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If I look at my %TEMP% folder (that is, C:\Documents and Settings\Me\Local Settings\Temp\), I see some applications stick stuff in there, and some applications stick it into a subfolder off there. Sometimes those subfolders have names that can be traced back to the application or the author, and some are random.

  • Is there any best practice here?
  • Does it matter?
  • Does the whole folder get deleted if you do a disk cleanup?
  • What about C:\Windows\Temp? When is that used by applications other than Windows itself - if ever?
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  1. There is no best practice I'm familiar with. It is a directory for temporary files, and it is most likely going to look like a garbage can. As a developer, I find it easier for me to create a directory with my application's name and place all my files there, and even clean it if I can. But I think that is just a good habit - nothing that the OS will be upset about.

  2. It matters only to those that need these files. If you generate a lot of files and used them later - you need to keep track of them. It is easier when they are all in the same directory. Also, every operating system has a limitation to how many files a directory can hold, so it is never good practice to put many files in the same directory.

  3. Disk Cleanup allows you to delete it - it is not done automatically unless you configure it somehow.

  4. I personally favor C:\WINDOWS\Temp - so I change my %TEMP% to point to it. It is usually internal for Windows components, but Windows works fine if my junk goes there as well. I recall someone once told me that everything under C:\Documents and Settings\myuser is a part of the user profile - so the less files there the faster your computer is. I don't know if it is true, but I avoid putting temporary files there anyway.

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  • ...Cosmin was a close second – rossmcm May 23 '11 at 11:27
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C:\windows\temp is used by processes running as Local System, Local Service, and Network Service.

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