In Windows 10, MS has indeed made incredible strides in replacing older standalone utilities with Settings-based alternatives. That said, I’m still not ready to kiss Disk Cleanup (aka cleanmgr.exe) goodbye. Truly, you can do much, if not all, of what Disk Cleanup does by running Start → Settings → System → Storage → Configure Storage Sense or run it now, and then working under the “Free up space now” heading (Clean now). But it’s just not the same for at least a couple of reasons:
1. The information and the categories that Storage Sense provides isn’t as detailed, and it doesn’t offer as many cleanup options.
2. You can’t use the Settings-based version at the command line for the famous cleanup sequence
cleanmgr /sageset:65535 /sagerun:65535
The Famous Cleanup Sequence Sometimes Matters Much
When I’m having trouble cleaning up after a failed Windows upgrade, the famous sequence has bailed me out of trouble more than once. Basically, it selects every possible option in Disk Cleanup (that’s the “sageset” part) and then runs it (the “sagerun” part) to clean up every single freaking thing that Windows can recognize as possibly unwanted or unneeded. Some sources recommend this approach as a way to squeeze the most free space possible out of a system drive. I’ve found it to be uncommonly helpful at putting a Windows installation that’s been beset with update or upgrade wonkiness back to rights. Keep this in your bag of tricks for when you might find yourself in a similar situation, and it may do the same for you.
And perhaps, too, there’s an element of nostalgia or long-time familiarity at work here. Given the following image, I am a lot more inclined to prefer the right-hand option (Disk Cleanup) versus the left-hand one (Free up space now). I hope Microsoft understands the value of the command line capabilities that Cleanmgr.exe brings to the party, and keeps it around forever. Keep your fingers crossed, and that may actually happen!
Though most of what Cleanmgr makes available also appears in Free up space now, I prefer the old interface and its command-line friendly operation.
Author: Ed Tittel
Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran. He’s a Princeton and multiple University of Texas graduate who’s worked in IT since 1981 when he started his first programming job. Over the past three decades he’s also worked as a manager, technical evangelist, consultant, trainer, and an expert witness. See his professional bio for all the details.