Discover what is using the most space on the disk in Windows 10

Track down big folders and files to see what is using the disk space

Although disk drives have grown in size, so have our files and there never seems to be enough space. Finding out what is using the most space is an easy task in the Windows 10 Settings app.

Find out what is using the most space on the disk in PCs using the Windows Settings app.

Old style mechanical disk drives are big and cheap, but many people still have problems with storage space because the size of digital media like photos, videos and music is also growing.

Some games are also very large and can require several gigabytes of storage space. In fact, some need over 20GB of space. Even a large disk drive can find itself short of space.

If you are lucky enough to have a solid state drive (SSD), you will be well aware of storage problems. Drives are much smaller than mechanical disks and may be just a couple of hundred GB. The storage space is easily used up.

Related: How to save disk space with Files On Demand

What is using the most disk space?

You may not have realised it, but Windows 10 can answer this question. At one time a third party utility was required, and one will be looked at shortly, but there is a tool built into Windows that can tell you what is using the most space.

Press Windows+I to open the Settings app.

Click System and then select Storage on the left.

Disk space usage in the Windows 10 Settings app

You have probably seen this before, but you may not have realised that the disk usage bars on the right can be clicked. Go ahead and click the C: drive.

The disk space usage is displayed in categories like Desktop, System & reserved, Apps & games, Pictures, Documents, Videos and so on. I was shocked to find 87.2GB of files on the desktop!

Disk space usage in the Windows 10 Settings app

Each of these items can be clicked and some of them show more details. For example, click System & reserved and it shows how much space Windows is using and what for. Most items cannot be changed, but there is a button to manage the space used by system restore.

Disk space usage in the Windows 10 Settings app

Click Temporary files in the Storage usage and there are options to remove them to recover the disk space. Temporary files are safe to delete, but you might want to keep the items in the Downloads folder. The recycle bin size is shown and it can be emptied.

Clean temporary files in the Windows 10 Settings app

Click the Other category in the disk usage list to see what else is using all the disk space. It lists the biggest folders on the disk no matter where they are. Here you can see that a lot of space is used by VirtualBox virtual machines, Google Drive, Music and so on.

Disk space usage in the Windows 10 Settings app

If any of these items are clicked, they open an Explorer window to show the contents of the folders.

See disk space usage in TreeSize Free

TreeSize Free is a useful utility that goes further than Windows and it enables you to see which folders are using the most disk space.

Using it is straightforward and clicking the first icon in the toolbar, Select Directory, enables you to choose the disk to analyse. Choose the Windows (C:) drive. Treesize begins scanning the disk, counting the number of files and adding up their sizes.

It takes some time to complete, so wait till it has finished.

TreeSize Free shows the disk space usage in Windows

Click any column heading to sort the results. For example, click Size to sort the folders with the largest at the top. Folders can be expanded to see subfolders and these can be expanded too.

TreeSize Free shows the disk space usage in Windows

Keep on drilling down until you find out which folders are using the most space. Whether there are any files that can be deleted is a different matter and you may find that you need the files. Video clips, games, photos, music and so on, are all valuable and you may not want to delete them.

I found several large folders I didn’t realise were taking up so much disk space. I will certainly be taking a close look at them in Explorer and seeing if they can be cleaned up.


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