How to Fix: Can't Delete Restore Points (C Drive Full)

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Bill L. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

I am a long time reader of Infopackets, and have used several of your articles to help fix problems for myself or friends. I have a similar problem mentioned in one of your previously written articles, where my C drive has magically filled up to almost completely full (with only 5.8GB free) and I am not able to find where the missing space went. I have examined directory on my system and it appears that 244 GB of available space is unaccounted for. I am a retired computer engineer, however my expertise was in large system development, and not PCs! I would like to hire you to help me find and restore the missing space on my C drive. Thank you in advance for your help! "

My response:

I asked Bill if he would like me to connect to his system using my remote desktop support service in order to have a closer look, and he agreed.

The first thing I did was use a program called "TreeSize Free" which allows me to view the file usage on Bill's computer. TreeSize Free immediately showed me that 244GB of data was being used in Bill's "System Volume Information". Based on experience I understand that the majority of data contained within the "System Volume Information" directory likely meant that Bill's Windows Restore Points were eating up most of his available C drive space.

From there I clicked the Start menu, then typed in "restore point", then clicked "Create a restore point". This got me into the "System Properties" window via the "System Protection" tab.

Under the "Protection settings" heading, it listed the C drive and said that the protection (restore points) was currently turned on. I clicked the C drive to highlight it, then clicked the "configure" button. This brought up a new window labeled "System Protection for C drive". From here I clicked the "Delete" button to delete all the restore points, then under the "Restore settings" heading, I clicked the "Disable system protection".

Under normal circumstances this usually reclaims a tremendous amount of free space; however, when I went to "My Computer" and examined Bill's C drive, the available free space did not change - it still read 5.8 GB free. I went back into view Bill's Restore Points settings and noted that the "Current usage" was set at 0 bytes. So why wasn't deleting the restore points freeing up available space?

I examined Bill's C drive using Tree Size Free again and it the program still reported a tremendous amount of space being used in the C:\System Volume Information directory (which is where restore points are saved).

How to Fix: Can't Delete Restore Points (C Drive Full)

After a bit of research I came across a post online that suggested CCleaner (Crap Cleaner free version) was able to manage restore points. Here is how I was able to delete the restore points, which weren't being deleted by Windows:

  1. The first step was to download and install CCleaner free to Bill's machine.
  2. Next, I opened up the CCleaner main interface window, then click on the Tools heading on the left side.
  3. On the Tools menu, I clicked "Restore Points" - here is a pic showing Tools -> Restore Points.
  4. All of Bill's restore points were listed; from here I left-clicked the mouse to select the very top listing, then pressed SHIFT + END on the keyboard to highlight all of the restore points. Once that was done, I press DEL on the keyboard to delete all the restore points.

It took a while, but after some time the restore points were being deleted.

Normally I would have used an administrative command prompt to access the restore points and delete them - however these files are controlled by the operating system and results in an "access denied" error message if you attempt to access the directory. Thankfully CCleaner is able to somehow get past this.

I hope that helps.

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About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

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Escape1148's picture

System Restore Explorer works too. Much easier.

Commenter's picture

Just a quick FYI...The program is CCleaner, not CC Cleaner. As you note, it used to be called Crap Cleaner, but the "rap" was left out of the first word and cleaned up the name a bit (yes, now that I've typed it, I see the joke there.)

I use CCleaner at work in my job as desktop support specialist. We have computers that are so slow, they are barely usable, and a cleanout with CCleaner puts them back to normal. Note that the free version only cleans the profile you're in when you use it, so if you have a computer with multiple profiles, you'll want to run it on as many of the profiles as possible. It's worth it, though, to get a computer that's almost unusable back up to speed in just a couple minutes. And you can let your users run the program themselves to do cleanups on their own whenever they feel the computer is bogging down a bit.