Freeing up disk space on your C: drive

Posted by Dan on May 29, 2009 @ 2:35 PM

I've been fighting a bit of a battle with my development server. When I originally set up the box, I created the C: partition with a relatively small size based on some performance guidelines I had read. While I had plenty of space when I built the server, the ever growing Windows folder has eventually eaten up all the disc space. The biggest culprit of this being the C:\Windows\installer folder—which gets larger each time Windows does an update.

Today I finally had no choice but to do something. There aren't a lot of choices when a system drive is running out of space, you basically can:

  • Remove unused files—been there, done that; nothing else to remove
  • Backup and reformat—which is way too big of pain to do
  • Use a tool to resize the partition (which only works if your drive has been partitioned into multiple logic drives)
  • Move files to a different drive and create a symbolic link (junction) to the folders

I thought about going the resizing route, but there's some risk involved and I wanted to minimize the time I was working on this. So I decided to go the junction route.

Since the C:\Windows\installer folder was without a doubt the folder eating up the majority of disk space for me, I decided to move this folder to another drive. However, there are some caveats of moving the C:\Windows\installer folder where if you don't get the permissions just right, then Windows will delete the junction and the folder it points to—where leaves you screwed.

Fortunately for all of us, Simon Bailey has written a nice batch file you can use to move C:\Windows\installer folder for you. If you're not interested in the batch file, you can also read his detailed blog post on the steps for freeing up space on your C: drive.

Now that I've freed up gigabytes of data from my C: drive, my server is happy again—which makes me happy.

Categories: Technology


  • Our computer is showing almost all the C drive space used. We have deleted almost all the files, but really gained no more space. Do you know what the problem might be? Any help at all will be welcome!
  • While it could be a virus, it's probably just all the windows update files that build up over time. You'd really need to figure out which directory is taking up all your hard drive space.
  • Dan, there is another option. That is to move everything to a larger drive using an app like Acronis TrueImage. I've used TrueImage over the past few years to move a Windows install from one machine to another or to a larger drive. Its quite a useful app, and quite fast.
  • @Darin:

    I kind of grouped that into the "Use a tool to resize the partition" category. Since it's basically one drive partitioned up to small, I really didn't want to replace the drive, just increase the partition on the C: drive.

    Anyway, that definitely *is* an option, I was just trying to be cheap and do things as quickly as possible.

    The method I ended up using definitely isn't the best long term solution for a box (your method is much better,) but it worked well for my needs (at least until I upgrade the box.)

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