Clean Disk: Remove Junk Files in Windows 11!

Want to clean the disk from junk files using Windows 11 integrated utilities? You’re in luck! Our comprehensive guide will walk you through expert strategies and techniques to successfully remove junk files and optimize disk space with Windows 11 utilities. Say goodbye to clutter and enjoy a smoother computing experience!

Clean Disk: Remove Junk Files in Windows 11!

When your computer runs out of free disk space, it affects its performance almost inevitably. The less free space your hard disk has, the higher are the chances that some programs will take more time to start, and others will even refuse to open. As a rule, these days most computers tend to have their Windows installed onto an SSD of a moderate capacity, and sooner or later, its free disk space begins to dwindle to dangerous limits.

There are lots of third-party tools created to clean your hard disks from unnecessary files, but the integrated utilities can still handle this task pretty well, too. Similarly to previous versions of this operating system, Windows 11 features a bunch of integrated disk cleaning utilities.

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🧹 How to Clean the Disk from Junk Files with Windows 11 Integrated Utilities 🧹

🧹 How to Clean the Disk from Junk Files with Windows 11 Integrated Utilities 🧹

Clean junk files from Windows 11 settings

You can access the first method of disk cleaning in Windows 11 through the Settings app.

To open it, click on Start – Settings – Storage.

Start - Settings - Storage

In the window that opens, look to the right to see the information on the amount of free and used space. Below, you will see the list of categories that use your disk space.

Categories that use your disk space

When you expand a category by clicking on it – for example, “Temporary files” – you will see what exactly is included into this category and how much disk space it occupies. In this category, files can be removed. To view the complete list of all categories, click on “Show more categories”.

Removing temporary files

In the “Storage management” section below, you can run disk cleanup operations. The Storage Sense feature lets you configure automatic disk cleanup, remove temporary files and so on. When you open this section, you can schedule when files are deleted from certain folders. At the bottom of the page, you can find the button “Run Storage Sense now”.

Storage Sense

In the previous window, you can also check “Cleanup recommendations”. It contains information about files in your Downloads folder, Recycle Bin folder, temporary files, large or unused files, unused apps and files that you have synced to the cloud services. Select the files that need to be removed and click the “Clean up” button below.

Cleanup recommendations

The features listed in Windows 11 storage settings are pretty basic but really useful, especially for beginners.

In addition, there is a considerable advantage in comparison with third-party disk cleanup software: there is no way that you could harm the operating system, as it is absolutely safe to delete the files suggested for removal. The only possible exception is the contents of your Downloads folder – if you keep something important there.

Remove unnecessary files with Disk Cleanup utility

Along with the new storage cleaning options, Windows 11 also inherited the integrated disk cleanup utility from its previous versions. This tool will help you clean much more junk files than you would remove with the Storage features in the Settings.

Open the Start menu and search for Disk Cleanup. In the window that opens, select the drive to be cleaned and click OK.

Disk Cleanup utility

In the next window, you will see the list of files that can be removed: usually, they don’t take up much space. But if you click on the option below – “Clean up system files” – the Drive Selection window appears again, and another round of scanning begins: this time, the list of files and the amount of data that can be removed will be bigger.

Clean up system files

Check the boxes for file types you want to clean and click OK. Wait until the cleanup process is complete.

In the tab “More Options” you will be able to free up more disk space by removing unnecessary programs or system restore points (except for the latest one) – and do it by clicking on the Cleanup button next to the corresponding category.

Remove Programs & Features

The Disk Cleanup feature is similar to Storage Sense, and it is as safe as that; it never suggests to delete files that are required for normal work of your operating system. Also, you can run this utility in an advanced mode which allows to run a deeper cleanup and remove even more files.

To start the utility in this mode, open the Run window and type the following command:

%systemroot%\system32\cmd.exe /c cleanmgr /sageset:65535 & cleanmgr /sagerun:65535

Run Disk Cleanup with an extended file cleanup list

If this method doesn’t work, run this command from the Command Prompt as administrator. This will show you the extended file cleanup list.

Advanced disk cleanup mode

The only disadvantage is that you can’t see how much space is taken up by files in every category. Also, such items as “Device Driver Packages” and “Delivery Optimization Files” are missing, although they are displayed when you run cleanup in the basic mode.

Clean old drivers manually

If your hard disk is very low on space, you can try to free up a few gigabytes manually - by cleaning the folder “FileRepository” where device drivers are stored. Integrated utilities don’t remove old or unused drivers from this folder. If the total folder size is more than 2 GB, it seems a good idea to delete some drivers.

Here is the path to the folder:


FileRepository folder

It contains copies of device driver packages that are ready for installation.

When the operating system updates device drivers automatically, or when you do it manually, older versions of drivers are kept in this folder just in case you want to roll back if new drivers cause any issues. That is convenient - but it also takes up your disk space. In theory, you can remove everything from the FileRepository folder, but in reality, this may cause problems and it’s not so safe as you may think.

To clean up some drivers without regretting that, you have to understand what things can be removed safely. For starters, let’s list the drivers that are stored in this folder.

Launch the Command prompt as Administrator and type the following command:

pnputil.exe /e > c:\drivers.txt

Create a file with a list of drivers

This command will create a file on Disk C with a list of driver packages.

List of installed drivers

After you check that list, you can remove unnecessary drivers with this command:

pnputil.exe /d oemNN.inf

where NN is the number of the driver file as listed in the document drivers.txt

Remove unnecessary drivers

When you try to remove a driver which is currently in use, you will see this message saying that the delete operation has failed. So the best approach is to start your cleanup operations by removing old graphics drivers, and old drivers for your peripheral devices. If necessary, you can always check the current driver version in the Device Manager window by clicking “Properties” and then “Driver”.

Vladimir Artiukh

Author: , Technical Writer

Vladimir Artiukh is a technical writer for Hetman Software, as well as the voice and face of their English-speaking YouTube channel, Hetman Software: Data Recovery for Windows. He handles tutorials, how-tos, and detailed reviews on how the company’s tools work with all kinds of data storage devices.

Oleg Afonin

Editor: , Technical Writer

Oleg Afonin is an expert in mobile forensics, data recovery and computer systems. He often attends large data security conferences, and writes several blogs for such resources as, Elcomsoft and Habr. In addition to his online activities, Oleg’s articles are also published in professional magazines. Also, Oleg Afonin is the co-author of a well-known book, Mobile Forensics - Advanced Investigative Strategies.

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