File cleanup

How to delete files older than X days automatically on Windows 10

You can free up space and keep things organize by only deleting files that are older than a certain number of days in any folder — Here's how to do it.

Delete older than files on Windows 10

On Windows 10, you can use Command Prompt and Task Scheduler to automatically delete files older than a certain number of days to free up space and keep your files organized.

The Settings app includes Storage sense, a feature that runs automatically when running low on storage to free up space. Alongside the ability to delete temporary files, you can also enable the feature to delete files that have been in the recycle bin or Downloads folder that haven’t changed in the last 30 days. However, the feature is limited and doesn’t offer an option to monitor additional folders to delete their files that haven’t changed in the last 60 days.

If you store temporary files from the internet or projects in different folders, it’s possible to use the ForFiles command in Command Prompt and Task Scheduler to delete files from any folder older than a specific number of days.

In this guide, you’ll learn the steps to manually delete files that haven’t been modified in a specific number of days, and the steps to create an automated task that will delete files older than a certain number of days inside any folder on Windows 10.

Important: Before using the command on the folder you want to organize, it’s recommended to test these steps using a test folder, as using the incorrect parameters and other mistakes can cause deletion of the wrong files.

How to use ForFiles to delete files older than X days on Windows 10

If you have different folders with a lot of files and you would like to cleanup by deleting those files that are older than certain number of days, then you can use the ForFiles command.

To use the ForFiles command to delete files older than a certain number of days, use these steps:

  1. Open Start on Windows 10.

  2. Search for Command Prompt, right-click the result and select the Run as administrator option.

  3. Type the following command to delete files that haven’t been modified in the last 30 days and press Enter:

    ForFiles /p "C:\path\to\folder" /s /d -30 /c "cmd /c del /q @file"

    In the above command remember to change "C:\path\to\folder" specifying the path to the folder that you want to delete files, and change /d -30 to select files with a last modified date.

    ForFiles using Command Prompt
    ForFiles using Command Prompt

ForFiles command breakdown

  • /p — indicates the pathname to start searching.
  • /s — instructs ForFiles to search inside subdirectories.
  • /d — specifies the last modified date for a file.
  • /c — instructs ForFiles to execute command, which needs to be wrapped in double-quotes, the default is “cmd /c del @file”.
  • /q — allows to delete folders without requiring confirmation. 

If you want to learn more about these switches, use the ForFiles /? Command.

How to use Task Scheduler to delete files older than X days automatically on Windows 10

The command in the previous instructions allows you to delete files in a folder that are older than 30 days, but you need to open Command Prompt and execute the command manually every time you want to free up space.

If you want to automate the process, you need to use the Task Scheduler on Windows 10 to create a task that executes the command at specified intervals.

To create a scheduled task with the ForFiles commands to delete files that haven’t changed in some time, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.

  2. Search for Task Scheduler and click the top result to open the experience.

  3. Right-click the Task Scheduler Library folder.

  4. Click the New Folder option.

  5. Type any name for the folder and click OK. (We’re creating a new folder to keep tasks organized and separated from the system tasks.)

  6. Right-click the recently created folder, and select the Create Task option.

  7. In the “Name” box, enter a name for the task.

  8. In the “General” tab, under the “Security options” section, select the Run whether user is logged on or not option. (This is the option that will make the command window not to appear when the task runs automatically.)

    Task Scheduler General tab
    Task Scheduler General tab
  9. Clear the Do not store password option.

  10. Click the “Triggers” tab, and click the New button.

  11. Using the “Begin the task” drop-down menu, select the On a schedule option.

  12. Under “Settings,” specify when you want the task to run (e.g., On time, Daily, Weekly, Monthly). Whatever option you select, make sure to specify the Start settings on the right side.

  13. Click the OK button.

    Task Scheduler Trigger settings
    Task Scheduler Trigger settings
  14. Click the “Actions” tab, and click the New Button.

  15. Using the “Actions” drop-down menu, select the Start a program option.

  16. In the “Program/script” box, type the following command:

    ForFiles
  17. In the “Add arguments” box, type the following command and click the OK button.

    /p "C:\path\to\folder" /s /d -30 /c "cmd /c del /q @file"

    In the above command remember to change "C:\path\to\folder" specifying the path to the folder that you want to delete files, and change /d -30 to select files with a last modified date.

    Task Scheduler Action settings
    Task Scheduler Action settings
  18. Click the OK button.

  19. Click the “Settings” tab, and make sure to check the following options:

    • Allow task to be run on demand.
    • Run task as soon as possible after a scheduled start missed.
    • If the task fails, restart every.
  20. Click the OK button.

    Task Scheduler additional settings
    Task Scheduler additional settings
  21. If prompted, enter your administrative username and password.

  22. Click the OK button.

Once you complete the steps, the command will run on the schedule deleting the files in the location that are older than the number of days you specified. Just remember not to change the name or move the folder to another location. Otherwise the task will fail.

Update April 8, 2020: This guide was originally published in October 2017, and it’s been revised in April 2020.