Let’s step through some Windows files and folders that are totally safe to remove, and why you might want to do so. Note that some of these folders are in protected locations, so take care when deleting them.
1. The Hibernation File
Located at C:\hiberfil.sys
Hibernation mode on your PC is like sleep mode, but the system saves all your open work to the hard drive and then shuts down. You can remove the battery from your laptop and stay in hibernation for a week, then start back up and be right where you left off. Of course, this takes up space, which is what the hibernation file is for.
Depending on your hard drive size, the hibernation file is likely several gigabytes or more. If you don’t use hibernation and want to disable it, you can easily do so via the Command Prompt. Note that you shouldn’t just delete hiberfil.sys, as Windows will recreate it again.
Open a Command Prompt (Admin) by right-clicking on the Start Button. Type the following command to disable hibernation:
powercfg.exe /hibernate off
2. The Temp Folder
Located at C:\Windows\Temp
As you’d guess from the name, Windows temporary files aren’t important beyond their initial use. The files and folders inside contain info that Windows used at one time but doesn’t need anymore. You can visit this folder and delete everything inside by pressing Ctrl + A to select everything and then Delete. Windows might give you an error about a couple of items when you do this — just ignore those and clear everything else.
3. The Recycle Bin
Located at shell:RecycleBinFolder
You can access the Recycle Bin through the shortcut on your desktop. If you don’t have one, type shell:RecycleBinFolder into the Run menu (press Windows key + R) or the File Explorer navigation bar. Once here, you’ll see everything you’ve deleted recently. You can right-click on individual items and choose Delete to permanently erase them or Restore to send the file back to its original location. On the Ribbon above, you’ll see buttons to Empty Recycle Bin and Restore all items.
4. The Windows.old Folder
Located at C:\Windows.old
Windows automatically removes this folder after ten days (it was once 30 days), but you can remove it yourself if you’re crunched for space. It won’t delete if you try to go through the File Explorer, so type Disk Cleanup into the Start Menu and launch the tool. Click Clean up system files at the bottom of the window and let the utility do another scan. Once that’s done, look for the Previous Windows installation(s) and delete it using this tool.
5. Downloaded Program Files
Located at C:\Windows\Downloaded Program Files
Most home users don’t use IE anymore, let alone ActiveX. Your Downloaded Program Files folder might already be empty, but feel free to clean out its contents if it’s not.
The Best Way to Clean These Folders
We’ve mentioned several items that you can safely remove, but manually deleting them isn’t the best way to go about it. Aside from spending the time doing this yourself when it could be automated, it’s safer to let a tool do these cleanings for you. This avoids accidentally deleting files that you need, or messing with the wrong folders.
Which Windows Folders Do You Erase?
It takes a bit of looking around, but Windows holds plenty of files and folders that aren’t needed. Remember that your computer does a pretty good job of keeping itself clean, so you don’t have to obsessively remove the contents of these folders unless you’re really low on disk space. Running the Disk Cleanup tool once or twice a month will do plenty to keep the cruft away. You have better things to do than micromanage your PC’s temporary files.
Which additional Windows files and folders do you delete? Share your favorite useless folders with us in the comments!
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