Disk cleanup stops working and will not remove files in Windows

Disk cleanup is a handy system tool that is included with the Windows Operating system. It removes unwanted and junk files from your computer. However sometimes when you want to use disk cleanup it will not remove all the files and stops working half way through the process. When this happens there is definitely a problem that needs to be fixed. See how to find disk cleanup.

Disk cleanup may have come across a corrupt file that can cause it to stop working. This usually happens when you have installed and removed programs from your computer. Especially if you have just installed a program and decide to uninstall it before you have restarted the computer. This will leave the computer thinking it is still installing a program. It confuses the computer. There are so many ways to get corrupted files but this is just one example.

Now if we consider what files disk cleanup is trying to remove, we come up with a short list. It is trying to remove temporary internet files, recycle bin, windows temporary files, and compressed old files.

The most common files that cause this problem is the Windows temporary files and the compressed old files. Therefore to make disk cleanup work properly we need to clean out these files manually.

disk cleanup

How to remove a corrupt temporary file so disk cleanup will work again:

  1. Close any programs that are running.
  2. Go to the run box in the start menu
  3. Type in %temp% This will open your Temp folder.
  4. Select all files and delete them. This is what would have happened if disc cleanup had worked…They are temporary files and not needed to run the computer.
  5. Close this window.
  6. Now go to control panel from the start menu..
  7. Double click on Internet options.
  8. On the general tab under browsing history, click delete.
  9. Then press delete all…. These files are not needed either…this is also another method of cleaning…It will delete internet cookies and saved passwords…etc…

Now you can try running disk cleanup. In most cases it will work now, however if it doesn’t you can try this next step.

Remove Compressed old files from the registry so disk cleanup will work again:

Sometimes your computer will not complete disk cleanup because it is having trouble working working with the compressed old files. I really think they are not necessary and why would you compress old files when most people have backed up the files they want to keep anyway. Also this is not necessary now days because most people have enough storage space as hard drives are bigger and better. I usually remove this option completely from the registry and then disk cleanup works so fast you would not believe it.

  1. Go to the start menu, choose run.
  2. Type regedit into the box. Press enter or ok.
  3. Now see the screenshot below. Make my computer blue by clicking on it once.
  4. Then press the CTRL key and the F key to bring up a find box.
  5. Type in compress old.
  6. It will find this folder and take you straight to it.
  7. Now delete that folder by right clicking on it and choosing delete.
  8. Exit the windows registry.

compress old

I have actually made a registry file to do all this for you. All you have to do is download it and double click on it and it will remove the compressed old file folder from the registry.

Remove compressed old files from the registry


  • Compressed old files was a handy feature in the early days of limited hard drive space. Now this feature basically does nothing but slow disk cleanup down or sometimes cause it to crash.
  • You do not always have to use the Windows disk cleanup tool because there are free alternatives. Go to our Free Software section to find out more.


  1. Lena says

    Uhm….What if it didn’t even BRING you to a folder but it STILL won’t let you disk cleanup?

    • says

      I have used this even if it is slow and I am too impatient to wait…And it works. Doing this will not ruin anything, but if it is causing it then it will fix it.

      • Lena says

        No I mean like….it doesn’t even FIND it.
        It just says that “search is done”, and there’s nothing there. .__.”