In order for Windows to operate effectively, it necessitates the creation of temporary files and folders on the hard drive. However, a persistent issue with Windows is its tendency to neglect deleting these files and folders once they are no longer required, leading to a gradual accumulation of space on our drives. Consequently, it is crucial to familiarize ourselves with these folders and, more importantly, learn how to manually remove them.
Now, let’s discuss four folders that are highly likely to be present on your hard drive. These folders serve no practical purpose and merely consume valuable space, sometimes amounting to several gigabytes. Therefore, you can effortlessly eliminate them to reclaim that storage space.
The $GetCurrent folder serves as a storage location for Windows configuration files required during system update installations. Typically, once the update process is finalized, this folder is cleared out as the contained information becomes obsolete. However, there are instances where these files are not automatically deleted, resulting in a gradual consumption of significant space on the hard drive. Deleting this folder is not only safe but also beneficial for our computer.
Removing the $GetCurrent folder not only eliminates unnecessary files but also enhances computer performance by freeing up space for Windows and personal file storage. To initiate the deletion process, we first need to display hidden folders within the hard drive, as $GetCurrent is saved as a hidden folder. We can accomplish this by accessing the Ribbon bar and activating the visibility of hidden elements through the “View” tab.
Once this step is completed, the $GetCurrent folder should appear when we navigate to the C: drive, typically listed at the top. It is highly likely that this folder occupies a substantial amount of space on our hard drive. To determine its size, we can simply right-click on it and select the “Properties” option.
Now that we have identified the folder and its space consumption, we can proceed with its deletion. Windows 10 or Windows 11 will not hinder our ability to delete it, and we won’t encounter any permission issues. To delete the folder, we can either right-click on it and choose the “Delete” option from the context menu or directly select the folder and press the delete key on the keyboard.
$WINDOWS.~BT and $Windows.~WS folders
The $WINDOWS.~BT folder plays a crucial role in the successful upgrade of the operating system. It functions as a repository for all the Windows files that are replaced during the upgrade process. This allows us to revert the changes and restore the previous version in case any issues arise. Similarly, the $Windows.~WS folder is created during Windows updates and serves as a storage location for all the installation files necessary for the update. Both folders are essential for installing the latest version of the operating system. However, once the update is completed without any problems, these folders are no longer required.
Deleting these folders in the conventional manner (by right-clicking on them and choosing the delete option) can cause complications depending on the Windows version and system configuration. Microsoft configures Windows directories with special permissions to prevent unintended modifications.
To safely delete these files, it is recommended to use the Windows Disk Cleanup tool. We can access it by opening the “This PC” window on our desktop, navigating to the properties of the hard drive or SSD where Windows is installed, and then accessing the disk cleanup utility from there.
Before proceeding, it is important to click on the “Clean system files” option to open the Disk Cleanup tool with Administrator permissions, enabling it to delete unnecessary system elements. Once the new window of the tool is open, we need to select the following two options:
1. Windows update cleanup.
2. Previous installations of Windows.
Additionally, if desired, we can take this opportunity to delete other temporary files and junk from the operating system that are not necessary. This may include clearing temporary files or emptying the recycle bin, allowing us to perform a comprehensive cleaning in one go.
Upon accepting the selected options, Windows will begin the process of deleting the identified data.
Another approach to delete these files is by using another operating system, specifically a Linux distro loaded into RAM memory. This method allows us to bypass the permissions imposed by Microsoft on its own directories.
To accomplish this, we need to load the operating system into RAM and then open the Windows hard drive using the file explorer until we locate the target folders. Once found, we can right-click on them to access the contextual menu for deletion. Alternatively, we can use the delete key on the keyboard, similar to the process in Windows.
After successfully deleting the folders on the hard drive, we can proceed to restart the computer.
Windows.old is another folder commonly found on our computers. This folder is closely linked to the aforementioned ones, as it is responsible for preserving all the data from previous installations. It serves as a safeguard in case of data loss or any issues that may arise, allowing us to recover directly from this folder.
In some versions of Windows, the Windows.old folder is utilized to store the $WINDOWS.~BT and $WINDOWS.~WS folders within it. This arrangement helps maintain a slightly more organized hard drive, although it still occupies unnecessary space, often totaling 10 gigabytes or more.
The process for deleting this folder is the same as deleting the previous two. To accomplish this, we need to open the properties window of the hard drive, access the cleaner, specifically the system file cleaner, and then select the option “Previous Windows installations.” Finally, we can proceed with the cleaning process to remove the folder and its associated data.
Once the deletion process is completed, the folder should no longer exist, and all the space it previously occupied will be reclaimed and available again.
If we have access to a Linux distribution, such as Ubuntu Live, we can employ a similar method as described in the previous step. By utilizing a Linux environment loaded into RAM, we can forcefully delete this folder without being restricted by Windows permissions. This approach allows us to efficiently free up the occupied space.
After performing the deletion, when we log back into Windows, the storage space previously occupied by these folders will be released, and we will have the freedom to utilize it for any purpose we desire.