Do You Know What to Delete in Disk Cleanup on Windows 10 Computers?

Are you being confused with what to delete in disk cleanup in Windows 10? This passage will guide you to clean the system securely with simple operations.


By Irene / Updated on September 20, 2023

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What is Disk Cleanup?


Disk Cleanup is a handy tool that comes with Windows. It's there to help you clear out unnecessary stuff from your computer. If you're considering running this utility to free up storage space, you'll encounter a variety of file categories in the small window, like Downloaded Program Files, stuff in the Recycle Bin, and those Windows ESD installation files. However, it's important to approach file deletion with care, as not all files can be removed without thought. Certain files are vital, and deleting them could potentially result in potential risks.

So, if you're not sure what to delete, it's a good idea to follow this clear guide and get some advice to know what to delete in Disk Cleanup on Windows 10.

What to delete in Disk Cleanup on Windows 10 PCs

As we know, not all files in Disk Cleanup should be deleted without careful consideration. Here, we'll discuss three types of files: those you can safely delete, those you should never delete, and those you should consider deleting depending on specific situations.

1. Safe-to-be-deleted files in Disk Cleanup

Without hesitation, these files can be directly deleted. Usually, they are unimportant and useless data for the system.

• Cache: Cache files, generated by programs and websites to expedite program loading, are typically located in the C drive. Cleaning them is safe and won't harm your computer.

• Temporary Internet Files:  They are a type of cache files used by web browsers to store web page data, such as images and videos, to enhance loading times upon revisiting websites. You can feel free to delete them.

• Thumbnails:  They are small, quick-to-display versions of multimedia files and documents stored by Windows within folders for easy and efficient access. Deleting them won't harm your system; it will just slightly slow down the process in generating the thumbnails again if you revisit those folders in the future.

• Windows Defender: They are some unimportant temporary files that can be removed without care.

c drive cleanup

2. Do not move these important files

Being different from the above items, some files cannot be deleted, because they are crucial to system operation. Once deleted, it may cause data loss, and even lead to system crashes.

• Windows ESD Installation Files:  These files also known as Windows Electronic Software Download Installation Files, can occupy several gigabytes of disk space and may seem like a candidate for deletion to free up storage. They are essential for resetting or refreshing your computer in case the system encounters issues, making them crucial for system recovery. Therefore, it is better to keep these files on your Windows 10 computer.

• Other system-critical files: Deleting these files could potentially lead to data loss or system instability.

3. Delete these files in Disk Cleanup according to practical situations

The third category is up to you; you can choose to delete or keep these files based on your specific needs.

• Windows Update Cleanup: Windows preserves old versions' data when you update the system. If you plan to uninstall the Windows updates, the files allow you to do that. It is still safe to delete if you do not plan to do so.

• Temporary Windows Installation Files: These files are generated during a new Windows installation or a major update. You can safely delete them if you are not currently in the process of installing Windows.

• Delivery Optimization Files: They are used for uploading software and system updates to other computers by your PC bandwidth. This item can be reserved if you need to upload it to other PCs.

• DirectX Shader Cache: Being similar to cache files, DirectX Shader Cache usually contains files of the graphics system. They are used to shorten the loading time of the application. They will be recreated as needed after deletion.

• Recycle Bin: These are files that you have previously deleted, and they are temporarily stored here, allowing for potential restoration. When you empty this folder, the files will be permanently deleted. 

Note: If you want to restore deleted data from the emptied Recycle Bin, you can click the title to learn more relevant information.

How to safely clean up your Windows 10 computer?

Every time you consider running Disk Cleanup, it's necessary to determine which files are safe to delete. Is this process causing you some trouble? If so, we recommend trying out AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard, a user-friendly free cleaner for PCs.

It conducts a deep scan of your PC, and then categorizes all junk files. This tool will automatically select the safe files for deletion, which eliminates the need for manual checking and simplifies the process of clearing disk space. Of course, if needed, you can still personally review and select specific files to maximize your available space.

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Now, let’s have a look at how it works without worrying about "Is it safe to delete Windows files in Disk Cleanup":

Step 1. Launch AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard, and you can click "Free up" on the top bar to find "PC Cleaner".

pc cleaner free up space

Step 2. Select "Start Scan" in the pop-up window

start scan

Step 3. Wait patiently until the process completes.


Step 4. When it ends, you can see the sorted junk files. Tick the options and then select "Clean All" to clean your PC.

after scanning

Step 5. All the process is done when you see the icon. Click "Back" and you can enjoy a clean computer now.

cleanup finished

 If you hope to deeply clean up your drive all the more, you can try upgrading to AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional to delete large files. It will list the files that can be safely deleted and notice the files you should think twice about in red before deleting.
 If you are still afraid of deleting important files by mistake, you can use the recovery feature to recover them.


After reading this post, you can know what to delete in Disk Cleanup Windows 10 and how to set your disk space free. Cleaning up conveniently and safely by a powerful disk cleanup tool can avoid consuming too much energy to distinguish whether the files can be deleted or not.

As an almighty computer manager, AOMEI Partition Assistant can further make full use of your space by migrating OS to SSD without data loss and allocating Free Space.

If you are a Windows Server user, the Server Edition can also meet your needs. With all the powerful disk cleanup tools working, the system will run faster and smoother, bringing a comfortable using experience for your work or entertainment.

Irene · Staff Editor
Irene is an Editor of AOMEI Technology. She devotes herself in giving insightful thoughts on common computer problems with simple and clear guidance. Irene loves to help people solve problems and explore more solutions on relevant issues. She loves reading, singing and travelling.