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Find large files on your hard drive to free up space

Find large files on your hard drive to free up space
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Large files on your hard drive?

Hard drive space can fill up fast, and if you don’t know where to look, it can be difficult to work out precisely where all that space is going. There are so many simple tricks to find out large sized files without wasting your time.If you need to work out how your disks are already full, here’s how to find out what’s taking up space on your hard drive.


With modern laptops commonly coming with small-capacity SSDs and video files ever increasing in quality and size, your hard drive tends to get filled up rather quickly.

However, it can often be hard to figure out where all those gigabytes went. If you need to de-clutter your disks and don’t know where to start, here’s how to find large files taking up all that space on your hard drive.

You can also find out how to get more storage space on Android, or if your PC is running slowly, coax some more speed out of it with our guide on 5 great ways to tidy up your PC or laptop.

 To begin with, check your backups. If you use backup software, check the folder where backups are placed and if they’re occupying too much space, delete old versions you no longer need. You may have to delete the files through the backup software’s interface.

The same goes for iPhone / iPad backups. These can create enormous files which occupy 10s of gigabytes. Open iTunes, click the tiny drop-down menu at the top left, choose Preferences, then click on Devices.

You will see a list of backups, although not how much space they’re occupying. Aim to keep only the most recent one for each device, but if you find even these are taking up too much space, delete them and make a fresh backup from your device.

Another place to check is your Videos folder, and any on-demand video software such as BBC iPlayer. Delete downloaded videos you don’t need, and copy personal videos to an external hard drive.

How to find large files on your hard drive

If you’ve followed the advice above, but don’t know where else to look, you can find the biggest individual files on your hard drive by opening File Explorer (Windows Explorer in previous versions) and typing ‘size:gigantic’ into the search bar.

This will bring up a list of any fine over 128MB in size, which you can then look through to find any large, extraneous files such as movie downloads, outdated drivers and ISO images. However, always be careful and make sure you know exactly what it is your deleting, as some files could stop certain programs from running if removed.

How to find out what's taking up space on your hard drive

How to find out what’s taking up space on your hard drive: finding large folders

Of course, sometimes it’s not large individual files that take up room, but rather folders full of lots of small files. In this case, the best option is to download a small third-party program that scans your computer to inform you which files and folders are the biggest offenders.

Our favorite application for this task is the free program, SpaceSniffer. It doesn’t require installation, so just run the program and it will scan your chosen HDD, and then visually display your disk information using rectangular boxes; the bigger the box, the bigger the file or folder.

You can also customize the view to show more detail, or double-click each box to expand it and find out which files or folders within that box are taking up the most space.

Once you’ve ascertained which files and folders are taking up excess space on your disk, you can delete the ones you no longer need using File Explorer.

How to find out what’s taking up space on your hard drive: Delete old Windows installations and temporary files

If you’ve upgraded from an older version of Windows, run the built-in Cleanup application (search for it in the Start menu, or in Windows 8, the Start screen) and click the Clean up system files button. This will highlight space used by an old version of Window and give you the option to delete it. The main Cleanup tool can also delete temporary and cached files to free up yet more space.

If you know any other ways feel free to share them in the comments  😀

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