Fully Cleanup Files on your Hard Disk Drive

Your overall PC speed can be slowed significantly by a growing list of files being saved on your hard disk drives. Especially if it is the same drive that contains your Windows operating system. While many users know about defragmenting their hard drives, many overlook the built-in drive cleanup within Windows.

Of course, modern super-capacity drives may not experience the same performance loss as older drives with less capacity. Regardless, it's a good idea to keep on top of the unnecessary file build-up on all of your PC's drives. Please be aware, the Disk Cleanup tool only works on Hard Disk Drives.

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How to use Disk Cleanup to Delete Unnecessary Files

Using the Disk Cleanup instructions and diagrams below, this tutorial will teach you how to effectively remove unnecessary files from your disk drive. If you have multiple drives, just re-do the steps for each one. Please note that the drive with Windows installed will usually have more folders to delete, unless you're an advanced user and have moved them to another drive.

Access Disk Cleanup.


Open Disk Cleanup

You can easily access Disk Cleanup by Left-Clicking the Windows Start Logo at the bottom left of your Desktop. Then type cleanmgr into the Search box and hit your Enter key - or select cleanmgr with your mouse.

Alternatively, open your Computer or My Computer folder (on your Desktop or in the Start Menu) and Right-Click on the Drive icon you want to clean up. Then select Properties and after the Drive's Properties box opens, Left-Click on Disk Cleanup.


Drive Selection

Select the Drive or partition you want to clean up. The (C:) drive is usually your main drive that contains the Windows operating system and your program files. After your selection is made, simply click the OK button. A box will pop up showing that Disk Cleanup is currently scanning your disk drive.

NOTE: Instructions for Steps 3 and 4 are below

Delete Files with Disk Cleanup.


Select Files to Delete

The real Disk Cleanup box finally makes an appearance. Look at the "Files to delete" box (Outlined in red), if you click on each one of them, a Description will be displayed underneath. For more in-depth descriptions for each category, please see our section, Which Files Should I Choose to Delete below. In some categories (not all) you can click the View Files button to go to the folder and see each individual file.


Permanently Delete Files

After checking the categories that you wish to delete, Left-Click on the OK button. You will be prompted with a box asking, "Are you sure you want to permanently delete these files?". If you wish to continue, Left-Click on the Delete Files button. A progress box will open and after the files that you selected have been deleted, the Disk Cleanup program will close automatically. Congratulations, your Disk Drive has just been cleaned and is now streamlined for improved performance.

Which Files Should I Choose to Delete?

Since every user's needs will differ, there are no absolutes in any suggestions we may make here. We can provide information to help you make a decision on which files to delete, but you will ultimately have to make the final decision yourself.

Note: Don't be alarmed if you do not see all of these categories within your setup. These are the ones that were listed within Disk Cleanup for me (Windows 7 64bit). Depending on your system configuration, you may have less or more than the ones listed here.

Disk Cleanup Category Descriptions:

Downloaded Program Files - When you surf the Internet, web sites will commonly place Java and ActiveX data on your disk drive. It may slow down the next visit to those sites if you delete them. We prefer to clean it up, since there's data here from web sites that we will probably never visit again taking up space on our hard drive for nothing. Also, ActiveX and Java can be a security threat due to the nature of the files and the way they're used.

Temporary Internet Files - Each web page you visit is placed here for quick retrieval on subsequent visits. You may notice when you go to a web page that takes a long time to load, when you hit the back button, it loads instantly. This is the result of your browser fetching the saved page directly from your hard drive. Again, this builds up over time for web sites you will never visit again, plus there's the privacy issues involved with this folder keeping a record of every web page you visit. Deleting this Temporary Internet Files will NOT remove your saved passwords and login data.

Offline Web pages - If you save your web pages to be viewed while offline, they are stored in this folder. If you delete them, you will need to visit the site in order to synchronize them again. We don't like to store offline web pages since we want the most up to date version of a web site each time we visit. You may still have some residual data in this folder from a previous surfing session.

Recycle Bin - Most PC users will empty the Recycle Bin from their Desktop, but this will also clear it in an identical fashion. It will remove the files from your system's file table. Of course, only the filename gets removed by Windows, the data will still be left lingering on your hard drive until it is written over by another file or you use a third party program to securely clean your hard drive.

Service Pack Backup Files - If you went through a major Windows Update Service Pack Upgrade, these are the older files that were saved so you can uninstall the Service Pack if any problems arise. If you just upgraded to a Service Pack, you may want to keep these files until you are sure everything is working perfectly. Once they're deleted, you will no longer be able to revert back to the pre-service pack configuration of Windows.

Temporary Files - Used to store temporary data while a program is running. The data is then deleted when the program closes. Occasionally, remnants of data will remain to possibly be used by a program once re-started. I have never had any problems deleting temporary files - I believe the program will just recreate any files it will need if not present in this folder.

Thumbnails - When you open a folder such as your Pictures folder - you will see little mini thumbnail previews of each pic. These are stored here to load instantly when you open a folder. If you delete them, the next time you open a folder, they will be re-created on the fly, slowing down how fast they are displayed as if it was the first time.

System queued Windows Error Reporting - These are saved files that have error information concerning PC problems such as crashes or freeze-ups. You may have been prompted at one time to send error information to Microsoft concerning a problem Windows has encountered. Well, here's where that data is stored.

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