Microsoft quietly announced that Disk Cleanup is now deprecated, news that was buried at the bottom of a blog post about Windows 10’s Storage Sense. Disk Cleanup isn’t going away immediately but is on its way out the door.

Twenty Years of Disk Cleanup

Disk Cleanup deserves a better send-off than a tiny note at the end of a Microsoft blog post. We’ve been using Disk Cleanup for over 20 years since it debuted in Windows 98.

Whatever version of Windows you’re using, Disk Cleanup has always worked the same way. Right-click a drive, select “Properties,” and then click the “Disk Cleanup” button to launch it. It still works the same way on Windows 10 today. You can also just launch it from the Start menu or run the cleanmgr.exe program.

Disk Cleanup has gotten more and more useful over time. Whether it was removing a few hundred MB of temporary files on Windows XP or removing more than 10 GB of leftover files after installing a big update to Windows 10, it always worked well to free up the disk space we needed.

On a complicated operating system that kept adding new features over time, Disk Cleanup was always the one-stop location for freeing up disk space. We’ve been teaching people to use Disk Cleanup for years. It’s been indispensable.

Geeks Turned to CCleaner, But Disk Cleanup Was Always Reliable

Okay, okay, let’s be honest: Disk Cleanup fell out of favor. We geeks moved on to more comprehensive tools like CCleaner that also erased other types of temporary files, including gigabytes of NVIDIA driver installer files and web browsing histories from Chrome and Firefox.

CCleaner might have been packed with features, but it eventually ended up packed with additional software and features that collected data about your PC after Piriform, CCleaner’s developer, was sold to Avast. It even had a malware scare after its servers were hacked.

Disk Cleanup was the steady tool we could always come back to. It was always there and did a solid job without the drama. Today, Disk Cleanup still does almost everything we need to do, and we prefer using it rather than riding the CCleaner roller coaster.

“Deprecated” Doesn’t Mean Dead—Not Yet, At Least

Disk Cleanup isn’t gone just yet. Microsoft says it will keep the utility around for compatibility reasons. In other words, Windows users are so accustomed to this tool that Microsoft can’t get rid of it overnight.

This utility joins a long line of other beloved Windows features that Microsoft is slowly getting rid of. For example, Microsoft Paint is now also deprecated, and it will be moved out of Windows 10 proper to the Store soon enough. HomeGroups are already gone. System Image Backups are deprecated and may be removed soon.

When Microsoft says Disk Cleanup is “deprecated” starting with the October 2018 update, that means it’s been replaced by a new tool. It may or may not be available in future version of Windows 10, and Microsoft recommends you don’t rely on it. In a best-case scenario, Disk Cleanup may have a few years left—but we bet it’ll be gone sooner than that.

Disk Cleanup Lives on in Spirit

While Disk Cleanup is saying its goodbyes, it still lives on in spirit. The new “Free Up Space” tool in Windows 10 is basically a modern, faster Disk Cleanup. It does everything Disk Cleanup does—and more.

To find this tool, head to Settings > System > Storage > Free Up Space Now. It will automatically scan your system for everything Disk Cleanup looked for.

Windows 10’s new utility is a more than capable replacement. Really, there’s no loss in functionality. We shouldn’t be concerned. But a part of Windows we’ve known and relied on for 20 years is going away, and we’re going to miss it.

RELATED: Use Windows 10's New "Free Up Space" Tool to Clean Up Your Hard Drive

Profile Photo for Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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