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Windows 8 : Managing disks and storage (part 2) - Disk Defragmenter and Disk Cleanup

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10/10/2014 9:09:41 PM

Disk Defragmenter and Disk Cleanup

Files become fragmented as they are used; as a result, they are not optimally placed on the disks within a computer as they are read and written. This fragmentation can slow performance of the system over time. Disk Defragmenter can help solve these problems and improve overall performance of both your computer and the files it contains.

Disk Cleanup is a straightforward utility aimed at helping you find the files and folders that are stored on your computer but might not need to be stored. Examples of such files are leftover software installation files and Temporary Internet Files (TIFs). Letting these files accumulate on your computer can not only cause slow performance and quickly consume disk space but also lead to fragmentation of files.

Using Disk Cleanup to perform regular maintenance

Computers, like anything else that is used for an extended period, need regular maintenance and tuning to keep them performing optimally. Disk Cleanup helps you perform these tasks efficiently.

You can access Disk Cleanup in either of the following ways:

  • Search for Disk Cleanup on the Start screen, tap or click Settings, and then tap or click Free Up Disk Space By Deleting Unnecessary Files.

  • Press and hold or right-click a logical disk in File Explorer on the desktop.

Both of these options display dialog boxes on the desktop. The first starts Disk Cleanup immediately, whereas the second shows the Drive Properties dialog box for the disk you selected and provides the Disk Cleanup button to launch the utility.

When Disk Cleanup begins running, it analyzes the drive against which you selected to run it to locate items that might be candidates for removal. Figure 2 shows the Disk Cleanup analysis process.

Analyzing the selected disk

Figure 2. Analyzing the selected disk

Following initial scanning, the Disk Cleanup dialog box shown in Figure 3 appears. Depending on the results of the analysis, some options might be selected within the Files To Delete section of the window. The initial options for files to delete include:

  • Downloaded Program Files ActiveX controls and Java applets used during normal operation of some websites

  • Temporary Internet Files Websites and Internet content stored on your computer to speed up viewing

  • Recycle Bin Files you have moved to the Recycle Bin for deletion

  • Setup Log Files Any log files generated by application installation processes

  • System Error Memory Dump Files Memory dump files created by system halts and other errors

  • Temporary Files Information stored by programs during normal operation

  • Thumbnails Files that quickly display images, videos, and documents in a small preview when browsing for items

  • Per User Archived Windows Error Reports Files that are used for error reporting and solution checking for each user account accessing the computer

  • System Archived Windows Error Reports Files that are used for error reporting and online solution discovery

To delete any of these groups of files, select the check box next to the group to select it for inclusion in cleanup. The Disk Cleanup utility will not affect any items not selected.

Disk Cleanup ready to go

Figure 3. Disk Cleanup ready to go

In addition to the choices provided by Windows for files you might want to clean up regularly, you can clean up system files by tapping or clicking Clean Up System Files. When you select this option, additional groupings are displayed in the Files To Delete window:

  • System Error Mini Dump Files

  • Windows Defender

Important

DO NOT DELETE SYSTEM FILES WITHOUT A REASON

Deleting system files can cause data loss or problems with your computer if the files are not chosen with care. Be very careful about using Disk Cleanup to remove system files.

Any time you have made selections within Disk Cleanup to remove certain types of files, you can view the files within the groups you have selected by choosing the View Files button in the Disk Cleanup dialog box. This opens the highlighted folder in File Explorer to show you which files and folders will be deleted if that group of items is selected.

After you identify the types of files you want to include in a cleanup, you can perform a few other options from the Disk Cleanup utility. These options are found on the More Options tab of the dialog box; this tab appears only after you tap or click the Clean Up System Files button.

More Options for cleanup

On the More Options tab of the Disk Cleanup dialog box, you can remove the following items:

  • Programs and features that you no longer use

  • System restore points that you no longer need

Selecting the button to Clean Up Programs And Features launches the Programs and Features application by which you can remove any individual items you no longer need.

Selecting the Cleanup button in the System Restore And Shadow Copies section of the dialog box removes all the system restore points except the most recent restore point. The warning message shown in Figure 4 appears, and you must confirm that you want to delete the saved restore points.

Important

CONSIDER RECOVERY NEEDS BEFORE USING THIS OPTION

Select this option only if you are sure that no other restore points are needed for recovery.

The Disk Cleanup dialog box, presented when choosing to clean up system restore points, as a warning and option to proceed

Figure 4. The Disk Cleanup dialog box, presented when choosing to clean up system restore points, as a warning and option to proceed

To remove these files, tap or click Delete in the dialog box. If you have frequently scheduled restore point snapshots, cleaning these out regularly could free up considerable storage space. The items on the More Options tab send you to other areas or delete files as soon as the options are chosen.

After you have selected all the groups of items you want to delete on the main tab of Disk Cleanup, click OK to delete the files and close the utility. If there are many files to clean out, this can take some time. On newer computers, the process will take considerably less time than it will on a computer that has not been cleaned up in some time.

 
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