How to Fix Low Disk Space in XP


Windows XP alerts you when disk space reaches a critical level, but you have several options to free up hard drive space. XP includes an built-in utility, called Disk Cleanup, that deletes unnecessary files from the most common locations. More disk space can be gained by deleting files manually or moving them to an external hard drive.

Low Disk Space Warning

  • Windows XP warns you when it detects your computer is running out of disk space. The first warning comes when less than 200 megabytes of space is available: a pop-up window will appear for ten seconds once every session (each time you log on to your computer). The warnings become more frequent as free space decreases. With less than 80 megabytes of free space the warning appears twice for 30 seconds, spaced four hours apart. At 50 megabytes or less, the message appears every five minutes for 30 seconds. The warnings do not stop until free disk space is above 200 megabytes.

Disk Cleanup

  • The easiest way to free up hard drive space in Windows XP is to use Disk Cleanup. The program deletes temporary Internet files from Internet Explorer, downloaded program files, optional Windows components, Windows temporary files and older System Restore points. You can select check boxes to choose which categories to delete. If Disk Cleanup does not free up enough space, it may be necessary to delete files manually.

Unnecessary Files

  • Remove files and applications you do not use to free up disk space. Empty the Recycle Bin and clean out the cache of your Web browser. Review the applications installed on your PC. Those applications you do not use should be uninstalled using the “Add/Remove Programs” function located in the Windows Control Panel. Ensure that no duplicate files exist on your PC: remove any files that are duplicates.


  • Your Downloads folder (or any location you use to store downloaded content) may be taking up a lot of disk space. Empty these folders of files that you no longer need or use. Pictures and videos also take up a lot of space: Delete those pictures and videos that you do not wish to keep. Using Windows Explorer, look around your hard drive for temporary installation folders and delete those as well. Once you complete the deletion process, be sure to empty your Recycle Bin to reclaim the space.

External Storage

  • If there is no need to keep the files on your computer’s hard drive, consider using a external hard drive to store some of your content, especially larger files. External drives come in various capacities, some as large as the hard drive currently in your computer. These drives connect via USB, and when connected can be used as an additional hard drive for your PC.


  • Photo Credit Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images
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