How to Increase the Storage Space on USB Drives

By Frank Dioso

You may notice that the capacity of your USB flash drive has decreased over time despite deleting unwanted files. Or you may have received a pop up screen that says your USB flash drive is full after inserting it in your computer. This can be caused by programs leaving hidden files on the drive, such as when you save word processing documents or transfer massive amounts of pictures from your digital camera to your USB flash drive. Another common cause is when your operating system creates hidden files when you connect a USB drive to the computer. It is possible to increase the storage space of your USB flash drive by deleting unwanted hidden files.

Step 1

Click on “Start,” then “Control Panel”, then select “Category” in the “View by” drop-down box located in the upper right-hand corner of the control panel screen.

Step 2

Click on “Appearance and Personalization,” then “Show hidden files and folders” under the “Folder Options” section. The folder options screen now appears.

Step 3

Click on “Show hidden files, folders, or drives” in the Advanced settings box, then uncheck the checkbox labeled “Hide extensions for known file types” and “Hide protected operating system files (Recommended).” Click on “OK” then “Apply” to finish.

Step 4

Insert your USB flash drive into a USB slot in your computer. A screen showing the contents of your USB flash drive will now appear. You will now be able to view icons and files that were not previously visible. Select the files and delete them. If you are unsure of a file's purpose, type the name of the file in a search engine to find out what it is. Delete the all hidden files you don’t want.

Step 5

Click on “Start,” then “Computer,” then right click on the USB flash drive and select “Properties” to see how much space you freed.

Tips & Warnings

  • Don’t forget to enable hidden files again after removing the hidden files from your USB flash drive. Repeat steps 1 to 3, but in step 3, check the checkbox labeled “Hide extensions for known file types” and “Hide protected operating system files (Recommended).” Click on “OK” then “Apply” after to finish.
  • You can also increase storage space by compressing your files before transferring them to your USB flash drive. There are innumerable file compression programs you can download (see Resources).