hiberfil.sys Windows 8.1 Delete to Free Up SSD Space

Disable Hibernation on Windows 8.1 to Remove hiberfil.sys for More Disk Space

This article provides a tutorial on removing the Windows hibernation file to free up disk space when a small solid state disk (SSD) is used as the system drive. Please ensure you have a backup of any data and files you need to keep before changing system configurations. This article is for information only. System configurations can vary widely, therefore any changes made are at your own risk. If you’re confident with computers and understand the meaning of the hiberfil.sys file you can skip to the end of the article for the relevant command, which is to run powercfg -h off at the administrator’s command prompt, otherwise read on for a better understanding.

Background

Low Disk Space on a Windows SSDApart from low end systems a SSD drive is standard fitting to most computers and laptops. An SSD is also a common upgrade to older systems. A SSD is more expensive than a hard disk drive, as a result small capacity SSDs (less than 128 GB) may be used to keep costs down. Windows 8.1 requires 20GB for installation, modern computing demands soon eats into the the remaining space. A system can be configured to use a small SSD for the Windows system and a large multi-terabyte  hard drive for data storage (see Move My Documents and Other Personal Folders). Despite this, or if a second drive is not an option, the SSD may fill up quickly with normal use. Once the SSD is full the computer or laptop will not function properly, may not boot up, or show error messages at boot time. The worst case scenario is data corruption and loss, or even disk failure, when applications cannot handle running with no disk space available.

Shut Down, Sleeping and Hibernating

The power status of a Windows computer can be in one of several states, depending upon the computer type (e.g. laptop or desktop) and the configured Power Options:

  1. Powered on ready for use
  2. Shut down (powered off)
  3. Sleeping
  4. Hibernating
  5. Hybrid Sleep
Windows Power OptionsOptions 3, 4 and 5 are used for power saving and faster Windows restarting (see Sleep and hibernation: frequently asked questions). For option 4, when Windows is in hibernate, if the system loses total power, from a power cut or when a laptop battery dies, Windows can still restart the last session when power is reapplied. However, this requires the computer’s memory to be stored on the disk in a Windows system file called hiberfil.sys, stored on the system root (C:\hiberfil.sys). If the computer has 8 GB of memory it requires a similar size file. Commonly computers are fitted with 4GB to 16GB of memory. A multi-gigabyte hiberfil.sys would take a large chunk of SSD space.

The C:\hiberfil.sys Windows 8.1 File

Since hiberfil.sys is as large as the system memory turning off hibernation can free up a lot of disk space. The following picture shows how much space a hiberfil.sys is taking up on a Windows machine with 16GB of memory and a 60GB SSD system disk. The utility used is WinDirStat. Hiberfile.sys is the biggest file by far!

A Hiberfil.sys on a Windows 8.1 60GB System DIsk

To delete the hyperfil.sys Windows system file hibernation must be disabled. Disabling hibernation has some considerations. The Power Options must be configured so that the machine is always left in a safe state when not being used. The safest state is to always Shut Down the machine.

Access the Power Options from Control Panel. This can be done in several ways. Note that you will need administrator access to be able to do this. The quickest way is to type Power at the Start screen and select Power Options from the Search list.

Alternatively bring up the context menu (usually right click) on the Windows flag on the Task Bar, or select the Settings icon on the charms bar. Select Control Panel, choose System and Security and select Power Options.

In Power Options for the selected plan select Change plan settings. Then select Change advanced plan settings. Under Sleep if HIbernate is available ensure it is set to Never (there may be more than one Hibernate option, e.g. for laptops). If the option contains a value, e.g. 60 minutes, deleting the value sets it to Never. Also ensure none of the options under Power buttons and lid are set to Hibernate.

Use powercfg.exe to Delete hiberfil.sys

Open up a command prompt with administrator privileges. To do this type command at the Start screen. Bring up the context menu on Command Prompt (usually right click), then select Run as administrator.

Run Command Prompt As Administrator

Use dir c:\ /ah to list hiberfile.sys in the root directory.

list_windows_hibernation_file

In the command window type the command to delete hiberfil.sys:

powercfg.exe -h off

no_windows_hibernation_file

The WinDirStat program visually shows the difference from the previous image:

files_treemap_2

After making the necessary changes check that the normal Sleep and Shut Down options are working as expected. Tweak Power Options if required.

If hibernation is required in the future reverse the instructions above (using powercfg.exe -h on).

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18 thoughts on “hiberfil.sys Windows 8.1 Delete to Free Up SSD Space

  1. Pingback: Free Up Disk Space on Windows 8 with a Disk Cleanup -Tek Eye

  2. What a RIDICULOUSLY long winded bloated article just to need: \type powercfg -h off\ in command prompt.

    Geez

    • Thank you for reading the post and finding the information your needed. It’s not that long for an “article”, a lot of it is images. As an article it provides background information for those who are not familiar with the the more technical aspects of their computer and may be interested to learn some details. This gives them confidence deleting the hiberfil.sys system file and fully understanding the implications, especially novice laptop users. For those who are more experienced I’ve summarised the relevant command in the first paragraph.

      • I actually thought it was very short for a technical article. Very good article and thank you for posting. By looking at this persons picture, they’re clearly not the most intelligent person around.

    • I was looking for how to check if hiberation mode is actually off because it won’t say anything in the cmd after you input that command. This article is the only one I found that shows dir c:\ /ah command to check if hib is still using your storage space. So I thought that was a nice addition.

  3. @Tekeye: You’re so nice. Ivan’s comment would never see the light of day if this were my website and if it did, I’d make sure to give him a good piece of my mind.

    Anyway, thanks a million for saving me the hassle of deleting and setting up a larger windows partition on my macbook. You’re freaking amazing. *hugs*

  4. Pingback: How To Resize Your Macbook’s Partition Without Losing Data - Tech Tutorials

  5. Thank you. I had the command previously but it didn’t work. Probably because I hadn’t turned off hibernation in the control panel. After removing the file I gained 30 gb of space and saved a lot of money by not having to replace the drive with a larger one.

  6. Your article addressed my problem exactly (Win8.1 tablet with small SSD) where I wanted to remove Hiberfil.sys. Thank-you!

  7. Hi Daniel
    I’m late to the party but wanted to thank you very much for your very clear explanation. I’ve just deleted the hibernation file and regained 12GB for my hard drive. I wouldn’t have been game without your step-by-step instructions.
    Oh, and a quiet word to Ivan – clearly you’re an expert but I felt your comment was unnecessarily tactless.

  8. What a RIDICULOUSLY asinine comment to make about a very well thought out and thorough post, with screenshots to boot. I appreciate someone doing a good job at providing clarity to even simple subject matter… Hey Tek Eye – good job and keep it up.. Hey Ivan – quit being an asshat!

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