How to Archive Unused Apps Without Deleting Them

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If your laptop or PC is low on storage, checking all the apps you have installed should be your first stop. This is often where you’ll find large files taking up a lot of space – it makes sense to get rid of the ones you don’t use.

For apps that haven’t been touched in months or even years, deleting them is a no-brainer. But for the ones you only use occasionally, the decision becomes much more difficult. Most people will end up keeping the app installed, using an external drive or cloud storage to free up space elsewhere.

However, there is an alternative. In Windows 11, Microsoft can automatically archive apps you’ve rarely used instead – this uninstalls them without deleting all system files from your device. If you ever need to use it again, the app can then be reinstalled on demand by connecting to Microsoft servers. That means it’s only available for apps you’ve downloaded from the Microsoft Store, but there’s a much bigger selection on offer in Windows 11 than Windows 10.

Apart from taking up little space compared to the full version, archived apps also don’t use internet bandwidth. Most apps use Wi-Fi even when they’re not open, but archiving should make your connection faster and more reliable.

Without further ado, here’s how to use the App Archive feature on Windows 11.

How to Enable or Disable Windows 11 App Archive Feature

By default, app archiving should be enabled in Windows 11. Here’s how to make sure or disable it if you’d rather not use it:

  1. On your Windows 11 device, open Settings
  2. Click on “Applications” in the left pane, then on “Applications and features” in the menu that appears

  3. Click “Advanced Application Settings”, the second option in the list, then “Application Archive”.
    Windows 11 Archive Apps
  4. The only thing you’ll find here is a toggle. Make sure it is in the “On” or “Off” position, depending on whether you want to use the feature or not
    Windows 11 Archive Apps

Keep in mind that Windows 11 will only be able to download archived apps if they are still available on the Microsoft Store. If you end up archiving an app that can’t be easily reinstalled, it’s worth disabling this setting.

When enabled, Microsoft says it will automatically archive apps you don’t use frequently. However, how often “frequently” means in this scenario is unclear.

In the future, it would be nice to see Microsoft allow you to archive application by application. For applications that take up more space and internet bandwidth, it would make sense to archive more aggressively.

Until then, archiving remains a useful way to free up space on Windows 11. But the operating system has many other powerful tools to achieve this, including storage sense, cleaning recommendations, and files. temporary ones that you can often delete. Just head to Settings > System > Storage to see the available options.

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