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IMMEDIATE - How to clean up your hard drive to increase free space

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#1 Ztruker


    WTT Technical Elder

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  • Interests:Helping people fix MS Windows related computer problems of all kinds.

    Waking each morning to see the green side of the Earth!

Posted 10 March 2009 - 07:33 PM

Note: If a topic is underlined, then it's a link you can click on to go directly to that area.

There are many reasons why you would want to do this, such as:
  • Running out of space on your hard drive
  • System is running slow
  • System Restore points are not being created
  • Corrupted or infected System Restore points
  • Browser is slow
We will address 5 areas in this tutorial.
  • Delete system temporary files
  • Delete TIF (Temporary Internet Files)
  • Delete other areas where junk collects over time
  • Delete old/infected System Restore points
  • Uninstall programs you don't need or use
Areas 1, 2 and 3 can be handled manually but it's much easier and more thorough if you use some of the following tools.
  • Windows XP Disk Cleanup
  • CCleaner
  • ATF Cleaner
  • TFC (Temp File Cleaner)
It's not unusual after using these programs for the computer to be slower the first time it boots.

All will delete junk files (temporary files) that accumulate in various places on your hard drive, like Temporary Internet Files (TIF), files in temp folders (Windows\Temp, Documents and Settings\youruserid\Local Settings\Temp, etc.) as well as files from other areas, like Cookies, Browser History, MRU Cache, etc. etc., except for TFC. TFC only works on files in temp folders and does a more thorough job of removing them than the other tools as it looks in more places.

If you have any questions or concerns about following the directions in this tip, please start a NEWTOPIC in the Microsoft Windows™ forum and one of the techs will be happy to help, or, if you already have a thread going just ask your question there.

Windows XP Disk Cleanup
  • Open My Computer
  • Right click on your boot drive which is usually C: and select Properties
  • On the General tab, click on Disk Cleanup
You will get a window saying cleanup is calculating the amount of space it can free up. Wait until it finishes, then you will end up at the Disk Cleanup for xxxxxx window. I always uncheck Compress old files since I don't trust XP to compress only files I no longer need.

You can select each entry in the Files to Delete list and then click View Files to see exactly what will be deleted.

Once you are satisfied with your selections, click OK to start the cleanup.You will get a window asking if you are sure you want to perform these actions, click Yes. When Disk Cleanup ends, the window closes. You can then close the other Properties and My Computer windows.

This guide addresses the Cleaner and Tool areas of CCleaner. Please do not use the Registry area unless you
  • Know what you are doing
  • Have a full backup of the registry using ERUNT
Download and install CCleaner - Slim. IF you don't download the Slim version, make sure during the install process you uncheck the Add CCleaner Yahoo! Toolbar and use CCLeaner from your Browser check box. You do not need to add a (or add another) toolbar to your browser to slow things down and possibly cause other problems.

Start CCleaner. Before doing anything else, click on Options on the left then click on Advanced and uncheck Only delete files in Windows Temp folders older than 48 hours.

Click on Cleaner on the left and look through the selections under the Windows and Applications tabs. Uncheck the ones you don't want cleaned up. For instance, on my XP SP3 system I uncheck:
Windows tab:
  • Internet Explorer - Cookies, History, Recently Typed URLs, Last Download Location, Autocomplete Form History.
  • Windows Explorer - All
  • System - Memory Dumps <- Very Important
Applications tab:
  • Firefox/Mozilla - Cookies, Download History, Internet History, Saved Form Information
  • Opera - Cookies, Internet History
  • Applications - Office XP
The entries listed under Windows and Applications will vary, depending on what is installed on your system

Click on Analyze to see what CCleaner will delete. Once you are satisfied with the choices, click Run CCleaner to delete the files and folders listed. If you've not done this before, it can result in a significant increase in hard drive free space.

To increase the locations CCleaner scrubs, you can install Winapp2.ini from the Piriform site. As the page says,

These entries are not supported by Piriform. These entries have not been tested by the maker of CCleaner. Use these at your own risk, these entries were created and tested by users of the CCleaner Forum. Piriform can not be held responsible for any action that these entries do. If you find a bad entry, please report it to me by Personal Message and I will look into the matter.

so definitely run Analyze the first time you use it. I noticed it would delete Acronis True Image logs which I definitely want to keep so I unchecked that selection. (added 06/14/2009)

ATF Cleaner
Download ATF Cleaner then run it. It does not have to be installed. On the Main window, select (at a minimum):
  • Windows Temp
  • All Users Temp
  • Temporary Internet Files
  • Java Cache
  • Recycle Bin
Cookies, Prefetch and History are up to you. I prefer to leave them alone as I depend on Cookies and History for easier web browsing. I also don't see any point in clearing Prefetch since XP will just rebuild it over time. It won't hurt, just slows things down a little for a short time.

Like CCleaner, ATF-Cleaner will delete files from the areas you check, but unlike CCleaner there is no Analyze button that allows you to see what will be deleted. Once you click the Empty Selected button, the files in the areas you checked will be deleted. Some folks prefer it because of it's simpler interface. Which one you use is a matter of personal preference.

TFC (Temp File Cleaner) (added 06/19/2009)
WARNING: TFC will stop Explorer and all other running applications. Stopping Explorer means your Desktop goes away. Stopping other applications like your browser, word processor, spread sheet, etc. means any data you have not saved will be lost, so it is imperative you save your data and close all applications before running TFC. This is necessary to reduce the number of files in temp folders being in use and not deletable. When finished, TFC restarts your Explorer and your Desktop reappears. It does not restart any other applications it ended. If a reboot is required, you must reboot to finish clearing files that were in use (locked) by some other process.

Download TFC (Temp File Cleaner) then run it. It will not run from a TEMP directory. It does not have to be installed. Just double click on TFC.exe. Click Start when your ready to begin.

Once it finishes, if a reboot is necessary allow this to happen. Otherwise, click Exit to close the window. Since TFC closes other running applications, it would be a good idea to reboot at this point whether it's required or not.

Delete old or infected System Restore points
There are two ways to do this.
  • Delete all but the most recent System Restore point (just free up hard drive space)
  • Delete all System Restore points and create a new one (may be necessary if malware is present)
To delete all but the most recent System Restore point, do the following:
  • Open My Computer.
  • Right click on your XP boot drive and select Properties. Normally this will be C:.
  • Click on the Disk Cleanup button. The Disk Cleanup window will open. Wait for it to finish then the main Disk Cleanup window will open.
  • Click on the More Options tab.
  • Click on the Clean up... button under System Restore.Click Yes when you get the Are you sure you want to delete all but the most recent restore point prompt
  • Close all windows you opened for this procedure.
To delete all System Restore points, do the following:
  • Click on Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools and finally System Restore.
  • Click on System Restore Settings on the lower, left side.
  • Check Turn off System Restore on all drives, then click Apply and wait for it to complete. This will delete all existing restore points.
  • Uncheck Turn off System Restore on all drives, then click Apply and wait for it to complete. This will create a new System Restore point.
  • Close the System Properties window.
See How to free up space on your hard drive - long term for additional steps you can take to reduce hard drive usage on a long term basis.

Uninstall unneeded programs:
I'll cover three ways to do this.
  • Use the built in XP Add or Remove Programs Control Panel applet
  • Use the Tools section of CCleaner
  • Download, install and run Revo Uninstaller
When using any of these methods, please make very sure you know what you are uninstalling. If you are not sure or have any questions, please ask for help in the Microsoft Windows™ forum. Uninstalling the wrong software or driver can make your computer unusable.

XP Add or Remove Programs
There are two ways to get to Add or Remove Programs.
  • Click on Start then Run, type appwiz.cpl and press Enter or click OK
  • Click on Start then Control Panel (or Settings then Control Panel if using Classic mode) then double click on Add or Remove Programs.
Review the list of Currently Installed Programs. Once you have decided which ones you want to remove, click on it's name and a Change or Change/Remove button will be displayed. Click on it and follow instructions.

CCleaner Tools
Start CCleaner. Click on Tools on the left side. A list of installed programs will be displayed. As above, once you decide what you want to remove, click on it, only this time, click the Run Uninstaller button and follow instructions. DO NOT use the Delete Entry button unless you know for sure the program has already been deleted and just the entry in the installed programs area of the registry remains.

Revo Uninstaller
Revo can do many other functions besides uninstalling programs, so please be careful when using it. I will address just the Uninstaller function.

Download, install and run Revo Uninstaller. Make sure Uninstaller is selected at the top. As with the previous uninstallers, review what is shown and decide what you want to remove. Right click on each one in turn and select Uninstall then follow instructions.

The primary advantage Revo has over the other methods is that it will also scan the registry and remove any remnants of the program you just uninstalled. For this reason, I strongly urge you to make a full backup of the registry using ERUNT BEFORE using Revo.

Edited by Ztruker, 03 December 2010 - 08:25 PM.


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