RAW Computing

Delete temporary files in Windows

As you work on your PC, Windows and the applications that you run create temporary files to store bits of information, cache information, unsaved backups and so on. These temporary files are often deleted automatically, but this is not always true and some temporary files are left on the hard disk drive. Over time they can build up.

It is very unlikely that you would ever get so many temporary files that they would become a problem, but it makes sense to keep the system clean of clutter. Hopefully, this will prevent problems from arising and you'll get a few megabytes of free space back too.

The problem is, where can all these temporary files be found? Here is a list of folders:

These are just Windows temporary folders and some applications may create their own additional ones. Some of these folders are in hidden locations, but there are two ways to access them. The first is using copy and paste. Click and drag over a path above and press Ctrl+C to copy it. Click Start (Vista/7) and press Ctrl+V to paste it in to the search box and then press Enter. An Explorer window opens to display the folder contents.

Alternatively you can open an Explorer window and navigate to the folders. You will need to show hidden files though. Open the Control Panel and click Folder Options to open it. On the View tab select Show hidden files, folders and drives. Now you can go to any of the folders above.

Some temporary files may be in use and so you might want to delete files over day old or files older than the last boot. Or you could just select everything and delete it, ignoring any files that display error messages because they are in use.

There is one other folder that contains temprary files, of a sort, and this is C:\Windows\Prefetch. Windows monitors the programs and files that are accessed when the computer starts up and it stores this information and other stuff in the Prefetch folder. I'm not convinced that cleaning it out helps the PC to run faster, so leave it.

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