How To Clean Hard Drives In Windows 7

Martin Brinkmann
Apr 11, 2010
Updated • Dec 14, 2016
Windows, Windows 7

When it comes to keeping the computer in shape, one of the things that you should do regularly is remove temporary files and data that you no longer need. This frees up storage, and may remove traces from the system as well.

This can be done in Windows 7 with the help of third party tools like CCleaner which have been designed for that exact purpose, or by using native Windows 7 tools to delete the data.

This guide details how to clean the hard drives in Windows 7  using the operating system's Disk Cleanup tool. The process does not take longer than a minute and can be performed once a week or whenever it seems necessary.

It should be noted that programs like CCleaner handle additional temporary files and data that the standard disk cleanup tool in Windows 7 ignores. It might make sense in sevearl situations to use such a program but there might be situations where this is not possible. And it is of course always good to know how this is done without third party software.

Disk Cleanup on Windows 7

The easiest way to access Disk Cleanup is to enter cleanup in the Windows 7 start menu search and run box. This should display Disk Cleanup as one of the programs found on the computer system.

disk cleanup

A dialog window is displayed to select the drive that you want cleaned. Disk Cleanup can clean one drive at a time, but it is most effective when you select the drive Windows is installed on.

disk cleanup

The Disk Cleanup window is displayed afterwards. Available for selection are for instance files in the Recycle Bin, Temporary Internet Files, Thumbnails or Offline Webpages.

Each entry with a checkmark will be cleaned by clicking on the OK button. The operation can also be canceled by clicking the Cancel button.

You may want to click on "clean up system files" before you customize the selection. This enables additional options, such as the removal of update files that are no longer needed.

The following options are provided currently by Disk Cleanup:

  • Clear Windows Defender data.
  • Remove Windows upgrade log files.
  • Remove downloaded program files.
  • Remove temporary Internet files.
  • Clear Offline webpages.
  • Clear System error memory dump and minidump files.
  • Remove Windows Error Reporting files.
  • Delete delivery optimization files.
  • Clear the recycle bin.
  • Clear temporary files.
  • Clear cached thumbnails.
  • Delete the user file history.

Clearing System Restore and Shadow Copies

The hard drive selection screen will be displayed again and afterwards the Disk Cleanup window. The difference this time is that a More Options tab is available in that window which can be used to remove programs that are no longer used and more importantly to free up disk space by removing system restore and shadow copies (with a click on more options).

clean hard drives

The last option will remove all but the last system restore point which is still enough to restore the operating system. This option alone can free up Gigabytes of memory on the selected hard drive.

One interesting feature of the Disk Cleanup tool is that it can remove update files that are no longer required. This is for instance the case after installing a service pack for the operating system.

This is all there is to know about manual cleaning up the hard drives in Windows 7. Not as effective as  CCleaner but with options that CCleaner does not support.

Closing Words

Disk Cleanup is a useful tool, especially after installing Windows upgrades as you can remove Gigabytes of space from the system usually afterwards. It is recommended to wait one week or longer before you delete those files though, as they are your only means of restoring the old version if things don't work properly (besides backups).

How To Clean Hard Drives In Windows 7
Article Name
How To Clean Hard Drives In Windows 7
How to use Disk Cleaner, an application that is part of the Windows operating system, to remove temporary files from the system to free up disk space.
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  1. Dan Donx said on January 15, 2023 at 10:29 am

    What mental age of reader are you targeting with the first sentence? 10?

    Why not write an article on how to *avoid* upgrading from W10 to W11. Analogous to those like me who avoided upgrading from 7 to 10 for as long as possible.

    If your paymaster Microsoft permits it, of course.

  2. Dexter said on January 15, 2023 at 11:14 am

    5. Rufus
    6. Ventoy

    PS. I hate reading these “SEO optimized” articles.

    1. cdr said on January 15, 2023 at 3:32 pm

      I used Rufus to create an installer for a 6th gen intel i5 that had MBR. It upgraded using Setup. No issues except for Win 11 always prompting me to replace my local account. Still using Win 10 Pro on all my other PCs to avoid the bullying.

  3. sv said on January 15, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    bit pointless to upgrade for the sake of upgrading as you never know when you’ll get locked out because ms might suddenly not provide updates to unsupported systems.

    ps…. time travelling?
    written. Jan 15, 2023
    Updated • Jan 13, 2023

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 16, 2023 at 5:49 am

      This happens when you schedule a post in WordPress and update it before setting the publication date.

  4. Anonymous said on January 16, 2023 at 8:24 am

    Anyone willing to downgrade to this awful OS must like inflicting themselves with harm.

  5. basingstoke said on January 16, 2023 at 11:18 am

    I have become convinced now that anybody who has no qualms with using Windows 11/10 must fit into one of the following brackets:

    1) Too young to remember a time before W10 and W11 (doesn’t know better)

    2) Wants to play the latest games on their PC above anything else (or deeply needs some software which already dropped W7 support)

    3) Doesn’t know too much about how computers work, worried that they’d be absolutely lost and in trouble without the “”latest security””

    4) Microsoft apologist that tries to justify that the latest “features” and “changes” are actually a good thing, that improve Windows

    5) Uses their computer to do a bare minimum of like 3 different things, browse web, check emails, etc, so really doesn’t fuss

    Obviously that doesn’t cover everyone, there’s also the category that:

    6) Actually liked W7 more than 10, and held out as long as possible before switching, begrudgingly uses 10 now

    Have I missed any group off this list?

    1. Heinz Strunk said on September 19, 2023 at 3:57 pm

      You have missed in this group just about any professional user that uses business software like CAD programs or ERP Programs which are 99% of all professional users from this list.

      Linux doesn’t help anyone who is not a linux kid and apple is just a fancy facebook machine.

  6. ilev said on August 24, 2023 at 7:34 pm

    Microsoft has removed KB5029351 update

    1. EP said on August 24, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      only from windows update though
      KB5029351 is still available from the ms update catalog site

  7. Anonymous said on August 24, 2023 at 11:05 pm

    1. This update is labaled as PREVIEW if it causes issues to unintelligent people, then they shouldn’t have allowed Preview updates ot install.

    2. I have installed it in a 11 years old computer, and no problems at all.

    3. Making a big drama over a bluescreen for an updated labeled as preview is ridiculous.

    This is probably another BS internet drama where people ran programs and scripts that modified the registry until they broke Windows, just for removing stuff that they weren’t even using just for the sake of it.
    Maybe people should stop playing geeks and actually either use Windows 10 or Windows 11, but don’t try to modify things just for the sake of it.

    Sometimes removing or stopping things (like defender is a perfect example) only need intelligence, not scripts or 3rd party programs that might mess with windows.

  8. john said on August 24, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    Windows 11 was a pointless release, it was just created because some of the Windows team wanted to boost sales with some sort of new and improved Windows 10. Instead, Microsoft cannot support one version well let alone two.

    1. John G. said on August 25, 2023 at 12:08 pm

      Windows 11 is the worst ugly shame by Microsoft ever. They should release with every new W11 version a complete free version of Starallback inside just to make this sh** OS functionally again.

  9. EP said on August 25, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released a statement regarding the “unsupported processor” blue screen error for their boards using Intel 600/700 series chipsets & to avoid the KB5029351 Win11 update:–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–Error-Message-of-Windows-11-Update-KB5029351-Preview-142215

  10. EP said on August 29, 2023 at 7:32 pm

    check out the following recent articles:

    Neowin – Microsoft puts little blame on its Windows update after UNSUPPORTED PROCESSOR BSOD bug:

    BleepingComputer – Microsoft blames ‘unsupported processor’ blue screens on OEM vendors:

  11. Leonard Britvolli said on August 30, 2023 at 10:33 pm

    While there may be changes or updates to the Windows 10 Store for Business and Education in the future, it is premature to conclude that it will be discontinued based solely on rumors.

  12. sembrador said on September 5, 2023 at 9:32 pm

    My advice, I left win 15 years ago. Now I’m a happy linux user (linuxmint) but there is Centos, Fedora, Ubuntu depending on your needs.

  13. EP said on September 6, 2023 at 11:55 am

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released new BIOS/firmware updates for their Intel 600 & 700 series motherboards to fix the “UNSUPPORTED_PROCESSOR” problem (Sept. 6):–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–caused-BSOD-on-MSI-s-Intel-700-and-600-Series-Motherboards-142277

  14. Raphael Benzo said on September 24, 2023 at 9:52 pm

    I try to disable the Diagnostics Tracking Service (Connected Devices Platform User Services) but it wont let me disable it, any help will be greatly appreciated.
    Tank you for your help

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