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In my folder

C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Local Settings\Temp

I accidentally find 7174 files using 2.9 GB.

Investigations show that many files are from uninstalled software (for example, DevPartner Studio).

Questions:

  • Is this 'normal'? Should it be that way?

  • Can I safely delete all theses files?

This machine is one year old. I installed some software on it, but I use VMs for test installations.

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migrated from serverfault.com Nov 6 '09 at 15:51

This question came from our site for professional system and network administrators.

1  
I started my computer this morning and there where 7 temporary files on it even as it was shut down for the night, this morning I had gotten rid of 21 temp files in three different time and have not used the computer at all –  user63696 Jan 18 '11 at 22:55
    
Try 5GB, had a friend who complained of extreme slowness. It took about three passes to delete all the detritus. Sort by date and take out anything older than a week. It's normal, some programs have really bad housekeeping, you read about their human relatives in the news all the time, the kind that die and leave a house full of garbage 'cause they couldn't bear to throw anything away. –  Fiasco Labs Jul 15 '12 at 17:37

4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

The temp folder is for temporary things. If the files are in use your delete of them will fail. If they are not in use, then delete them.

I've been deleting the temp folder contents since the days of Windows 95 with no ill-effects, in fact back then I used to be a domain admin and I had it set up so that the domain logon script would erase the temp folder every day when a user logged in.

The reason for the accumulation of junk is that there are many, many badly written / badly behaved programs that don't do a good enough job of cleaning up their crap.

Delete away. Remember to use SHIFT-DELETE key when deleting so they are really deleted instead of going to the recycle bin.

(It used to be the case the MS Word in particular was a bit sensitive to the number of temp files kicking around and would run slower and with less stability. That's probably no longer the case with more modern versions, but was one of the reasons I used to religiously clean out the temp folder.)

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WHAT? Telling people to always use Shift-Delete is HORRIBLE advice. –  Hello71 Jan 18 '11 at 22:47
3  
They are temporary files. I've been doing this for >15 years, no problem. SHIFT-delete, here is OK. If the user wants to get rid of junk, then moving it to the recycle bin won't make any difference to disk usage. OF COURSE, if the user wishes to plain delete (via the recycle bin) then thats just fine. You just won't see the disk use drop until the recycle bin is cleared. I WOULD NOT advocate using shift-delete (hard delete) anywhere else. –  quickly_now Jan 19 '11 at 4:03
    
A safer way to delete the contents of this folder is to use the solution referenced at stackoverflow.com/a/51069 to delete files and folders that are older than, say, 2 days. That way you won't be deleting something that is being used by an application. –  Richard Jul 15 '12 at 10:37

It's a temp folder; if applications are closed and there are no open file handles on the files, it should be save to erase them. I normally just cut and paste them to a temporary holding area for a bit and if nothing errors, crashes or complains delete them en mass.

Is it normal? It's not too unusual. Depends on the applications sticking thing there and how well written they are at cleaning up after themselves. Other times you have applications crashing that leave crap behind and don't check for old temp files at startup to clean up again. Cruft collects. Hard disk space whittles away.

Personal advice; move them to a temporary folder of your own making, if nothing happens after a day or two, delete them completely.

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+1, good tip about the holding area. –  quack quixote Nov 6 '09 at 14:11
    
I live on the edge I guess, I have never backed them up in 10 years, I delete them on a regular basis, hopefully it will not bite me in the arse one day. –  Moab Jan 18 '11 at 21:45

I use CLEANMGR.EXE to clean stuff like this.

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Interesting! Never heard about that command although its available on my machine. –  RED SOFT ADAIR-StefanWoe Nov 6 '09 at 14:02
    
CLEANMGR.EXE does not take care of this files. It ignores them. All it does is cleaning trash and some other stuff that only sums up to some hundret K. –  RED SOFT ADAIR-StefanWoe Nov 10 '09 at 10:56

On Windows 7, the personal temp folder has moved to C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Local\Temp\* and suffers the same indignities as all previous versions.

Sort by date, remove all folders older than 3 days, remove all files older than 3 days.

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1  
You could use the much shorter %temp% that works in XP/Vista/7 and probably older. By the way, there's also a %userprofile%, %appdata% (Roaming) and %localappdata%... –  Bob Jul 15 '12 at 18:05

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