How to Free Up Disk Space After Upgrading to Windows 11

If your disk space took a huge hit after upgrading to Windows 11, it’s not because your new operating system is bloated. Here’s why.

delete old backup windows files free up disk space windows 11

After upgrading to Windows 11, you may notice a spike in storage space usage. This is not because the new OS takes more space than Windows 10; instead, it’s likely due to older system backups that can take a fair amount of disk space.

You can safely delete the previous Windows installation and Windows update cleanup files to reclaim hard drive space. But there’s a caveat. Here we show you how to delete system files to free up disk space after upgrading to Windows 11.

1. How to Reclaim Hard Drive Space After a Windows 11 Upgrade via Settings

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As a recovery solution, Windows OS, during the upgrade, creates a backup of the current version. This is a safeguard feature, should you choose to fall back to the earlier version or the upgrade doesn’t go through successfully.

Related: How to Downgrade to Windows 10 From Windows 11

These files are stored in the Windows.old folder and automatically deleted after ten days of performing the upgrade. However, other Windows update files continue to live on as you install new updates.

If you are happy with your Windows 11 upgrade, you can safely delete these files to reclaim precious storage space. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Press Win + I to open Settings.
  2. In the System tab, scroll down and click on Storage. The system will perform a quick scan and show categories of files occupying the most space on your drive.
  3. Next, click on Temporary files. It consists of downloads, Windows update cleanup, temporary installation, and other junk files.
  4. Select the Previous Windows installations and Windows Update cleanup option.
  5. Next, unselect Downloads and other files. Some apps may require some files, so leave everything else unchecked.
  6. Verify your selection and click the Remove files button. Windows will clear all the backup Windows files instantly, releasing a few gigabytes of storage space. If you don’t see the released space immediately, perform a restart and check again.


Related: How to Clean Your Windows PC Using Command Prompt

Note that while these files are safe to delete, you cannot go back to the previous version after deleting them.

Next, head over to the C:UsersUsernameDownloads folder and look for large redundant files that you may have forgotten to delete. Alternatively, move your important files to another drive or partition to help optimize your primary drive.

2. How to Free Up Disk Space After a Windows 11 Upgrade via Disk Cleanup

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You can use the classic Disk Cleanup utility to free up space occupied by Windows backup and other temporary files. It is a handy utility to quickly scan and delete unnecessary system files.

  1. Press Win + S to open the Windows search.
  2. Type disk cleanup and open the app from the search result.
  3. Select the drive you want to scan, usually your boot drive, and OK.
  4. Click the Clean up system files button.
    clean up system files windows 11
  5. Again, select the drive to scan and click OK.
  6. Under Files to delete, select the Windows Update Cleanup and Previous Windows Installation options if available.
  7. Uncheck the Downloads option if available.
  8. Click OK and then click Delete Files to confirm the action. This is a permanent action and will permanently delete all the files.

That’s it. Disk Cleanup will delete the Windows update and other selected files freeing up your primary drive with more storage space.

Cleaning Up Junk Files After Windows 11 Upgrade

Performing a routine cleanup task can help you remove redundant files and reclaim a ton of precious storage space on your computer. Windows backup files are required for system recovery operations. However, if the upgrade is successful, and you are low on disk space, you can safely delete these files and make way for new files.

how-to-dual-boot-windows-10 (1)
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