How to Free Up Disk Space in Windows Server 2012 r2

by John, Updated on: October 6, 2021

When C drive is running out of space, you should do something as fast as possible, otherwise, the server could stuck or reboot unexpectedly. To solve this problem, the first thing you should do is freeing up disk space, then server could keep running without issue. In addition, there will be more free space to install programs to help solve this problem. To free up disk space in Server 2012 R2, you may either use Windows native Disk Cleanup utility or third party system optimization software. If you cannot get enough free space after cleaning up disk, you'd better add more free space from other partition.

1. How to free up disk space with Server 2012 Disk Cleanup

The same with other versions, Windows Server 2012 has native Disk Cleanup utility, which is able to delete most common types of unnecessary and junk files fast and safely. There is no need to run third party software to help free up disk space in Windows 2012 server.

Note: before cleaning up disk space, follow the steps to install/enable Disk Clean in Windows 2012 Server.

Steps to free up disk space in Windows Server 2012 (R2) with Disk Cleanup tool:

Step 1: Press Windows and R on your keyboard, type cleanmgr and press Enter.

Step 2: Select C: (or other) drive in the drop-down list and click OK.

Select C drive

Step 3: Select the files that you want to remove in next window. After clicking OK, Disk Cleanup will ask you to confirm.

Select files

My test server is new installed, so I can reclaim little space. To the servers that never or have not free up disk space for a long time, Server 2012 Disk Cleanup utility may helps you regain several gigabyte of disk space. If you want to get more free space, you may continue to try the additional steps below.

2. Additional methods to free up space in Windows Server 2012:

Uninstall Programs and Features

Press Windows and X on keyboard, select Programs and Features, right click the item that you want to remove and click Uninstall.

Reset 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. When system C drive is almost full, you may consider decreasing the disk space usage or change the location for Recycle Bin to other volume. Steps:

  1. Right click Recycle Bin in Desktop and click Properties.
  2. Select a drive for Recycle Bin.
  3. Select Customer size and enter an amount.

Reset Paging File

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

  1. Press Windows and R on keyboard to start Run.
  2. Type sysdm.cpl ,3 and press Enter.
  3. Click Settings under Performance in Advanced tab.
  4. Click Change under Virtual Memory.
  5. Uncheck Automatically manage paging file size for all drives on the top.
  6. Select D: or other drive, enter amount of Initial size and Maximum size in Customer size radio box, and then click Set.
  7. Select C: drive and select No paging file radio box, then click Set.
  8. Click OK.

Set Page File

Change default settings

If you installed programs or use some Windows services with default settings, you may change the output path to other partitions. If there are files there, move to another partition.

If you search by Google, you'll find more solutions to help free up disk space in Windows Server 2012 (r2). Of course you may try them if you have enough time. But in most cases, the methods above are fast and efficient enough. If you need more free space in C drive, the best way is moving free other partitions.

3. Add more free space to C: drive from another partition or disk

If your system C: drive is created small or you cannot get plenty of free space after trying many methods, you can add free space to C drive from other partitions. That means, shrink other partitions to get Unallocated space and then add into C drive. In this way, Operating System, programs and associated settings, as well as anything else keep the same with before.

Download NIUBI Partition Editor and follow the steps in the video to add more space to C drive:

Video guide

If you use any types of hardware RAID arrays such as RAID 1/5/6/10, or run Server 2012 in VMware/Hyper-V, follow the same steps and there is no difference. Besides shrinking and extend partition, this software help you merge, convert, defrag, wipe partition, optimize file system, scan bad sectors and much more.

If there's no other data partition or not enough available space on the same disk, you can clone disk to a larger one. During this step, you can enlarge C: drive (and other partitions) with extra disk space. Follow the steps in the video:

Video guide

New junk files are generated continuously, you'd better expand C drive as large as possible and run Server 2012 Disk Cleanup utility to free up disk space every month.