What are Windows Temporary files? How are they created? How to Find and Delete Temporary Files?

Whatever you do on your Windows, the temporary files will be created.

This article contains the following:

  • How are the Temporary of Junk Files Created
  • How to Find & Delete Temporary or Junk Files

How are the Temporary Files Created

Temporary of Junk files are created in three ways – Software, Windows, and User.

1. How a Software Creates Temporary Files

All of the phases in the life of a software create temporary files.

  1. Install – Whenever you install a new software, the software creates its temporary files on the hard drive. This happen every time when you try to install files from removable sources. Even when the setup is download in the same PC a temporary folder is created to house the setup files. The executable .exe file that we download is actually a compressed file that contains other setup files. These setup files are extracted from the executable files to install the program. You must have noticed the “Copying files” status message during the start of installation process. An ideal software would delete these files and folders once the installation has completed.
  2. Update – Most programs automatically download and install their new versions in the background. They download and store the new or updates setup files in Windows’ temporary directories so that they are not visible to the user, which is the whole point of a background service. The background update service updates the program and notifies the user to restart that program. These update files are not always deleted from the Temp directory of Windows. You can see them laying there.
  3. Uninstall – Even the Uninstallation leaves various type of junk files such as – files, folders, registry keys, and shortcuts. You can find the traces in Program Files, Program Data, User Libraries, AppData Temp folder, Windows Temp folder, and all three of the AppData folders.
    The registry keys related to programs are in Windows Registry.
    The Start Menu folder contains shortcuts related to the programs.
  4. Use – Running a program also creates temporary files. For example, when you work of Microsoft Word, as .tmp file is placed at the Desktop as long as you are working on it and have not finished or saved that document. Most of the times, the temporary files are not deleted by the programs. All of the programs create temporary files; you can see this in the AppData temporary folder. You cannot clear all of the temporary files unless all of the running programs are stopped.

2. How Windows Creates Temporary Files

  1. Windows Upgrade files – These are the regularly downloaded Windows update files.
  2. Downloaded Program files – These are the files that Microsoft downloads from its servers to install or update its previously installed application software or drivers. Some of the example are Windows software, apps, and runtimes.
  3. Memory Dumps – Memory Dumps are the files that contain the information regarding system crashes. These dumps are collected when Windows runs its Windows Error Reporting service to get information about crashes. For example, if you have encountered a BSOD, then a dump file must have been created regarding that crash.
  4. Temporary files – These contain the Program Cache or the temporary files created by programs other than Web browsers.
  5. Temporary Internet files – The Temporary Internet files deletes browser data only from Microsoft Web Browsers such as Internet Explorer and Edge.
  6. Thumbnails – Thumbnails refer to the preview icon that we see in place of media files – Image, Video, and Audio. If the thumbnails are disabled then the icon of the player set to open those files will be visible. These thumbnails also use some space.

3. How a User Creates Temporary Files

  1. Web browser Cache – A web browser is the most used software in a computer, and Cache is the biggest culprit of temporary file in web browsers.
    Cache is the data saved from the websites that you have already visited. The web browser downloads these temporary files when you visit a website for the first time, and pre-loads them whenever you visit that site again to open the pages of that website faster. A website whose cache is already present on the computer would open a lot faster than a website whose cache is not.
    Deleting cache regularly is not useful. It saves disk space for some time but it also decreases the browsing speed for the next few sessions. Because now the temporary data (or cache) of all those websites that the user had previously visited, will be regenerated. So, cache always comes back. Deleting cache every two-three months is a good habit.
    Cache actually increases the browsing speed. For example, when you visit Google for the first time, the web browser saves information from Google’s page such as icons, images, scripts, etc. When you visit other pages of Google, your browser won’t have to save or download those items again because they are already present in the cache.
    Other types of temporary files generated by web browsers are – Cookies, Bookmarks, History, and Passwords.
  2. Installing unwanted programs – These include software that the user installed intentionally as well as unintentionally.
    Intentionally are those programs that user installs for one time use, and then never uninstalls
    The unintentionally are those that are download and installs due to user negligence during installing other software, these are called the Potentially Unwanted Programs or PUP.
  3. Duplicate files – This is a very common problem. Most of the times, the Desktop is the location that contains most of the duplicate files on the system. The chances of duplicate files decrease drastically if you keep your Desktop organized.
  4. Obsolete Setup files – These are the software installer or the executable files that the user downloads to install that program. The problem is that once downloaded they never get deleted by the user. The original program may have updated itself to a much higher version, but the older setup files still remains is the system. There’s no point in keeping them
  5. Recycle Bin – This is delicate region. Files deleted from Recycle Bin won’t come back (easily). Recycle Bin is also a kind of temporary directory for the files that are almost gone from the system. The size of Recycle Bin can be customised. So to save some space, try reducing the size of Recycle Bin.

How to Find & Delete Temporary or Junk Files

There are three ways to do this:

1. Using Windows In-built tool – Disk Cleanup

Disk Cleanup is a very good utility. The only drawback is its inability to delete the temporary data created by third-party programs such as non-Microsoft web browser cache.

2. Using a third-party tool – CCleaner

CCleaner is the most popular PC Cleaner software. It can delete most of the junk files from your computer safely. You can customize its cleaning process. It can delete the temporary data created by the third-party programs installed on the computer

3. Manual Cleaning

If you do not want to run CCleaner or Disk Cleanup regularly then there are is a simple manual way to keep your system junk-free. It only takes a few seconds.

  • Press Windows + R keys together to open the Run dialog box.
  • Type %temp% in the text field, and press OK. This will open the following directory:
  • Click Ctrl + A to select all of the files and folders present in the directory.
  • Press Shift + Delete to delete permanently; press Yes in the pop-up box.
  • If it displays a File In Use message box, then tick the checkbox next to the option that says Do this for all current items, and press Skip.
  • You can use the same method to delete temporary files from another location here: C:\Windows\Temp.

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