tool that I discovered, SpaceSniffer. Don’t be worried though as I will be updating the post in the future and I will cover steps for WinDirStat.
Discovering large programs
To discover those programs occupying large amount of space in our machine, let’s fire up CCleaner. Head over to Tools > Uninstall and it will present you the list of programs installed in your machine including the space it occupies.
Discovering large files
Now to discover the large files residing in your machine, open SpaceSniffer executable and select the drives to analyze and select start.
Pro tip: You can select multiple drives by holding CTRL key and clicking the drive of your choice.
After clicking start you will now see space sniffer map your files. If given administrative rights, it will also crawl and analyze systems files for you.
In Space Sniffer, the boxes represents the folders that you have in your disk drives. Clicking one of the boxes will show the folders inside the main folder which you have clicked. This gives you the ability to browse the file system and know its size and decide whether or not delete it in your system.
Managing the space hog
Now these sections are very straightforward. Heck you can actually understand them without reading through all of them. So what’s new? Well, nothing much really except that I dropped some tips here and there.
If you’re an advanced user, you can skip this part.
So basically you need to remove those large programs right? But what if some of those really large programs are essentials ones and you wanted to keep them? Well, worry not as we can find more context on the programs that we need to uninstall.
Getting more context (last used columns and others)
Click start and type “Program and Features” and press enter.
That will take you to the Add/Remove Programs window built-in to Windows 10. By default you will have the columns:
- Installed On
I’m pretty sure the default columns won’t help you in gathering more context on the program that you wanted to remove and I bet you wanted to get more columns right? Well, here is the good news – you can!
All you have to do is right click the column name and click more. This will bring up a new window wherein you can select additional columns to be displayed.
Personally I only tick the “Last used” column but you can add the other columns presented as well.
With the additional columns added to your arsenal, you can now better decide on what program to remove on your system!
Move / Delete
Not much in here. Just move and delete. Oh wait. You’re waiting for a tip right? Okay. For those moving large / humongous amounts of data, here is a tip:
I’m not a fan of TerraCopy but my buddies are telling they are achieving faster copy speeds when using such software.
Oh. What do we have here. A miscellaneous section. I wonder what this section will provide?
Anyway, there are other more advanced methods of reclaiming free space on your machine. One of which is getting rid of hiberfil.sys.
Getting rid of hiberfil.sys
Before we mess with the hiberfil.sys, let us know what is this file first.
What is hiberfil.sys?
hiberfil.sys is a system file generated by Windows. This is mainly used in connection with the Hibernate function and the Instant On / Fast boot / Fast startup functionality of Windows machines.
Usually this file grows up to the size of the RAM installed in your machine.
Do I need the hibernate and / or Instant On / Fast boot functionality?
It depends. I for example, do not need such functionality. Most of the time, Desktop users won’t be bothered by turning off the hibernate functionality. However, laptop users might think twice before removing this file since most of the time they run on batteries and the hibernate function is a lifesaver especially if the laptop is running low on battery.
If you haven’t used the hibernate functionality or does not have an idea on how it works, you should probably just turn it off.
I need more space, let me get rid of the hiberfil.sys
I see you have decided to remove such file. Don’t worry, I shall teach you how to do it.
- First, let’s turn off the fast boot option by pressing Windows Key + X and select Power Options
- Then after the Power Options window opened, select Choose what closing the lid does or Choose what the power buttons do.
- Then select Change settings that are currently unavailable.
- And finally untick Turn on fast startup and click Save Changes.
Now that is for turning off the Instant On / Fast boot / Fast startup option. In order to fully disable / delete the hiberfil.sys, you need to disable the hibernate option. To do this,
- First, fire up an elevated privilege command prompt (run command prompt as admin or press Windows Key + X and select Command Prompt (Admin)).
- Second, confirm any privilege escalation being prompted by Windows.
- Now type the following:
powercfg /H off
- Press ENTER and viola! Hibernate functionality now turned off! You will also notice that the hiberfil.sys is now gone!
And that it folks! I hope you learned new things while reading this post! See you soon!