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Disk Cleanup \windows\system32\cleanmgr.exe

Reclaim disk space by removing unwanted files from your hard drive.

To Open

Start Programs Accessories System Tools Disk Cleanup

Command Prompt cleanmgr


Disk Cleanup summarizes the disk space used by several predefined types of files, such as Temporary Internet Files and items in the Recycle Bin (see Figure 4-24). If you have more than one hard drive, Disk Cleanup prompts you to choose one.

Figure 4-24. The Disk Cleanup dialog shows several locations of files that can probably be safely deleted

The main window presents a list of file categories from which desired items can be checked to have the corresponding files deleted. The approximate space to be reclaimed by any categories, shown to the right. Here are descriptions of the various categories:

Downloaded Program Files

This folder contains mostly ActiveX and Java applets downloaded from the Internet. If you clean out this folder, these components will simply be downloaded again when you revisit the sites that use them.

Temporary Internet Files

Temporary Internet Files, commonly known as the browser cache, are web pages and images from recently visited web sites, stored in your hard disk for the sole purpose of improving performance when browsing the Web. Deleting the files will have no adverse effects other than requiring that they be downloaded again the next time the corresponding web sites are visited.

You can set the maximum size of this folder using Control Panel [Network and Internet Connections] Internet Options General Settings Amount of disk space to use. Note that copies of cookie files (regularly stored in \Windows\Cookies\) for IE4 are also stored in this folder, but are not deleted along with other Internet files.

Recycle Bin

By default, files that are deleted aren’t really deleted; they are simply moved to the recycle bin for deletion at a later time. You can empty the Recycle Bin at any time by right-clicking the Recycle Bin icon on your Desktop and selecting Empty Recycle Bin. Right-click the Recycle Bin and select properties to change the maximum amount of disk space allocated to the storage of deleted files (or to disable the Recycle Bin and have files permanently erased immediately).

Temporary Files

Many applications open files to store temporary data, but aren’t especially meticulous about deleting those files when they’re no longer needed. Application crashes and power outages are other reasons why temporary files might be left behind. The disk space consumed by temporary files, especially after several weeks without maintenance, can be several megabytes.

WebClient/Publisher Temporary Files

These files are essentially the same as the Temporary Internet Files, kept around only for performance reasons, and can be safely deleted as well.

Temporary Offline Files, Offline Files

Temporary offline files are local copies of recently used documents normally stored on remote computers, and marked “Offline.” If you take advantage of the “Offline Files” feature in Windows XP, you may wish to examine the files in these folders before you indiscriminately delete them with this utility.

Compress old files

A feature of the NTFS filesystem is that files can be selectively compressed in place. This is a much more advanced version of DriveSpace (the disk compression utility included with Windows 9x/Me), and somewhat more transparent than .zip files. One of the features of NTFS compression is that “old” files can be compressed automatically to save disk space; the downside is a slight performance hit. Turn on this option to enable compression of all files; don’t bother if you don’t need the disk space. Click Options to specify the age past which a file is considered “old.” See the “NTFS Compression Utility”, later in this chapter, for more information.

Catalog files for the Content Indexer

The indexing service speeds up file searches by maintaining an index of some files on your hard disk. The index files can be safely deleted and rebuilt automatically.

In addition to the aforementioned categories, the More Options tab provides access to three other tools that can also reclaim disk space:

Windows components

Click Clean up to selectively add or remove optional Windows components; this is the same as Control Panel Add or Remove Programs Add/Remove Windows Components.

Installed programs

Click Clean up to selectively add or remove installed applications; this is the same as Control Panel Add or Remove Programs.

System Restore

This tool allows you to “roll back” your system to an earlier state (say, three weeks ago) before you installed those last seven applications. Although technically, use of this feature can result in reclaimed disk space, it is not an appropriate measure to take simply to increase the amount of free disk space, and should be used with extreme caution.

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