Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Deleting program files (including games) is not a good way to remove a program from your computer. It needs to be done properly.

My question is: you told me that if I delete games, this frees up disk space. My question today is if the games are put in the Recycle Bin, does this free up disk space too? Or do the games need to be completely removed from my notebook?

In this excerpt from Answercast #36, I look at deleting games from a computer to free up some space – just moving its file to the Recycle Bin is not going to cleanly uninstall the program.

Deleting to Recycle Bin

Games (or any kind of file that shows up in your Recycle Bin) have not freed up any space.

That kind of a delete, which is a manual delete (you're clearly doing it in Windows Explorer), actually just moves the file into the Recycle Bin and doesn't free up any space until you empty the Recycle Bin.

Once you empty the Recycle Bin:

  • All of the files within it are then removed from the hard disk.

  • And the space is freed up.

Proper uninstall

I point out that you're doing this manually because most games are installed with a setup program. That implies that rather than just deleting the files, what you really should be doing is running the "uninstall" for that program.

The uninstall will go ahead and actually delete the files and free up the disk space. It will also do a few more things, like remove the game from your registry and so forth. More importantly, it will properly uninstall the program so that most of its traces have been removed completely.

And yes, like I said, that will in fact remove the files and free up the disk space.

Article C5604 - July 19, 2012 « »

Share this article with your friends:

Share this article on Facebook Tweet this article Email a link to this article
Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

linda swanson
July 20, 2012 11:47 AM

just wanted to say"thanks" for all your great information. I'm learning alot from your site.

July 20, 2012 12:33 PM

If the recycle bin is full when you delete a file or program the deleted data will be moved to the recycle bin. However, an equal amount of data (the oldest) will be deleted from the recycle bin resulting in a net reduction of data on the disk equal to the size of the files you deleted.

Allan Poe
July 20, 2012 3:06 PM

Sorry Leo, but this is an incorrect answer.
"Once you empty the Recycle Bin:
All of the files within it are then removed from the hard disk."

Here is the correct answer.
"For Windows, the operating system simply deletes the reference to the file and you cannot access it (unless you have special programs). But the data is still on the HD."

To the questioner's point: emptying the recycle bin does free up the space.
Pat Rochester
July 20, 2012 5:23 PM

When I finish a game I go to Start and where it says New Programs I open that and go to the name of the game and it has the uninstall there. After I do that, I go back to start and click on "Search" When that opens I click on all files and folders. It will ask for a name on the file or keyword for the file. I put in just one word, usually the main one of the game. Then I click search. I always get something back from the search. I right click that to the recycle bin and empty the bin. I don't know if this is a necessary step but when I get something back, I just always do it because I'm not sure what was left after the uninstall.

July 24, 2012 8:57 AM

Re: Allan Poe's comment,
"But the data is still on the HD."
Not sure about this comment because when I delete my 20GB in my recycle bin, the HDD reflects 20GB more free space. I'm just saying it does free up space. After that, who cares.

July 25, 2012 4:29 AM

It's a simple situation that needs a complicated answer. Emptying the recycle bin does not remove the data - but it does make the used data space available for overwriting so increasing the amount of reported space.
Simply put, It's still there, but it doesn't count and so is ignored.
The data will remain in the disk until it is overwritten, when it will again be marked as used space which reduces the reported space available.

Comments on this entry are closed.

If you have a question, start by using the search box up at the top of the page - there's a very good chance that your question has already been answered on Ask Leo!.

If you don't find your answer, head out to to ask your question.