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You may not think much of it but whatever activity you do on your computer results in the storage of unnecessary files. If you browse the internet, a cache of files will be stored somewhere on your drive and those take up space if you never delete them. This is where the Windows 10 Disk Cleanup Tool comes in handy: it removes all the unwanted files on your computer resulting in precious space being freed up. But it’s not only with leftover stuff from the internet that Disk Cleanup works its magic.

One of the features of the Disk Cleanup is Clean Up System Files which not everyone takes advantage of. What this does is remove system files such as old installation files, leftovers from Windows Update and outdated device drivers from your system.

Introducing the WinSxS folder

The simplest way to describe this is a dumping ground for unwanted system files. In the past, an application can crash because it found DLLs with similar names but different versions. The problem was solved with Windows Vista when the WinSxS (this stands for Windows Side-by-Side) folder was introduced to keep track of all the files in the operating system.

Soon enough, the WinSxS folder became the storage place for files added during every Windows Update. Since this occurs quite often, the number of files would accumulate and thus consume much-needed space. Sometimes, the files might even reach sizes in GBs.

How to use the Disk Cleanup Tool

Space is never an issue until your computer warns you that there isn’t enough anymore. But why wait until that moment when you can eliminate unnecessary files as often as you wish? Doing this also makes it a habit and that’s always a good thing when space is concerned.

The Clean Up System Files feature of Disk Cleanup is responsible for removing the files from the WinSxS folder. Here’s how to run the tool:

  • Open File Explorer
  • Choose This PC
  • Select Local Disk (C:)
  • Choose the Manage Tab under Drive Tools then click Cleanup

That process won’t delete the files just yet – it will analyze it first. This step is necessary so you know which files can be deleted without causing any harm to your system.

Once analysis has been done, you will see a box called Disk Cleanup which lists down all the places where unnecessary files are located. With each location comes the size of the files. In short, this is an interface where you can find out how much space you can free up. A checkbox is available which you can tick in order for files in those locations to be removed.

Files come from locations such as Downloaded Program Files, Recycle Bin, Temporary Files, Thumbnails and User File History. You just need to select which locations you want files deleted from.

Within the Disk Cleanup interface is a button that says Clean up system files. Clicking on this shows another interface listing different locations where unnecessary files are located. Tick the boxes for those you want to delete. Once you are satisfied with everything, click on OK to remove unwanted files and regain much-needed space.

Apart from freeing up space on your hard drive, you should also know issues with Windows 10 and how to fix them by yourself. This will make your experience with the operating system a much smoother one. Plus, everything is better when you understand the system you are dealing with.