Copyright Michael Karbo, Denmark, Europe.

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    Chapter 13. The temporary files

    A hard disk contains many types of files. One of the more troublesome kinds is temporary files. They are files, which are only for use for a limited space of time they are temporary.

    These temporary files are generated all the time in a computer without you being aware of it. They are, however, difficult to control because they are as standard stored in the most mysterious subfolders.

    Temporary files take up valuable room and they contribute to the fragmentation of the hard disk. So their volume must be minimized!

    Temporary files ought to be deleted

    Temporary files have only temporary importance and ought to only have a temporary existence. They are files produced by different sorts of programs during program flow. The system is, in fact, rather smart; programs such as Internet Explorer produce an enormous amount of temporary data while you surf around on the net and the files can be deleted when you no longer have use for them. But this is difficult to do: to delete the files. Windows often forgets to do it and the files accumulate. It is the same for both Windows and Internet Explorer, large amounts of temporary files are produced, which aren't always deleted. This is sloppy practice.

    I prefer to place as many as possible of these temporary files in the folder C:\Temp. This is a folder I have created myself and, which I use for this sort of file garbage. It is a folder that ought to be emptied now and again.

    A browser's cache

    While you surf on the net a whole lot of files are copied from the web servers you visit with your computer. The browser simply collects HTML documents, small graphic files and much more material in a so-called cache. All of it is stored locally, otherwise the pages can't be displayed in the browser.

    When using Microsoft Internet Explorer for browsing, you should be aware of these cached files. They are usually to be found in a folder such as:

    C:\Documents and Settings\Username\Local settings\Temporary Internet Files

    Try yourself to localize the folder with Windows Explorer. Really a lot of data can be accumulated here. Only a single visit to Microsoft's website and the cache is well filled up.

    Figure 70. Every time you use Internet Explorer loads of all sorts of small files are collected together on the hard disk.

    You ought to make sure that the cache takes up as little room as possible and that it is placed in a folder that can be controlled.

    In the menu Functions --> Internet settings, select Temporary Internet files. Then you can see the settings. My computer gives all of 2,3 GB room to the cache! This is vastly exaggerated:

    Figure 71. The standard settings for cache in the Internet Explorer. It must be changed!

    The smallest amount of disk room that can be selected is 1 MB. The folder can be moved at the same time. Give, for example, the previously mentioned C:\Temp as the new location. Please note that Windows has to be logged off before the alteration can be brought into effect:

    Much of the temporary file material is, you see, locked while in use. You cannot, for example, just delete these files; you have to log off the computer first. If you logon with another username with administration rights then it is possible to delete the cache and cookies, etc.

    In this situation Windows itself copes with the situation; when you logon again, the temporary files are moved to a new folder.

    Figure 72. The new settings for the browser's cache.

    Another good way of doing it is to ask Internet Explorer to empty the cache every time the program is closed. This is done via the tab Advanced in Internet settings. This option is found in the section Security:

    Figure 73. The cache is then emptied when the program is closed.

    All browsers use a cache folder to store temporary files. Later on in the booklet I am going to describe the two browsers Mozilla and Mozilla FireFox, which also have settings for, which folder the cache is to be stored in and how much space it ought to take up.

    Figure 74. Settings for the cache in the browser Mozilla.


    Cookies are also a very irritating phenomenon. They are small files, which come onto your hard disk while you are surfing on the net. Cookies can be necessary on a hard disk when you, for example, shop online but they ought to generally be deleted after use. Windows XP place cookies in a folder like:

    C:\Documents and Settings\Username

    Check the folder on your own computer and see what you have there. Unfortunately it is rather complicated determining to what degree Internet Explorer may place cookies in a computer. It is much easier to control with the Mozilla browser, which is described later on in the booklet.

    Figure 75. The settings for cookies are hidden well away in Internet Explorer. These settings work quite sensibly.

    Cookies can and ought to be deleted, if you can mange to find them on the hard disk. The exception is the folder index.dat, which is always found in the folder Cookies. You have to login as another user to be allowed to delete them. The same method is fine with other obstinate cache files on the hard disk. Later on in the booklet I will show a script, which can also be used for the clearing out of old cookies (see page 82).

    Figure 76. Setting of cookies in Mozilla FireFox .

    Windows' own temporary files

    Windows have also a substantial production of temporary files. Try checking this folder:


    and maybe this:

    C:\Documents and Settings\
    Username\Local settings\Temp

    There can be a great deal of unusual files and folders here. Much of it ought to have been deleted by Windows and other user programs but for different reasons it isn't always done. You don't have to be afraid of deleting things yourself in the folders. Windows locks the temporary files, which are in effect active, so that they can't be deleted. Throw the others out.

    You can control the location of these temporary files yourself. This is done via the tab Advanced in the dialog box Properties for the system. Click on the button Environment variables:

    Then you can change the values for TEMP and TMP, which refer to the folders that Windows' temporary files are stored in. They can, for example, be placed in a subfolder to the folder C:\Temp, which is also used for other file garbage:

    Try really getting rid of temporary files and keep and eye on the Temp folders. There ought not to be any old files in them; the folders are intended for day-to-day temporary files and nothing else. On page 61 I will how you how the shareware program Reg Organizer can be used to localise temporary files across all drives and folders.

    Yet more control

    Software is found which is better at moving Windows' systems folders around. The problem is that many of the settings are saved in Windows' registry database, which not very many ordinary users would try to alter. But it can be done. The register editor is called Regedit. You can, for example, search (with F3) for the text cookies. The registry editor will display a collection of keys called Shell folders in the left window:

    In the window on the right you can see the keys that control the localization of a great number of Windows' system folders:

    Figure 77. The registry editor has found the key, which determines the placing of the cookies folder.

    By double clicking on Cookies you get access to correct the path to the folder. I have to say that you can get involved in big problems by interfering in the registry database. I have myself had to reinstall all of Windows XP on an occasion where I have really been very creative.

    This is why it is really important that you create a restore point (see page 13) before you start experimenting. If the computer seems peculiar in the smallest way after the alteration in registry database, then you should make a system restoration.

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