PC question - deleting Temporary Internet Files

I house-sat for my parents a while back, and web-surfed using their computer. My mom told me her computer had gotten a lot slower, since my web-surfing had created a ton of temp files. She has both Netscape and MS Internet Explorer on her machine; she at least has the good sense to use Netscape. I used Explorer and it created a kazillion temporary files. She asked me to remove them, which I did, leaving this Macintosh-user with several questions:

  1. What’s so Temporary about them if you have to delete them manually? What they delete themselves over time? How long?

  2. Is there a quick way to delete them en masse? I right-clicked, chose Select All, and then Delete, and it gave me a kazillion dialog boxes asking me if it was okay to delete such-and-such a cookies. (There was no “Yes to All” option.) I’ve never had to delete cookies manually before. I also tried dragging them into the recycle been, but Windows was having none of that.

  3. How much does just having a bunch of stuff on your hard drive slow you down? Can’t the machine just ignore that part of that drive? (Serious computer ignorance here; don’t laugh too loud.) I know have a heavily fragmented drive can be slow, but I’m surprised a bunch of gifs and cookies are that bad.

  4. The machine gave me a bunch of warning that I was deleting Windows systems files, saying it might not run properly if I deleted them. I regretted doing it as soon as I had, not knowing if I have inadvertantly sabotaged mum’s computer. What’s up with system files in a Temporary Internet Files folder? If her machine does quit running, what can she do? Re-install Windows? Re-install Explorer? Get a new computer (hint!)

For most answers, Boris B, you’ll have to go into the options menu for IE (either through the control panel, or through the View menu). Here you can

  1. specify that IE remove all temporary files after closing. This option is under the Advanced tab, in the security section. Make sure “Delete saved pages when browser close” is checked.

  2. delete files en masse through the General tab on the same Options menu. There is a button for deleting files and it will ask if you want to also delete cookies. You won’t be asked permission for every darn cookie this way. There is also a settings to indicate to IE whether it should look into the temporary cache for the html page or if it should check for a new version of the page each time you go there. The former is faster (which is why we deal with temporary files in the first place).

For your other questions, all I can really say is that Windows requires a certain amount of space to work efficiently. If that space gets compromised by lots of temporary files, it takes WIndows a lot longer to do the tasks necessary because there isn’t enough space for it to write it’s own temporary files to. Additionally, everytime we write anything to a disk, we add to the fragmentation of the disk. If we have a nice, clean disk with little on it, files get written in sequence. But once we start running out of room, and erasing files, the space that future files get written to gets chopped up. So part of the file might go here and part goes there. The disk may need to spin several times in order to read the entire file and that contributes to the slow speed. I’m sure I’ve mangled this part of my “explanation” and someone will give you the real story.

As for your system files being deleted, was Mom able to boot her computer?

I don’t know about Netscape, but in IE, click on “Tools” up top when you have a browser window open, select “Internet Options”, another window will open. On the first tab “General” you should see a “Delete Temporary Internet Files” option. There’s also a “Settings” button, which you can use to set the amount of disk space allocated to temporary files. When the amount is used up, IE will start getting rid of files automatically to make room for new ones. The reason, I suppose her net surfing has gotten slower is becuase the disk space amount had been used up and whenever a new page was acessed, IE had to take time to delete files to make room for new ones. Hope this helps.

Beaten to it. :slight_smile:

I would use the Maintenance Wizard, which is part of windoz, to do this automatically…spiffy.

I have used System Mechanic (from http://www.iolo.com) and this not only can delete internet temp. files and cookies but a host of other unwanted and duplicate material that can accumulate on your hard disk.There is also a feature to securely delete files.The program is not cheap (about 60 US dollars) but is well worth while especially if , like me , you have only a small capacity HD.

Another way to delete temporary Internet files and other files is through Accessories/System Tools/Disk Cleanup. Just check the boxes you want and go.

Also, Fred Langa, late of Windows Magazine and Byte, has a batch file which “aggressively cleans up all Temp files, compacts your Registry and Cookies Index, and empties the Temporary Internet File (TIF) area.” It can be found at
http://www.langa.com/cleanall_bat.htm . Read ALL the instructions before using it.

I still have to move the cookies to the recycle bin manually, but the McAfee Uninstaller helps me dump the temporary internet files, and rec. bin, and several other things as well before I shut down. I got it for free when I bought something else from them.


Well thanks for all your replies. I’ll be digesting the possibilities for a while!

Well, I think the worst has not happened, since she was at least able to send me an email (about another topic). I’m just worried some obsure Windows function just won’t happen, weeks down the road. Oh well, I’ll just cross the old fingers.

RE: System files in Temporary Internet Files…

Any “specialized” file in Windows is usually a “System file”. People who have Windows ME will note the “My Pictures” folder, for example.

Anyway, to keep things “sorted”, Windows creates random folders (with names like “VYR54897TV79” or the like) to keep files in, rather than shove them all in a single directory. I’m not exactly sure what method there is to this madness, however. Anyway, if you just cleared out everything in Temp. 'Net Files, you probably got these folders… if so, IE will automatically create new ones as needed.

Just an addition IE6 (available for download on MS site now), makes some improvemnt in this area. It includes a delete cookie option which wont ask you each time if you want to delete.

Personally I wrote a little batch file which will delete the contents of all the directories where cookies and tempfiles are stored. I’ve set it to run minimized at start up and shutdown. Pretty simple to do. Details ? Mail me.