C:/Windows/TEMP folder - what's all this crap and can I delete it safely?

I was browsing through my computer this afternoon trying to come up with things I can delete to clear up some more hard drive space, and I came upon the C:/Windows/TEMP/ folder. There’s a whole freaking lot of stuff in this folder and a bazillion subfolders. My brain reads “Temp” and thinks “Temporary” and therefore thinks that this is stuff I theoretically should not need and should be able to delete without screwing up my computer. Is this the case, or am I a dork? Can I get rid of this crap?

(BTW I’m running Windows ME on a 2-3 year-old HP Pavilion)


It’s supposed to be a good idea.


Yes, they’re temporary files and it’s ok to delete them. You should probably sort them by date modified (switch to Details under the View menu then click the Modified heading) and delete any that weren’t modified in the last couple of days.

You can also run the Disk Cleanup utility by going to Start|Run and typing cleanmgr. This will give you the option to delete several different types of temporary files at once.

copy them to another directory first, then restart & see if things are okay. If not, you can always copy them back.

If there’s anything being used there, you shouldn’t be able to delete it. If you don’t have anything running, feel free to delete everything in there. Most of it should be deleted by the originating programs, but for whatever reason, they sometimes don’t.

Among other things, most days mine is full of Winzip files, unpacked installation files, and (for some insane reason), thousands of 707 byte files created by ICQ Lite containing the Javascript for its banner ads. :confused: Sure wish I could stop that.

So this is the corner that Windows goes to poop in and forget about? Why are these files not cleaned up regularly, or by their creator programs?

Because programmers make mistakes, or may be working with an application which protects user content by storing changes in temp files, updating the ‘real’ file only during a save, and keeping the temp file in case of a crash. At least, that’s how Word uses them.

You can fairly easily set up Windows to automatically delete them using scheduler, regedit, or half a dozen other ways. You can have them deleted on startup, shutdown, or at a specific time, date, or re-occurring date.

Went in and deleted everything (except the “Temporary Internet files” “History” and “Cookies” subfolders, which I think are important) and have had no problems. Thanks guys, there was quite a lot of crap in there.

My advice would be to change the name of the folder or move everything to another folder if you’re not sure. Then delete them in a few weeks if everything’s fine.

The idea of TEMP is that , as you’d guess, programs can put temporary files there, so that you know where they are, and when you spring-clean you can delete them all. I mean, nothing stops a program needing files in the temp directory, except that it’d be really stupid.

Also defrag the registry if you can. Alot of links in it still point to crap that isn’t there.

That ICQ lite… I wnet into my temp directory and found 15 501 files that it had dropped there: over 10 megs of little HTML files. It took XP half an hour to delete them.

Something tells me that that program, or at least its ad subsystem, has a couple of design flaws…

Sometimes a program crashes before it gets around to deleting its temp files. Also, sometimes the whole OS crashes or hangs, so none of the running programs get a chance to delete their temp files.

You can also delete the temporary internet files if they are older than the current date. This is placed in the cache on your hard drive, for faster retrieval - similar to the RAM, but it saves RAM by putting it in the hard drive’s cache. Deleting it is no big deal, as it will just take longer for your computer to retrieve it.