Deleting all your personal files from your Windows 10 computer can be useful if you are planning to sell or give away your computer. It allows you to wipe the slate clean and remove any sensitive or private data. However, you want to delete just your personal files and folders, not Windows itself or any built-in apps.
Why Would You Want to Delete All Files?
Here are some common reasons for deleting all personal files from your Windows 10 computer:
- You are selling or giving away your computer and want to protect your privacy by removing all personal data.
- You want to start fresh with a clean Windows 10 installation.
- Your computer is running slowly and you want to remove unnecessary files and clutter.
- You are sending your computer in for repairs and don’t want others accessing your files.
Files That Can Be Safely Deleted
Here are some types of personal files and folders that can safely be deleted to free up space on your Windows 10 computer:
- Downloads folder
- Documents folder
- Pictures folder
- Music folder
- Videos folder
- Desktop files
- Saved games
- Internet browser cache and history
- Temporary files
Files You Should NOT Delete
Here are some files and folders you should avoid deleting from your Windows 10 computer:
- Windows folder
- Program Files folder
- Users folder (unless deleting specific user profiles)
- System32 folder
- Boot folder
- WindowsApps folder
- ProgramData folder
- Recovery folder
- Manufacturer installed apps like Lenovo Vantage or HP Support Assistant
Deleting these critical Windows and program files can prevent your computer from functioning properly.
How to Delete All Personal Files
Here are a few methods to safely delete all personal files from your Windows 10 PC:
Use Disk Cleanup
Disk Cleanup allows you to free up space by deleting system files and other unnecessary content. To use it:
- Type “Disk Cleanup” in the Windows search bar and select it.
- Select the drive you want to clean up, likely your C: drive.
- Check the box next to “Temporary Files” and any other boxes except “Downloaded Program Files.”
- Click “OK” and then “Delete Files” to remove the selected files.
Delete User Files Manually
You can manually delete all files inside your user account’s folders:
- Open File Explorer and navigate to This PC > Documents.
- Select and delete all files and subfolders inside the Documents folder.
- Navigate to Pictures, Music, Videos folders and delete all files/subfolders.
- Browse to the Desktop folder and delete all files.
- Empty the Recycle Bin to completely remove deleted files.
Reset Your PC
Using the Reset Your PC option in Windows 10 will remove all personal files, apps, and settings and reinstall a fresh Windows.
To do this:
- Go to Settings > Update & Security > Recovery.
- Under Reset this PC, click Get Started.
- Choose “Remove everything.”
- Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the reset process.
Here are some other tips when deleting files from your Windows 10 computer:
- Sign out of cloud services like OneDrive first so synced files are not deleted.
- Create a backup of important files you want to keep on an external drive.
- Check the Recycle Bin afterwards and empty it out.
- Use a secure delete tool like Eraser to overwrite sensitive files before deleting.
- Uninstall unused programs to clean up extra folders and registry entries.
Deleting Specific User Profiles
If you just want to delete files associated with a specific user account on your Windows 10 PC, you can delete the user profile:
- Go to Settings > Accounts > Family & other users.
- Select the user account you want to remove.
- Click Remove and then Delete Account and Data.
This will delete all files stored within that user profile including documents, photos, downloads, desktop files, and preferences.
Deleting personal files allows you to free up disk space, remove sensitive information before disposing of a PC, or wipe your system clean for a fresh install of Windows. Care should be taken not to delete system files or folders essential to Windows functioning.
Following the methods outlined, you can safely remove your personal data while leaving Windows 10 intact. Just be sure to backup any important files you want to keep beforehand.