How to see what’s taking up space on a hard drive on Windows 10

The Windows 10 Storage settings and WinDirStat are tools that can quickly help you to analyze and determine how the hard drive space is being used.

Storage usage on Windows 10
Storage usage on Windows 10
  • To see what’s taking up space on Windows 10, open Settings > Storage, click “Show more categories,” and review the storage usage.
  • You can also use the WinDirStat app that scans and shows exactly what files are taking the most space on your computer.

On Windows 10, when the computer’s hard drive begins to fill up, you will start wondering what’s taking up all the available space, and this is when the “Storage” settings come in handy. The “Storage” settings are part of the operating system’s storage management features designed to help you manage the computer drive space usage. It’s also a tool to analyze the content of any drive to figure out the space utilization and know where to start cleaning up files you cannot remove using this feature.

Although Storage Sense is a great feature to analyze hard drive storage, it has some limitations as you cannot see what files are taking the most space, and this is when the WinDirStat (Windows Directory Statistics) comes in handy.

WinDirStat is a free hard drive usage statistic viewer that lets you see exactly what files take up the most space on your computer. It does this by scanning the entire drive and generating an easy-to-visualized report with the size and location of each file, which is helpful information that you can use to clean up space on Windows 10.

In this guide, you will learn how to use the Storage settings and WinDirStat to understand how storage is utilized on Windows 10.

Warning: This guide recommends third-party software, and even though it’s a nondestructive application and usually works as expected, you have to use it at your own risk. You have been warned.

Find out what files are taking up space on Windows 10 from Settings

To see the files taking up space on the hard drive on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings on Windows 10.

  2. Click on System.

  3. Click on Storage.

  4. Under the “(C:)” section, you will see what’s taking up space on the main hard drive.

    Storage settings on Windows 10 version 1903 and later

  5. Click the “Show more categories” option to view the storage usage from other file types.

    Windows 10 storage usage for the main drive

  6. (Optional) Click the “View storage usage on other drives” option under the “More storage settings” section.

    Windows 10 storage usage for other drivers

  7. Select the drive to see its storage usage if you have multiple hard drives.

    Windows 10 other drives storage usage

  8. See storage usage for the other drive.

    Secondary drive storage usage

Once you complete the steps, you will understand what files take up most of the space on your device.

If temporary files are the items consuming most of your storage, you can use this guide to free up space quickly.

Storage usage offers an overview of everything stored on the drive, including system files, apps, games, temporary files, and those stored in the Documents, OneDrive, Pictures, Music, Videos, and files from other accounts if you share the device with other users.

Find out what files are taking up space on Windows 10 from WinDirStat

To understand what’s taking up space on Windows 10, you first need to download and install WinDirStat and then run the tool.

Install WinDirStat on Windows 10

To install WinDirStat with the winget command on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.

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

  3. Type the following command to install the WinDirStat app and press Enter:

    winget install WinDirStat.WinDirStat

    winget install WinDirStat

Once you complete the steps, you can use the app to scan the entire drive and get a report of the current hard drive usage.

Check files taking up space with WinDirStat

To use WinDirStat to determine what files are taking up space on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open Start on Windows 10.

  2. Search for WinDirStat and click the top result to open the app.

  3. Select the Individual Drives option.

  4. Select the drive you want to see what files are taking up space.

    WinDriStat select drive

    Quick tip: Although you can scan all the drives, scanning one drive at a time is recommended to minimize resource impact and speed up the process.
  5. Click the OK button.

    Quick note: If the device is running low in space, making the experience very slow, you’ll notice that the app will freeze, showing the “Not responding” message, but eventually, it’ll complete successfully.

After you complete the steps, WinDirStat will scan the drive, showing you a graphical report to understand what files are taking up the most space on the hard drive.

WinDirStat scanning drive
Drive analyze

The report is divided into three main sections. On the top-left side, you’ll see a tree file structure that lets you see which folder takes the most space. You can drill down to find the file using the most space on the hard drive.

WinDirStat drive usage report
Storage usage report

On the top-right, you can see what file extensions use the most space.

Also, at the bottom, you’ll find a graphical view known as a treemap representing each file as a rectangle—the bigger the rectangle, the bigger the file on Windows 10. The color of each rectangle represents the file type, as shown in the extension list.

You can quickly select a rectangle to find the file name and location.

See file taking up huge space on Windows 10
See file taking up huge space on Windows 10

If the file using a lot of space is one of your files, you can use File Explorer to find and delete it. Also, you can right-click the file within WinDirStat to access options to copy the file’s path or open the folder location with File Explorer or Command Prompt, and you will even get two options to delete the file.

WinDirStat cleanup options
WinDirStat cleanup options

However, those large files on your device are sometimes system files. Typically, you can’t just click the delete button to remove them. If it turns out that it’s a system file, then make a note of the file’s name and research online how to remove it or reduce its size.

For instance, it’s known that if you’re indexing the Outlook PST file, Windows 10 will try to index every email, and if you don’t reduce the number of emails the client downloads on your device, you could end up with a huge “Windows.edb” file taking up all the drive space. If this is the case, the proper way to reclaim the space is to rebuild the index database and not delete the file.

Update February 7, 2024: This guide has been updated to ensure accuracy and add the WinDirStat tool instructions.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 15 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 21 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and Email him at [email protected].