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delete backup files

Find your backup disk is full and you cannot continue to back up your operating system or files? To get out of trouble, some of you choose to delete old Windows backup files to free up some space for new backup creation. This post will walk you through how to delete backup files in Windows 10/8/7, as well as the best way to manage Windows backup disk space.

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It's Necessary to Delete Windows Backup Files in Case of Full Backup Disk

Windows operating system includes two features - File History, Backup and Restore, helping you to back up your data and system regularly to protect your computer from data loss, system corruption, etc.

However, data backup files including app data keep growing and growing. After a period of time, you will find they’ll take up an enormous amount of space as they can. If the backup disk is full, no backups can be created, leaving your data and system at risk.

Periodically, you need to take a few minutes to delete old backups or remove app backup files to get the additional room on the drive to continue a new backup creation.

Where are Windows backup files stored? Usually, they are saved on your USB drive or external hard drive. This is why you ask how to delete backup files from external hard drives like WD My Passport in Windows 10.

Here, we will show you simple methods to clear Windows backup files.

How to Delete Backup Files in Windows 10/8/7

As mentioned above, Windows OS offers two utilities for file backup and system image backup. In the following, we will show you how to delete Windows image backup and how to delete old File History backup.

Method 1: Use Built-in Tool to Delete Windows Image Backup Windows 10

In Windows 10/8/7, its snap-in utility named Backup and Restore allows you to automatically create backups of files on your hard drive as well as the Windows OS as long as you turn the schedule setting on. Then, how to delete backup files in the case of Windows 10 backup drive being full? Follow the steps below:

Guide on Windows 10 Backup Delete Old Backups

Step 1: Go to the Start button, click Settings, and choose Update & security.

Step 2: On the Backup page, click the Go to Backup and Restore (Windows 7) link.

Step 3: Click the Manage space option in the Backup section.

manage Windows backup disk space with Backup and Restore

Step 4: Then the Manage Windows Backup disk space window will pop up where two options are given for you to choose to free up disk space on the backup disk.

Manage Window Backup disk space window

① If you click the View backups button in the Data file backup section, next you are asked to select a backup period to delete Windows backup files.

delete backup files by clicking view backups button

Note: Deleting previous backups will free up space on your backup location. All files backed up during the selected period will be deleted. Thus, be careful to choose the old period and then click the Delete button to manually remove backup files for more disk space.

② You can also click the Change settings button to free up disk space by changing how Windows retains older system images. This way will let Windows 10 Backup delete old backups automatically.

Next, you see two options to delete windows image backup:

  • Let Windows manage the space used for backup history. (Maximum X GB)
  • Keep only the latest system image and minimize space used by the backup.

select how Windows retains older system images

The first option is selected by default. Windows will automatically save system images, but it won't take up more than 30% of space on the backup drive if you allow Windows to manage space. Once it reaches the 30% range, older system images will be deleted.

If you care about having the latest system image available and want to conserve disk space, you should choose the second one to keep only the latest system image. Just choose the proper one to delete Backup Files in Windows 10/8/7 depending on your needs.

Tip: Here is one blog from Microsoft that shows you more information about how to manage Windows backup disk space. It should be helpful for you.

Method 2: Delete Old File History Backups

File History is the utility in Windows 10 and 8, allowing you to back up documents, your desktop, pictures, downloads, music and so on in the user account.

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With the increase of data in these folders, you also need to delete old backups to continue the File History backups when the backup drive gets full.

Wondering how to delete backup files in Windows 8/10 via File History? Here are the steps:

Step 1: Type Control Panel in the searching box and click this utility from the searching results to open it.

Step 2: Find File History in the System and Security section and open it.

Step 3: Click the Advanced settings link.

click advanced settings in File History window

Step 4: In the pop-up window, you can decide how long to keep saved File History backup versions. For example, you set to keep saved versions for 1 month, then the versions that exceed this range will be deleted automatically.

In addition, you can also click Clean up versions to delete backup files in Windows 10/8. This option will delete versions of files and folders older than the selected age, except the most recent version of a file or folder.

clean up File History backup versions

Further reading: Delete System Points to Free up Backup Disk Space

Now the information about Windows 10 Backup delete old backups automatically has been shared with you. In addition to these built-in Windows backup tools, you can create a system restore point to undo unwanted system changes and restore protected files to the previous version.

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To free up disk space when the backup drive is full, you can also delete old restore points. Just open the system protection tab, click Configure and adjust the maximum disk space used for system protection. As space fills up, older restore points will be deleted.

delete system restore points

Manage Windows Backup Disk Space in a Flexible Way

If you are looking for a flexible way to automatically delete backup files in Windows 10/8/7, we recommend using a piece of third-party software.

MiniTool ShadowMaker is a good choice. As reliable and professional backup software for Windows 10/8/7, it can easily back up your files, disks, partitions, and the operating system.

This software allows you to perform an automatic backup, as well as incremental and differential backup. It is important that you can use it to make advanced settings to automatically delete previous backup files so that the backup disk will never run out of space.

MiniTool offers a Trial Edition of this software that allows you for 30 days for free. Just download it by clicking the button below to have a try.

Free Download

Here is the guide on how to delete Windows image backup Windows 10:

Step 1: Run MiniTool ShadowMaker Trial Edition that is installed on your computer. Then, a window will appear where you can choose one edition to upgrade or click Keep Trial to continue. Here, we choose the latter one. Next, select one computer to start a backup.

Step 2: Go to the Backup feature where you will see system partition(s), as well as the destination folder for image storage, are selected by this software.

MiniTool ShadowMaker backs up the system by default

Actually, you can enter the corresponding section to reselect the backup source and storage location. In addition to Windows OS, files, disks or partitions can be backed up, it is allowed to back up your PC to an external hard drive, USB flash drive, and NAS.

select backup source

Step 3: After deciding the backup source and target, you can make an advanced setting to delete Windows image backups automatically with MiniTool ShadowMaker.

So, do you wonder how to delete backup files in Windows 10/8/7? On the Backup page, you can see there is a feature called Scheme allowing you to do this job easily. After clicking it, you will see this feature is disabled by default. Just turn it on, then choose one backup scheme and set it retain the latest versions of the backup image file.

In general, Incremental or Differential is recommended for enabling you to create incremental or differential backups for changed or added data and manage disk space. Here is a document to help you learn some information about these three backup schemes.

use scheme feature to delete backup files in Windows 10/8/7

Finally, go back to the Backup page and click Back up Now button to execute the backup.

Actually, you can manage Windows backup disk space in the Manage page. So, how to delete old Windows backup files this way?

Repeat step 1 and step 2, and click Back up Now to start the backup creation in the Manage tab. Then, choose Edit Scheme to choose one scheme to perform backup disk space management. After the setting, this software will automatically delete Windows image backup Windows 10.

click edit scheme to delete Windows backup image Windows 10

Want Windows backup software to back up your PC and manage disk space by deleting backup files in a flexible way? Just free download MiniTool ShadowMaker Trial Edition or you can share this tool on Twitter to let more people know about it.

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Tip: How to Delete Backup Files on Mac Hard Drive

By now, all the information about how to delete backup files in Windows 7/8/10 has been shared with you. If you are running a macOS, how can you delete backups taking up space on it? Read this part to learn some information.

On a Mac, the system comes with a utility called Time Machine, making it incredibly easy to back up all your important data so as to restore the Mac when something goes wrong.

It keeps local snapshots as space permits, hourly backups for the past 24 hours, daily backups for the past month, and weekly backups for all previous months. Normally, deleting backup files on Mac means to delete Time Machine backups.

In most cases, you shouldn't worry about those backups and the occupied space. If everything works properly, this tool will automatically delete the oldest backups when less than 20% of the space on your internal hard drive is available.

However, something may occur and you may find the disk becomes full. Then, you must delete multiple Time Machine backups. Here is a way to purge local snapshots from your internal hard drive:

Step 1: Press Command + Space to open a window, type Terminal and press the Enter key.

Step 2: Input the command: sudo tmutil disablelocal and press Enter.

This will stop Time Machine from creating new snapshots. After a moment, your Mac will automatically delete all of the local snapshots on the hard drive. To keep using local snapshots in the future, you can run this command to re-enable this feature: sudo tmutil enablelocal.

How to delete time machine backups from an external hard drive?

Step 1: Connect the external hard drive to your Mac.

Step 2: Open Finder and click Time Machine in the menu bar.

Step 3: Go to the drive containing backups, open the Backups.backupdb folder, find the backup folder titled by date of the backup you want to delete, right-click it and choose Move to Trash.

Tip: You may also be interested in how to delete backup files on Android. Actually, this is quite easy and you can clear old backups via Google Account or third-party software. For more information, search for the detailed solution online.

Bottom Line

Reading here, you should know more information about how to delete old backups in Windows 10/8/7. To delete Windows image backup automatically to manage Windows backup disk space, MiniTool ShadowMaker is strongly recommended here. What's more, now you also know how to delete backup files on Mac hard drive.

Now, choose the proper way to delete old backups to free up backup disk space. If you have any suggestions of the previous backup deletion or any questions when using our software, leave it in the comment area or contact [email protected].

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