How to See What is Taking Up Space on C Drive

All too often, computer users find themselves scratching their heads, staring at a “Low Disk Space” warning, and wondering, “What on earth is taking up so much room on my C drive?” If you’ve ever been in this predicament, you’re certainly not alone.

The feeling is akin to looking at a cluttered room and wondering where to even begin tidying.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve deep into how to see what is taking up space on your C drive, ensuring your computer runs efficiently and you reclaim some of that much-needed storage.

How to See What is Taking Up Space on C Drive

Ah, the age-old question that’s stumped many a computer user. In today’s digital age, where we’re constantly downloading, uploading, saving, and deleting files, it’s all too easy to lose track.

Let’s dive into the various methods and tools to uncover the mystery of the missing storage space.

Using Windows Built-in Tools

You don’t need to look far. Windows has its own built-in tools that can give you a clear picture.

  1. Disk Cleanup: A quick way to remove temporary files, system cache, and even old Windows installations that might be lurking around.
    • Press Windows + S
    • Type in “Disk Cleanup” and select it
    • Choose the C drive and hit ‘OK’. This will show you a list of files that can be safely deleted and how much space they’re occupying.
  2. Storage Sense: Introduced in Windows 10, it provides a visual representation.
    • Go to Settings > System > Storage
    • Click on the C drive and you’ll get a breakdown of what’s taking up space.

Third-party Tools

For those who prefer a bit more detail and flair, third-party applications can offer in-depth analysis.

  1. WinDirStat: This nifty tool provides a colorful representation of your files, making it easier to spot the biggest culprits.
  2. TreeSize Free: Another user-friendly application, it shows your files and folders in a tree structure, detailing which ones are hogging the most space.

Remember, though, to always download third-party tools from reputable sources. It’s ironic and counterproductive to download a tool to save space, only to end up with malware!

Manually Checking File Sizes

For the purists who like doing things the old-fashioned way, or just for a quick check:

  • Go to This PC
  • Right-click on the C drive
  • Select Properties.
  • The ‘General’ tab will provide a pie chart detailing free and used space.

Dealing with Space Hogging Files

Now that you’ve identified the culprits, it’s time to take action. Before you start deleting randomly though, remember the golden rule: Always backup important files.

  1. Uninstall Unnecessary Programs: These can often be the biggest culprits. Head to Control Panel > Programs and Features and uninstall any program you no longer use.
  2. Clear Temporary Files: They might seem small, but boy do they add up! Tools like Disk Cleanup can do the trick.
  3. Manage System Restore Points: Old restore points can eat up space. If you have a stable system, consider deleting some old points to free up some room.

Prevention is Better than Cure

Don’t wait for another “Low Disk Space” warning. Make it a monthly ritual to check what’s taking up space on your C drive. This proactive approach will save you the panic later.

Regular Clean-up:

Before making any significant changes to your computer, it’s essential to back up any important files to prevent accidental loss.

One of the primary tools available on Windows for cleaning up the C: drive is the Disk Cleanup Tool.

On Windows 10, you can access this by typing “Disk Cleanup” in the search bar.

Once opened, you’ll choose the C: drive and proceed to select the types of files you wish to delete, such as Temporary Internet Files and System Cache.

For a more comprehensive clean, there’s an option to “Clean up system files,” which can remove old versions of Windows or unnecessary system restore points. In Windows 11 or newer versions, the process is slightly different.

Head to Settings, then “System”, and under “Storage,” you will find “Cleanup recommendations.” Review these suggestions and remove as needed.

Over time, many of us accumulate programs that we no longer use. To free up space, open the Control Panel, navigate to “Programs” and then “Programs and Features.”

From here, it’s a good practice to sort programs by size to see which are consuming the most space and then uninstall those that are no longer necessary.

Another crucial step is cleaning out temporary files. By pressing the Windows Key + R and typing %temp% into the dialog box, you’ll be directed to a folder full of temporary files. These can typically be safely deleted.

Also, don’t forget about the “Downloads” folder. Regularly reviewing and clearing out old or unneeded files can recover significant space.

After you’ve finished these steps, remember to empty the Recycle Bin by right-clicking on its desktop icon and selecting “Empty Recycle Bin.”

For those who are a bit more adventurous, you can manually review the contents of the C: drive.

However, exercise caution here. It’s vital to only delete files or folders you recognize and are confident you don’t need. Always steer clear of system folders to avoid unintentional harm to your operating system.

If your computer still uses a traditional HDD, consider running a disk defragmentation from the search bar by typing “Defragment.” Do note that if you’re on an SSD, defragmentation is not recommended.

Another aspect of maintaining a healthy drive is to clear system restore points occasionally.

Access “System Properties” from the search bar, select the “System Protection” tab, and then “Configure” for the C: drive, where you can then choose to delete restore points.

Lastly, for a smooth-running system, it’s advisable to conduct regular antivirus or anti-malware scans, ensuring no malicious programs are using up resources.

To keep your computer running optimally, consider setting up a routine, such as monthly clean-ups, to stay ahead of any potential clutter or issues.

Limit Downloads

Be mindful of what you’re downloading. Do you really need that program or can an online tool suffice?

Firstly, the C: drive is where the operating system and essential system files are usually stored.

By keeping this drive as uncluttered as possible, you help ensure that your system runs efficiently.

The operating system requires a certain amount of free space to function correctly, especially for tasks like updates, caching, and temporary file storage.

If the C: drive becomes too full, these processes can slow down, potentially causing system performance issues or errors.

Use External Storage or Cloud:

Several external storage options can be used instead of the C: drive include:

  • External Hard Drives (HDDs): These are portable drives that offer vast amounts of storage and connect via USB, eSATA, or Thunderbolt ports.
  • Solid State Drives (SSDs): Like HDDs but faster, these can also be used externally via similar connectors.
  • USB Flash Drives: Smaller storage devices ideal for transferring or backing up files.
  • Cloud Storage: Services like Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive provide online storage accessible from any device with internet.

These alternatives can help offload data from the primary drive, ensuring it remains uncluttered.


Figuring out how to see what is taking up space on your C drive might seem daunting at first, but with the right tools and a systematic approach, it’s a breeze. Take back control of your storage space and ensure your computer runs at its optimal best. Happy decluttering!

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Edward brings years of experience in a variety of different fields including online marketing & No-code app development, and he's been investing in stocks and cryptocurrency since 2016. Outside of work you'll usually find him watching movies at the local cinema or playing games in the Apple Arcade.

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