Free up disk space

How to free up disk space on Windows Server 2016?

It is very common that hard disk drive running out of space on both Windows servers and PCs, especially to system C: drive. In this situation, you may try to free up disk space without replacing with new disk. This article shows how to free up disk space on Windows Server 2016 with native Disk Cleanup utility and additional 4 ways to reclaim disk space. If you cannot get plenty of free space, you can increase C drive space by taking unused space from other partition drives.

Run Windows Disk Cleanup

To free up disk space on Windows Server 2016, the first choice is Windows native Disk Cleanup utility. Although there are professional disk cleanup and optimization software, I still like to use Windows Disk Cleanup, because it is safe and able to clear up many types of unnecessary files. I don’t want to put the computer in danger for additional 1GB free space.

If you have your own familiar and trustable cleanup software, you may ignore this step.

Steps to free up disk space on Windows Server 2016 with Disk Cleanup:

Step 1 Click on task bar or press Windows and E on keyboard to open File Explorer, right click C drive and select Properties.


Step 2 Click Disk Cleanup in the pop-up window.

Disk Cleanup

Wait Disk Cleanup to scan the files that can be removed safely.


 Click the check-box in front of the files that you want to delete and then click OK. If you don’t know what the files are, click it and you’ll see the description.

Select files

Step 4 Click Delete Files in the pop-up window to confirm this operation, done.


Tip If you like to use command line, refer how to run Disk Cleanup from cmd.

To the computer that never or have not free up disk space for a long time, Disk Cleanup may help you reclaim several GBs of disk space. If you cannot get plenty of free space, you may try the additional 4 ways below, or expand C drive by taking space from other partitions.

Additional 4 ways to free up space

1 Decrease Recycle Bin

All files that deleted by pressing DEL without SHIFT key will go to Recycle Bin, where you can revert these files to original location manually if you deleted them by mistake. Recycle Bin use part of space of C drive by default, so more files in Recycle Bin means less free space in C drive.

You can decrease the size and change the location of Recycle Bin to other larger partition.

  1. Right click Recycle Bin.
  2. Select the drive for Recycle Bin.
  3. Select Customer size and enter an amount, click OK to confirm.

Reset Recycle Bin

 Reset Page File

Page file uses part of disk space as virtual RAM and it is located in C drive by default, too. You can change it to other partition when C drive is getting full. Steps:

1. Press Windows and R key on keyboard to open Run, type sysdm.cpl and press Enter.

2. Switch to Advanced tab and click Settings under Performance on top.

Change page file

3. Switch to Advanced tab and click Change below Virtual memory.

Virtual memory

4. Un-check Automatically manage paging file, Click C: drive > No paging file > Set, Click D or other drive > Custom size > Enter an amount > Set. Click OK to confirm.

Caution It requires reboot to take affect.

Reset page file

3 Delete Shadow Copies

If you enabled Shadow Copy, you can delete the previous copes.

  1. Open Window File Explorer
  2. Right click C drive > click Properties > switch to Shadow Copies.
  3. Select the previous copies and click Delete Now.

Delete shadow copies

4 Uninstall programs

Press Windows and X on keyboard > Programs and Features, uninstall the programs that you no longer need.

Expand C drive larger

After running Windows Disk Cleanup and the 4 additional options, you may reclaim over 10GB disk space. However, it is not the end.

To most of the server, administrators can only get several GBs free space, it is not enough even if you get over 10GB. The free disk space will be eaten up by many types of files quickly, this is the reason why many people feedback that C drive becomes full again frequently.

To completely solve this problem, you’d better expand C drive to larger size. It is similar with a smart phone: if you use a 16GB device, you have to delete files and clean up very frequently, but you won’t encounter this problem for a long time if you use a 128GB or 256GB device.

To increase C drive space on Server 2016, there are many choices in the market, but you’d better use safe partition software, otherwise, there is system damage and data loss risk. When you shrink D or other partition to extend C drive, all related parameters of disk, partitions and files should be updated correctly, but some software error or hardware issue could cause part of parameters failed to updated. In that case, you cannot boot Windows or lose files.

To accomplish this task, NIUBI Partition Editor is recommended, because it provides many unique technologies to ensure system and data intact, for example: 1 Second Rollback, Virtual mode, Cancel-at-will. Its Hot-resize technology helps extend C drive on the fly.

Download NIUBI Partition Editor and follow the steps in the video:

In Summary

Disk Cleanup is not the final step to free up disk space on Windows Server 2016. Actually, it is the first step to get some precious free disk space in C drive, so the server could keep running smoothly. You’d better run it monthly to delete new generated junk and unnecessary files. The most important step is expanding C drive to larger size with NIUBI Partition Editor.