An area which I often overlook in my attempt to clean my PC are temporary files. Whether I like it or not, temporary files exists in the system so long as there are application software installed in my system.
You see, programs create data. Even though you may not think they’re creating data, they frequently are. Large application software is the main culprit in file creation. Besides creating a document, a workbook, a spreadsheet, or a graphic, it also often creates temporary files.
Temporary files as the word implies are meant to be just that – temporary. They’re intended by their creators to keep data for a limited time and then be removed. However, this is not always true. They end up staying in the hard drive, sitting quietly and taking up space.
Temporary files accumulate on your system once the program that created them never gets around to removing them. Probably the program was terminated abnormally, before it could remove the files. Maybe the program has a bug that precluded the removal. One thing is certain i.e. unwanted temporary files are cluttering up your system.
Temporary files group together in temporary folders. The folders are temporary; they’re utilized just as repositories for temporary files by specific applications or by the operating system itself. Once you locate the temporary folders on your machine, you’ll discover a pile of temporary files for likely removal.
Follow below steps to find the potential candidates for temporary folders and thereafter to remove their contents:
1. Click the Start menu button.
2. In the left pane, select All Files and Folders.
3. In All Or Part Of The File Name Box, enter temp.
4. In Look In box, select Local Hard Drives.
5. Click on More Advanced Options. Make sure Search Hidden Files and Folders box is checked.
6. Finally, click Search button.
After a brief period, you should see a number of different folder and file names start appearing in the search results. Some of the matches aren’t applicable because you may get folder names such as Templates or systemprofile. (Notice that both contain the letters temp.) Other matches are explicitly meant to keep temporary files, with names such as InstallTemp, WUTemp, or Temporary Internet Files. The main point here is that each of these folders may have outdated files that you can get rid of.
Once you’ve identified would-be candidates for temporary files that can be deleted, you need to open each folder, analyze its contents, and determine whether you need to retain the files. If you decide to erase them, erase only the files inside the folder, not the folder itself. Anyway, should you decide to get rid of the folder, rename the folder, such as holdtemp or holdInstallTemp. Subsequently, when you later restart Windows and use it for a while, monitor whether your system generates any errors. If your system works fine, you can fully delete the folder.
If you don’t like all the unnecessary info that shows up in the Search Results dialog box, try doing your search from the command line. Open a command line window (Start > All Programs > Accessories > Command Prompt) and enter the following two commands, each on its own line:
dir temp.* /ad /s /b
The result is a short list of all the directories named Temp on the current drive.
Knowing the need to delete the temporary files, you may ask, “What are the files that I can safely delete?” I am glad that you asked and let me show you. The answer to locating temporary files is to recognize that they often have characteristics in common. Use the Windows Search feature to locate the different files on your system that have these characteristics:
.tmp extension: Undoubtedly, the commonest indicator of a temporary file is one that ends in the .tmp extension. If you see a file called RMSA.TMP, you’re practically assured that is a temporary file, ready for removal.
Tilde (~) as first character: Some programs generate temporary files that starts with a tilde. For example, you may see a file named ~WRL0003.TMP or ~$OGARTICLE_05.DOC.
Zero file length: Sometimes, a program may create temporary files and store nothing in them. They have zero byte because these files don’t have any characters. They serve no function except occupying space in the folder; proceed to delete them.
.bak extension: These files aren’t temporary in the real sense of the word. Rather, they’re backup files, often generated by software. If the file is old, odds are good that the file is no longer required and you can safely remove.
.old extension: When programs update some files, they rename the original file with the .old extension. If you see files such as ENTRIES.OLD or SCECOMP.OLD, remove them.
Before you proceed searching for the files, it is advisable that you quit all of the programs you’re running. You never know whether those programs are generating temporary files. If so, you won’t be able to remove the files. If you quit the programs, they should get rid of the temporary files with which they were working. The benefit is less “false positives” when performing your search.
If your PC is on a network, make sure that no network users are accessing your system. If files on your system are accessible through the network, those files’ users could be creating some of your temporary files. For example, if a Word document is on your system and someone opens it remotely, their Word program creates a number of temporary files on your system while working with the document.
You would be surprised to know that the amount of data collected can be staggering. Now that you and I know how to clean my PC, let’s get started.