Why is my HDD filling up rapidly for absolutely no reason?

By ivan.diskin | January 17, 2019 |

greater than 6 minutes

We will show you easy ways how to fix C drive filling up for no reason in Windows 10 without losing valuable data. The Methods we provide to you in this article will also make your computer run faster and smoother. Now, these methods will work on any version of Windows you are using, and even if you are not running out of disk space yet, it’s recommended that you perform this process every once in a while.

Solution 1. Delete temporary files

First, we are going to run some simple commands to review temporary files in different locations in your system. To do that, use the following instructions:

  • Click on the Start or Home button and type Run in the Search box.
  • Now, click on Run in the search results. In the Run search box, type %temp% and hit Enter. This will show the temporary files created by your applications.
  • So, here select all files in this folder and then right-click and select Delete to remove these files. If you get some notification saying that certain files cannot be deleted or asking you want to try again, just skip it and continue with the process.
  • Next, go back to the Run app and type “tmp” (without quotes) and hit Enter. This will show Windows temporary files again.
  • Here, select all files and hit Delete to remove them as well. If you find a message saying some files in the folder cannot be deleted, just skip it and proceed.
  • Go to Run one more time and type “prefetch” (without quotes) and hit Enter. Here again, select all files and press Delete to remove them.
  • Now, go to the Recycle bin and delete all the files that are there to permanently free your system of those files and free up more disk space.

Solution 2. Delete old installation files

The second step will be to delete old Windows installation files. Most often, when you upgrade from one version of Windows to another, the old installation files accumulate in your system. To delete your older Windows install files, use the following steps:

  • Click on the Start or Home button and type “storage” (without quotes).
  • Click Storage from the search results and then click on This PC, which is your C Drive.
  • Wait for the storage usage page to load. On this page, you should find where it says, “temporary files” and click on it. At the bottom of the list, you should find previous versions of Windows. You will notice that the old Windows installation files can occupy quite a substantial amount of disk space.
  • Select them and click on Remove files to free up disk space. Sometimes, you may not see this option in your temporary files if you have made a fresh Windows installation or if it’s been a long time since you upgraded from one version of Windows to another. This is because Windows automatically deletes old installation files after a while. But if you are running out of disk space, you can delete these files manually using this method.

Solution 3. Delete the SoftwareDistribution folder

The third step is to clear the SoftwareDistribution\Download folder. This folder normally stores automatic Windows update files. So, once the files have finished downloading in the background, the updates are installed on your PC. However, these temporary files often remain in the download folder even after Windows has already installed the downloaded updates. To delete the SoftwareDistribution folder, use the following steps:

  • Click on the folder icon on your taskbar to open File Explorer.
  • Click on This PC, then open the drive where you have your Windows files  (usually, the C Drive).
  • Open the Windows folder by double-clicking on it, then search for a folder named SoftwareDistribution.
  • Locate the Download folder. Double-click to open it.
  • There, you should see all the temporary Windows update files.
  • Here, again select all the files and hit Delete to remove them.
  • Now, to complete this, you may need to have an administrator account. So, ensure you are logged on as an administrator while implementing this scheme.
  • Make sure you go to the Recycle Bin and delete the files that are present there after this process.

Solution 4. Perform a disk cleanup

The fourth step is to perform a disk cleanup. Now, it is advisable to take the previous steps presented in this article before doing a disk cleanup, especially the third step, which is to delete the temporary files from the Download folder in your SoftwareDistribution folder. This is important because sometimes there could be a Windows Update conflict that may cause the disk cleanup utility to take a much longer time to run, and in some cases, it could get stuck and keep running indefinitely. So, it’s advisable to clear the SoftwareDistribution folder before running the disk cleanup tool.

Now, use the following steps to run the disk cleanup utility:

  • Click on the Start or Home button and type “disk cleanup” (without quotes).
  • Then, click on Disk Cleanup in the search results. You should see a dialog box asking you to select the disk you want to clean up.
  • Here, you should select the drive on which your operating system is installed. Usually, it is the C Drive.
  • Click OK, then wait for the Disk Cleanup utility to run for some time. It will notify you about the amount of space that the process will free on the drive.
  • So, you should go through the list of files you are about to delete and see the corresponding space each file or folder occupies on the disk. Often, most of the disk space is occupied by temporary files, and since you don’t need these files anymore, select them all, then hit OK.
  • Now, the utility will ask you if you are sure you want to permanently delete these files.
  • Select Delete files and wait for the process to complete.
  • With that done, you should run the disk cleanup utility once again and wait for it to complete its work.
  • Now, you will notice that it says you can still free up some space on your drive. With the initial run, it frees up some space. Now that you have run the Disk Cleanup utility, you will notice that some of the files are still not deleted and occupy space.

We are not sure why Windows doesn’t clean up all the selected files and recover your disk space at once, but we observed that by running this tool multiple times, more disk space gets freed up until you notice no further release in disk space. That would mean that all your disk space is now recovered. This can take up to four iterations to recover all the disk space with this process.

Solution 5. Clear your browsing data

The final step for this tutorial will be to clear your browser data. Although this method is often ignored, it could go a long way not only in freeing up your disk space also in speeding up your browser. To clear your browsing data, use the following steps:

  • Open your browser (in my case, it is Google Chrome), then press the keyboard combination Ctrl + H to reveal your browser history.
  • Then on this left pane, find where it says, “Clear browsing data”. Click on it, and a dialog box should pop up.
  • Here, click on the Advanced tab, and then you will see a list of data that you can delete using this method.
  • First, you should set the Time range as all-time from this drop-down.
  • Here, you select all the data you want to clear and click on Clear data to remove them.

Pro tip:

We always advise our readers to be aware of viruses. Sometimes, when your computer is infected with a virus, this can result in the rapid filling of your hard drive. Viruses can cause a wide array of problems to your computer: from system crashes and loss of important information to hackers stealing your sensitive information. That is why we recommend that you download and install Auslogics Anti-Malware. This tool will protect your system at all times. You will be able to browse the internet in a safe environment. You can also set regular scans of your computer to make sure that all the viruses are eliminated.

We hope that his article has resolved the issue you are having with your hard drive. Share it with others who have similar problems.

We appreciate your ideas and comments, and we are ready to answer all your questions regarding this topic.

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