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My laptop has run out of space

Posted by Michael Greenhill
Updated on August 30, 2016

If you can’t save any more files to your laptop because you’ve run out of space, follow these steps to identify where it’s all gone and what you can do about it.

Restart your laptop

This might seem unrelated, but Windows cannot delete or update certain files while they’re in use. Restarting your laptop allows Windows to delete old files and perform system maintenance.

Disk cleanup

Take a backup!

This step deletes files from your computer. Make sure you’ve backed up your files first!

Open up the Start menu and type in “disk cleanup”

Disk Cleanup
Disk Cleanup may ask which disk you want to clean – select C Drive

Click the “Clean up system files” button.

Disk cleanup 2

This will analyse the contents of C drive again…

Disk cleanup

When it has finished calculating, look through some of the options available to clean up. Common space hogs include Windows upgrade log filesRecycle bin, and Previous Windows installation(s).

Disk cleanup


Windirstat is an application available on school computers, which can be used to identify which files or folders are taking up disk space.

Proceed with caution!

Just because a folder or a file is taking up lots of disk space doesn’t mean you can delete it!

There are a number of files and folders that Windows relies on; deleting these will break your laptop.

You have been warned!

From the Start menu, open up Windirstat

Open Windirstsat

Select the drive you wish to analyse and click “OK”

Make sure you select C: drive here!
Make sure you select C: drive here!

Windirstat will then analyse the selected disk. This process takes a while.

Analysing space consumption

Once it’s finished analysing you’ll be presented with a visualisation of space consumption. The different colour groupings represent files in folders.

Space consumption

Clicking on one of the coloured blocks will take you to that file or folder in the folder tree above.


Above is an example of a system file which cannot be deleted. The visualisation shows that it’s using a large chunk of disk space, but if you try to delete it Windows will not work.

Updated on August 30, 2016

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