How to Free Up Disk Space In Windows Server 2016

by Andy, Updated on: July 27, 2022

It is very common that C drive runs out of space in Windows Server 2016/2019/2022 and previous versions. In this situation, you may try to reclaim disk space without replacing disk with a new one. This article shows how to free up disk space in Windows Server 2016 with native Disk Cleanup utility and additional 4 ways. If you still cannot get plenty of free space, you'd better  add more free space to C drive from other data partitions without losing data.

Free up disk space with Server 2016 Disk Cleanup utility

To free up disk space in Windows Server 2016, the first choice is Windows native Disk Cleanup utility. Although there are many disk cleanup and optimization software, Windows Disk Cleanup is recommended, because it is safe and able to clear up many types of junk files. Nobody likes to put the server in danger for additional 1GB free space. Of course, if you have your own familiar and trustable cleanup software, you may ignore this step.

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

  1. Press Windows + E together to open File Explorer, right click C: drive and select Properties.
  2. Click Disk Cleanup in the pop-up window.
    Disk Cleanup
  3. Wait Disk Cleanup to scan the files that can be removed safely. (The time depends on server performance and the amount of junk files.)
  4. Click the check-boxes 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 corresponding description on the bottom.)
    Select files
  5. Click Delete Files in the pop-up window to confirm and start deleting.

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

To the servers 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, continue the additional 4 methods to reclaim more disk space in Windows 2016 server.

Additional methods to free up space in Windows Server 2016

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

2. 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 to open Run, type sysdm.cpl ,3 and press Enter.
  2. Click Settings under Performance on top of System Properties window.
  3. In the Performance Options window, switch to Advanced tab and click Change below Virtual memory.
  4. Uncheck Automatically manage paging file, then click C: drive > No paging file > Set. And then click D or other drive > Custom size > Enter an amount > Set. Click OK to confirm. (It may requires reboot to take affect.)

Rest 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 the keyboard > Programs and Features, uninstall the programs that you no longer need.

It is not enough if you get less than 20GB. Free disk space will be eaten up by new generated junk files, this is the reason why many people complain that C drive becomes full again in a short time.

To completely solve this problem, you'd better add more free space and expand C drive larger. 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.

Add free space to C drive after clean up disk space

If there's free unused space in other volumes on the same disk, you can shrink it to get Unallocated space and then add into system C drive. Operating System, programs and anything else keep the same with before.

Download NIUBI Partition Editor and follow the steps in the video to increase C drive free space for Server 2016:

Video guide

The steps are the same no matter you use SSD/HDD, any types of hardware RAID arrays or virtual disk in VMware/Hyper-V virtual machine.

To extend system C drive on Windows Server 2016, there are many choices in the market, but you'd better back up first and run safe partition software, because there is potential system damage and data loss risk. Better than other tools, NIUBI Partition Editor has innovative technologies to protect system and data:

In Summary

To free up disk space in Windows Server 2016, you may use either Windows native Disk Cleanup or third party software. But in most cases, you can't get large amount of free space. If you cannot get over 20GB free space, you'd better add more from other volume with NIUBI Partition Editor. Besides shrinking and extending partition, it helps move, merge, copy, convert, defrag, hide, optimze, wipe partition, scan bad sectors and much more.