Windows 10 Disk Cleanup includes file compression option

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 18, 2014
Updated • Jul 5, 2017
Windows, Windows 10

It is quite easy to fill up hard drives or partitions with data. This is true for Solid State Drives which are blazing fast but don't come close to the storage that platter-based hard drives offer but also for traditional hard drives.

Programs such as CCleaner or the native Windows tool Disk Cleanup help somewhat by offering to remove temporary data or data that is usually not needed from the system to free up disk space.

It is possible to free up Gigabytes of space this way. The Disk Cleanup tool for example can free up quite a bit of space after the installation of system updates, new service packs or the upgrade to a new version of Windows.

While it is suggested to make sure everything works before you run the operation, as you cannot go back afterwards anymore, it is an effective method to free up space on a system that is running stable.

Disk Cleanup is part of the Windows 10 operating system as well and while it works similar to previous iterations of the tool, a new option has been added by Microsoft in the latest version.

disk cleanup compress

It includes an option to compress the system now. Disk compression works only on NTFS drives and uses the same compression feature that you can run manually on folders or files of the system.

As is the case with this type of compression, it offers advantages but also disadvantages. It should be largely beneficial on systems with fast processors regardless of hard drive speed. It may slow things down, when it comes to file loading times especially, on systems with slow processors on the other hand.

Compression works well on files that are not yet compressed. Plain text documents for example while mp3 or zip archives yield little to no benefit.

Disk Cleanup and compression

To make use of the feature do the following:

  1. Tap on the Windows-key and type Disk Cleanup or cleanmgr.exe and select the Disk Cleanup result from the list.
  2. Select the drive (c:) that you want to clean.
  3. It may take a while before the interface is displayed.
  4. Click on the "Clean up system files" button at the bottom of the window.
  5. Select drive c: again.
  6. Scroll down until you find the new system compression option. It is disabled by default.


While it may be tempting to free up Gigabytes of space using the option, it is important to remember that you have no control over the feature other than to turn it on or off.

Windows does not list the files that it will compress which may result in files being compressed that should not be compressed in first place.

It is usually better to compress files manually using the option.  To do so right-click on a file or folder in Windows Explorer and select properties from the context menu.

Switch to the general tab when the properties window opens and click on the advanced button there. All that is left then is to check the "compress contents to save disk space" button.

Windows 10 Disk Cleanup includes file compression option
Article Name
Windows 10 Disk Cleanup includes file compression option
The Windows 10 Disk Cleanup tool contains an option to compress files on the system to free up disk space. Find out why you should or should not use it.
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  1. Anonymous said on October 17, 2017 at 7:52 am

    Please Help! My dog ate my computer chips

  2. Guides Beat said on December 30, 2015 at 7:43 pm

    My Windows 10 System drive is full. I have tried CCleaner and Disk cleanup but it becomes full again after some time. Please help me solve this problem.

  3. Bo said on November 28, 2015 at 10:56 am

    I have never been a windows enthusiast but this time I would like stay with it but I would like to have a Linux partition which ASUS make it hard to boot. Windows 10 is hard to shrink and a lot lot of programs are hard to delete.

  4. PhoneyVirus said on February 21, 2015 at 2:13 am

    Compress files in Windows XP can be removed from the registry, there’s skipping it when you run cleanmgr, I hated that option so much. Like to point out in the rundown above on how to get there “Clean up system files” button at the bottom of the window will only be there when you have User Account Control enabled, something that gets disabled before I even install the first driver.

    Thanks for Tip Martin didn’t noticed when I was in there, think I need to slowdown a little, Thanks

  5. itechtics said on November 19, 2014 at 6:37 am

    Compression may not be a good idea in some conditions like when you’re running SQL Server databases from the system drive. I had some problems due to compression on the database.

  6. Ross Presser said on November 18, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    I am certain I remember “Compress files” being part of the Disk Cleanup routine for some previous version of Windows, like maybe Windows 2000 or 2003.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on November 18, 2014 at 5:05 pm

      Yes Microsoft removed that option I think in Vista but I could be wrong ;)

      1. Olly D said on November 18, 2014 at 10:42 pm

        Pretty sure you’re right. After XP it was ditched, and that made me happy.

        I used to remove the option from disk cleanup entirely with a registry edit so clueless users with good intentions didn’t make their slow XP machines run even slower. On the plus side, you could undo the compression if you wanted to.

        Hopefully a similar modification will be possible, especially if they backport this change to old versions of windows.

  7. Dwight Stegall said on November 18, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    I don’t see a point in allowing that many files on the main drive. The more you have the slower your computer is.

    I keep all of my files on a separate partition.

    1. Doc said on November 22, 2014 at 11:57 pm

      I’ve been partitioning my drive(s) for years, simply because my collection of portable apps and games (mainly from can survive formatting C: and reinstalling. However, you’re not likely to see a speed benefit on your system partition unless it reaches around 80% full, at which point NTFS drives sometimes see slowdowns….although I’ve never heard *why* this happens.

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on November 18, 2014 at 2:58 pm

      You may not have a choice under certain conditions.

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