Your Windows computer’s hard drive can fill up rather fast if you download a bunch of programs or video games. But through the normal course of use, it shouldn’t be stacked to the brim. If you recently noticed a sudden decrease in available free space, you might have a problem.
Windows users have been faced with this issue. Seemingly for no apparent reason, their hard drives have been filled up with gigabytes’ worth of random files. Tap or click here to see how fake sites are impersonating Microsoft and Spotify.
Upon closer inspection, Reddit users noticed that a Windows security application is to blame. We’ve got details on what’s causing the problem along with a quick solution.
Here’s the backstory
Microsoft periodically rolls out updates and software patches for various applications. Windows Defender is one such app, which received a system update not too long ago. Defender is the operating system’s built-in antivirus protection, making it an essential component.
But the latest update to Defender had some unintended consequences. Through a bug that was introduced in the update, it caused the application to create millions of garbage files on your computer. Unaware, you can find yourself scratching your head as to why you have no disk space left.
Reports of the bug started on Reddit, with one user explaining that over 50GB of space has filled up a hard drive. “Our alerts for HDD space started going off last night. One server has 18 MILLION FILES in the Store folder. Another has 13 MILLION. Taking hours just to discover all of the files so that they can be deleted,” he wrote in a post.
What you can do about it
If you suddenly find your computer running a bit slow and a warning popping up about low disk space, you might have been hit by the bug. Luckily there is a fairly painless solution if you have a home computer. For those with servers or business machines, the process is going to take a bit longer.
The first step is to locate the files created by Defender and delete all of them. Thankfully, the trash files aren’t scattered all over your system.
- Head to C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows Defender\Scans\History\Store in your file explorer.
- With all the files visible in the folder, press CTRL + A to select all the files.
- Once selected, press SHIFT + Del to permanently delete the files from your system.
This method skips the trash can on delete, as files in the recycle bin will still take up space until they are permanently removed. To prevent this from happening again, you should also update your Windows Defender to the latest 1.1.18100.6 version.
How to update Windows Defender:
- Click the Start Menu
- Type “Windows Security”
- Choose Windows Security (App)
- Click Virus & threat protection
- Under Virus & threat protection updates, click Check for updates