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How to get a lot of hard disk space on autopilot

You know how it happens: you wake up in the morning, and then you turn on your computer. All of the sudden, a pop-up that highlights an important software update, be it for Windows or any other application, shows up. You'd like to install it, of course, but the moment you start the installation process, you are greeted with a "Windows needs more space" error message.

So, how do you get more space? Windows' Disk Cleanup tool can be of help, but it's not that easy to use, especially if you aren't a computer geek. Should you delete the downloaded applications and the temporary Internet files? Should you keep the "Offline webpages" data or not? Should you remove the applications that aren't used frequently, as instructed by the tool? What about system restore data? Should you keep it or not? And if the answer is affirmative, how many copies should you keep? As you can guess, questions like these aren't always easy to answer.

Fortunately, the recent Windows 10 April 2018 update has added a key feature that helps you regain hard disk space on autopilot. It's something that several third-party companies/applications have been successfully doing for many years now, but (for compatibility reasons) I will always prefer an integrated tool, which also happens to be 100% free.

The April 2018 update should already be installed on your system; check your Windows update settings if it isn't there. If the update is installed, your PC should display a Windows version of 1803 or newer. To verify it, go to Windows' Settings -> About tab. If you've got an earlier Windows build, though, you should get the most recent update, and then go to Settings -> System -> Storage, where you will discover the new "Storage Sense" feature.

Click any drive letter to discover the amount of space that is used by the OS, the various apps, your documents, etc. You can click any category to see the actual applications that are using that space, and go as deep as you want to. This makes it easy to determine the names of the software apps which should be uninstalled in order to get more hard disk space.

However, by turning Storage Sense on, you will be able to automate the job. You can have the tool take care of this for you on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, for example. Storage Sense will automatically delete temporary data: files that have been stored in the recycle bin for more than 30 days, files in your "downloads" folder that haven't been used for 60 days, and so on. Each schedule is fully configurable, of course, and Windows can even take these decisions for you, in case that you don't want to mess things up.

You can also delete earlier Windows patches, which are known to use massive amounts of hard disk space. Finally, you can click the "Free up space now" link, which will take care of all the tasks right then, helping you regain enough space to (hopefully) apply the desired software patch.