A Windows 11 feature that automatically frees up disk space for you

This story is part of 12 days full of tipsto help you make the most of your technology, your home and your health during the holiday season.

You never want a computer with little or no available disk space. A hard drive with no space negatively affects your computer; inevitably, it will slow down and your applications will freeze and crash more often.

And while the solution is obvious – you need to clean up your drive – you may have a hard time deciding exactly which files to delete. Luckily, Windows 11 makes it easy to get rid of what you don’t need and free up space on your computer.

Instead of downloading third-party software to free up disk space, Windows 11 has a few settings you can configure to quickly delete temporary and system files, as well as old downloads that you probably don’t need.

And if you’re worried about getting rid of important files, don’t worry — Windows 11 will help you decide what to get rid of to improve your PC’s performance.

If you want to learn more, stop by other features we love about Windows 11. You should read about it too the best desktop computers this year.

How to free up disk space automatically in Windows 11

Go to on your Windows 11 computer settings > system > storage. The first time you access this setting, wait a few seconds for your computer to analyze your data storage. Once Windows has gathered what it needs to know, you can see your total free memory at the top of the page. Below that, you’ll see a breakdown of your storage, divided into applications and functions, temporary data and other. You can also click Show more categories to see a further breakdown.

However, the setting we are interested in is memory sense, which automatically frees up disk space on your computer when disk space is low. It does this by deleting temporary files, emptying your recycle bin, and removing old downloads in the background without you having to do it manually.

Memory management page with memory optimization enabled

Enable Storage Sense to have Windows 11 free up disk space automatically.

Nelson Aguilar/CNET

To switch on memory sense, just turn it on here. If you click on the setting, you can configure several functions:

  • Run Storage Sense: Run Storage Sense when disk space is low (default), or every day, week, or month.
  • Delete files in my Recycle Bin if they’ve been there for a while: Choose 1 day, 14 days, 30 days (default) or 60 days.
  • Delete files in my Downloads folder if they have not been opened for longer than: Choose Never (default), 1 day, 14 days, 30 days or 60 days.

These storage optimization settings allow you to restrict which files are removed and when they are removed, so you don’t have to worry about important files being deleted from your computer.

Configure the settings for the cleanup schedule

You can configure how often Windows 11 cleans up your storage space and which files are deleted and how often.

Nelson Aguilar/CNET

You can click at the bottom of the page Run Storage Sense now to use the function then and there.

And if you want to get rid of more files to free up disk space, use the cleaning recommendations Feature under Storage Sense. When clicked, it will scan your system and recommend files for manual deletion, such as For example, temporary files, large or unused files, files synced to your cloud, and unused apps.

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Want to learn more about Windows 11? Try this biggest differences between Windows 10 and Windows 11. Also, These are the best Windows 11 features you need to know. And if you haven’t downloaded Windows 11 yet, Here’s what you need to do.