Is there almost no free space left on the drive? Or is it disappearing from day to day, which a glance at Windows Explorer reveals – and you want to put a stop to it? The magic word here is: clean up. If you do this regularly, you will only have to dispose of small amounts of rubbish in your home in the same way as you would with a vacuum cleaner – the situation is different if cleaning is done less frequently. In the latter case, larger volumes are to be removed. It is up to your preference how often you wave the virtual cleaning rag. Good to know: Cautious contemporaries, which often include IT experts, often advise against external tuning tools.
Windows’ own cleaning utilities, on the other hand, are okay, they say. Because with on-board solutions, you won’t damage anything when digitally scrubbing Windows or the drive. And in fact you tackle data ballast conservatively, especially with the disk cleanup embedded in the OS.
The application does not usually have a destructive effect, and Windows usually runs flawlessly after applying the solution. However, the same is often true of third-party system optimizers: if there aren’t too many, use them judiciously (don’t dismiss all the suggested optimization operations unchecked), and ideally have a backup of files captured in the back-hand, pretty much nothing can go wrong. A particularly all-encompassing backup before performing PC tuning is mostly for the paranoid. If you want to do without it, you are welcome to do so. Because if you free up memory on the PC, the ballast in question is swept away here, but the content on your external backup disk (if not compressed, until it is deleted) needs the same capacity.
CCleaner (functionally replaces Disk Cleanup)
Wise Disk Cleaner (similar to CCleaner, but also defragments and trims)
Go to Disk Cleanup in Windows
Since Windows 10 1703, Windows has integrated a disk cleaning function in the Settings app. The related, classic disk cleanup was already used in the days of Windows XP. Microsoft is no longer developing it, but it is in the Redmond-based provider’s operating systems up to the current Windows 11 22H2 (first feature update for the Windows 10 successor). The settings app is not for everyone, some like the control panel more, but it has lost its formerly lavish scope functionally in the context of feature updates for Windows 10 and Windows 11. The Disk Cleanup ranks in terms of “historical”, but is currently still of high quality and for classic operation fans far better than the app equivalent. Because with it you effectively tackle data that is wasted on storage space.
Below we describe a general way to get this garbage collector started in your operating system. What follows is a true myth on the subject and a new fact in Windows 11 22H2. Because the disk cleanup has also lost something in Windows 11, not necessarily in terms of functions, but in terms of relevance – with regard to a somewhat less prominent placement in remote operating system corners.
In the following articles you will find in-depth help and suggestions for cleanmgr:
Start disk cleanup via drive properties
Alternatively, call up Disk Cleanup by entering its name in the Windows Start menu and clicking on the appropriate search hit. Or you can take a more pragmatic, more memorable route than the cleanmgr command prompt: Open Windows Explorer with Windows-E and right-click one of your drives.
Then call “Properties” in the context menu, alternatively you can do this by double-clicking on one of the memory entries while holding down the Alt key. In the window that opens, click on “Clean” on the “General” tab.
Disk Cleanup loads immediately and scans the drive whose properties you previously visited. Some users implicitly assume that in order to optimize a memory area, you have to call up exactly the properties of that particular area. As mentioned, there is a click on “Cleanup” on the “General” tab for a disk cleanup. To defragment, however, switch to the “Tools” property tab and click on “Defragment now” under Windows 7 or on “Optimize” since Windows 8/8.1 (and under Windows 10, 11). Let’s talk about the myth mentioned above in the article: It is even true in the context of disk cleanup.
In fact, drive cleaning refers to that disk section whose properties you previously looked up. When defragmenting, the myth that you have to switch to the appropriate properties (as some web instructions incorrectly suggest) is false: When you click the Defrag button mentioned, the on-board defragmenter dfrgui.exe (has been around since Vista) is always started. and the upper partition listed in it is marked here. This is not necessarily the one that matches the properties window previously in your care. It can (!) be the same drive if you opened the C: properties and the dfrgui.exe interface lists C: at the top; it doesn’t have to (if you have gone to the “Properties” of another drive).
“Clean” button abolished, “Details” fills the breach
A word about the “Clean” button under “General”, see the properties of your drives: This button is available up to and including Windows 11 21H2 (first release of Windows 11). Windows 11 22H2 marks the first feature update for Windows 11 and turns things on their head. So “Clean” is renamed “Details” here. You no longer use this to call up cleanmgr.exe, but the settings app and its cleaning ambitions. Depending on the properties dialog, the application selects a specific drive.
On Windows 7/8.1/10 and Windows 11 21H2, a registry entry specified what should open when you click “Clean”:
In this registration database path there is an entry “(Default)” which is defined as path %SystemRoot%System32cleanmgr.exe /D %c contains. The entry does exist on Windows 11 22H2 systems as well, but its content is irrelevant to the new “Details” button.