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Temporary Files That Can Be Deleted Safely

By Tom Cumming


Windows and various applications create temporary files as they are working that are deleted automatically when the program ends. However if your computer crashes, is shut down incorrectly, or if a program is just badly written, sometimes they do not get deleted.

The extention .tmp normally signifies a temporary file. However there are some programs (not very many) that use .tmp for templates, so be careful you do not delete your templates. Any files in the system's temporary files folder, normally c:\windows\temp, are also temporary files.

It is safe to delete any temporary files if they were created during a previous windows session (ie, your computer has been rebooted since they were created) as they cannot possibly be being used now. If you attempt to delete any temporary files that are still in use, Windows will normally give you an "access denied" type error, so you do not "upset" a program that is using the file. So normally if you see any files in your temporary folder or with a .tmp extention, that you do not recognise as being a
template, you can just delete them and if a program is using them then Windows will step in and tell you off.

If you wish to have temporary files removed automatically, some versions of windows include the Maintenence Wizard. Click Start/Run/ and type TUNEUP. This allows you to delete temporary files, and run scandisk and defrag, at predefined regular times, so you do not have to do it manually. However, this program does have a serious shortcoming, which is that it does not recognise folders within the temporary files folder. Therefore, it is better to empty the folder manually, or use a third-party program such as the freeware Empty Temp Folders from HERE to do it for you.

Some people also like to empty out their temporary files using DOS commands in the autoexec.bat file. However this is generally not a good idea as some installation routines that restart the computer refer to them after the restart. (If you don't know what the autoexec.bat file is, don't worry, it's being phased out of Windows anyway so it's not worth learning about.)

There is also the temporary internet files folder, normally c:\windows\temporary internet files, which stores bits and pieces off of websites that you visit to make them load faster in the future. These can also be deleted, though it is normally best not to delete any text files you find in this folder: these are called "cookies" and are created by websites to store your own personalised settings on that site.

You can reduce (or increase!) the amount of space this folder is allowed by going to start/settings/control panel/internet options/"general" tab, and clicking the "settings" button in the temporary internet files section. This folder can also be emptied out by Empty Temp folders. The link is above


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