Software

How to use Storage Sense to clean up after installing the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update

The Windows 10 Fall Creators Update adds new space-saving features to Storage Sense--but there could be so much more. Here's a look at what it can, and can't, do.

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Image: iStock/LightFieldStudios

If you have downloaded and installed the Fall Creators Update, you know what a time-consuming process it is. But what you may not know is that during that time, the update process is dumping gigabytes of extraneous data on your hard disk and leaving it there—a little over 30 GB to be exact.

Fortunately, new features in Storage Sense can help you recover that wasted space. It can also clean up other wasted space on your hard disk. While this is a nice feature, I still have some complaints. Let's take a closer look.

Storage Sense version 1

Storage Sense made its debut in Windows 10 with the Creators Update in April 2017. In its first iteration, Storage Sense could delete leftover temporary files and empty the Recycle Bin, as shown in Figure A. Storage Sense could perform these operations automatically, with the switch set to On, or manually, if you clicked the Clean Now button.

Figure A

Figure A
The first version of Storage Sense could remove temporary files and empty the Recycle Bin.

Storage sense version 2

In the Fall Creators Update, Microsoft added two new capabilities to Storage Sense: It can now delete files in the Downloads folder that haven't changed in 30 days and it can remove the files left over after a major upgrade. Of course, Storage Sense can still delete leftover temporary files and empty the Recycle Bin.

SEE: 20 pro tips to make Windows 10 work the way you want (TechRepublic PDF)

To check out Storage Sense and its new features, access Settings from the Start menu. Then from within Settings, choose the System tile and select the Storage tab. In the Storage Sense section, click Change How We Free Up Space. These last steps are illustrated in Figure B.

Figure B

Figure B
Storage Sense can now delete previous versions of Windows after a major update.

If you turn the Storage Sense setting to On, it will automatically run in the background on a regular basis and clean up the items you selected. Alternatively, you can run the Storage Sense cleanup operation manually by selecting items and clicking the Clean Now button.

Under the Temporary Files heading, you'll find first three options I mentioned. The biggie, which I have highlighted in yellow, is the Delete Previous Versions Of Windows option. In the case of the Fall Creators Update, selecting this option will return the 30 GB of wasted space to your hard disk.

SEE: Desktop migration checklist (Tech Pro Research)

My complaint

The idea behind Storage Sense is to replace the Disk Cleanup tool, shown in Figure C, with a new modern Settings app. The Disk Cleanup tool has been around in the Windows operating system quite some time.

Figure C

Figure C
Disk Cleanup has been around for a long time.

While I appreciate the fact that Microsoft is working toward replacing old tools with new versions, I have to say that with Storage Sense version 2, I am again frustrated with Microsoft's half-baked approach. If the goal is to provide a new and easier way of cleaning up wasted space in Windows, why not give us everything at once?

SEE: .Net for Beginners (TechRepublic Academy)

After I saw the first iteration of Storage Sense, I was encouraged that Microsoft was finally working toward putting the Disk Cleanup tool out to pasture. I figured that this first iteration was a good start and I had high hopes that we would see a total replacement in the next version of Windows 10. I thought we would see all the features found in the Disk Cleanup tool in Storage Sense.

I know that Microsoft can do it. Just look at Windows Defender, which Microsoft completely revamped in the April Creators Update. For more details, see How to take advantage of the new Windows Defender Security Center.

Sure, it's nice to be able to configure Storage Sense to automatically clean up leftover temporary files, empty the Recycle Bin, remove old downloads, and clean up upgrade debris—but if I really want to clean up my hard disk, I still have to go to Disk Cleanup.

Table A shows all the things Disk Cleanup can find and eliminate from your hard disk.

Table A

Table A
Disk Cleanup can remove a lot of junk from your hard disk.

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What's your take?

Have you experimented with Storage Sense in the Fall Creators Update? If so, what do you think? Do you wish Microsoft had put all the cleanup options from the old Disk Cleanup tool into Storage sense? Share your thoughts with fellow TechRepublic members.

About Greg Shultz

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

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