Top 5 Fixes Disk Cleanup Not Working on Windows

Disk Cleanup is a useful system maintenance tool frees up storage space without deleting any critical files or applications. You can use it to clean up temporary files, the Recycle Bin, old Windows update files, and more with just a few clicks. While Disk Cleanup usually works as expected, sometimes it throws errors and stops responding on your Windows 10 or 11 PC.

Top Fixes Disk Cleanup Not Working on Windows

Fortunately, there’s no need to resort to other methods to clean up unnecessary files on your computer. This guide contains a few effective tips that should resolve any issues with the Disk Cleanup tool.

1. Open Disk Cleanup With Admin Rights

The Disk Cleanup tool needs administrative privileges to execute certain tasks, such as clearing system files, old update data, and various Windows error reports. Running Disk Cleanup without admin rights may prevent it from completing these tasks.

To avoid any issues, make sure your user account has administrative privileges, and then use the following steps to run the Disk Cleanup utility:

Step 1: Click the search icon on the taskbar, type in disk cleanup, and select Run as administrator.

Open Disk Cleanup on Windows

Step 2: Select Yes when the User Account Control (UAC) prompt appears.

Disk Cleanup UAC Prompt

Step 3: Use the drop-down menu to select a drive and click OK.

Disk Cleanup Utility

Step 4: Under Files to delete, use the checkboxes to select the files you want to remove and click OK.

Select Temporary Files on Disk Cleanup

Step 5: Click the Delete Files button to confirm.

Delete Windows Update Files From Disk Cleanup Tool

2. Empty the Temp Folder Manually

Is the Disk Cleanup utility taking forever to calculate files to clean? That could happen if some of the temporary files have become inaccessible. To fix this, try emptying the Temp folder manually and see if that works.

Step 1: Press the Windows key + R keyboard shortcut to open the Run dialog box. Type %temp% in the text field and press Enter.

Open Temp Folder on Windows

Step 2: In the File Explorer window that opens, select all the files and click the trash icon at the top.

Delete Temp Files on Windows

After this, try running the Disk Cleanup tool once again and see if it works.

3. Check System Files

Disk Cleanup may be unable to delete anything or stop responding on Windows if some system files have become corrupt. If that’s the case, running the SFC (System File Checker) and DISM (Deployment Image Servicing and Management) scans should help repair those files.

Step 1: Right-click on the Start icon and select Terminal (Admin) from the list.

Open Terminal (Admin) on Windows 11

Step 2: Select Yes when the User Account Control (UAC) prompt appears.

Open Terminal UAC Prompt

Step 3: Type the following command in the console and press Enter.

SFC /scannow
SFC Scan on Windows 11

Step 4: Run the following commands and press Enter after each one to run the DISM scan.

DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /CheckHealth
DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /ScanHealth
DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth
DISM Scan on Windows 11

After the scan is complete, restart your PC and check if the issue still occurs.

4. Scan for Malware

Such issues with the Disk Cleanup utility can also arise if your PC is infected with malware. To overrule this possibility, scanning your PC for malware is a good idea. You can do this with the built-in Windows Defender or a reliable third-party antivirus program.

Scan for Malware

If the scan reveals anything suspicious, take the recommended steps to remove the threat.

5. Try Clean Boot Mode

If the Disk Cleanup utility still won’t open or work as expected, one of the background programs or services may be causing the issue. To avoid interference, try running the Disk Cleanup utility in a clean boot state.

Step 1: Press the Windows + R keyboard shortcut to open the Run dialog box, type msconfig.msc, and press Enter.

Open System Configuration on Windows 11

Step 2: Under the Services tab, tick the ‘Hide all Microsoft services’ checkbox and click the Disable all button.

Disable Third-Party Services on Windows

Step 3: Switch to the Startup tab and click on Open Task Manager.

Open Task Manager on Windows

Step 4: In the Task Manager window, select a third-party app or program and click the Disable button at the top. Repeat this step to disable all startup apps and programs one by one.

Disable Third-Party Startup Apps Windows

Restart your PC to enter a clean boot state and try to run the Disk Cleanup utility. If you don’t experience any issues, one of your third-party apps or programs may be causing the problem. Try uninstalling any suspicious programs one by one to fix the problem.

Reclaim Your Storage Space With Disk Cleanup

Although several third-party PC cleaning tools are available for Windows, it’s best to stick to the native options if possible. Going through the above tips should help resolve any issues with the Disk Cleanup utility and get it working again on your Windows 10 or 11 PC. Let us know which tip worked for you in the comments below.

Last updated on 09 October, 2023

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