Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Spring cleaning the WinDisk (win doof auf deutsch)

How do you clean up the installed disk with a Win32 install (other than buying a bigger disk)?
Here are some tips from the trawling of the net.

  1. Delete everything inside the Windows Prefetch folder (\\Windows\Prefetch) - you may save a couple of MBs and may also notice that Windows loads faster. (ref1).
  2. Clean the cache as follows:

    Cleaning the cache

    If you use Internet Explorer, cleaning out the cache is relatively easy. You can do it in a couple of different ways. If you have the browser open, follow these steps:

    1. Choose Tools --> Internet Options.

    IE displays the Internet Options dialog box.

    2. On the General tab, click the Delete Files button.

    A warning dialog box offers to delete all your offline content, as well. For most folks, this doesn't matter — they don't browse offline. If you're in the minority that does, select the check box.

    3. Click OK.

    IE deletes the cache files. Depending on how cluttered your system is, this can take a while.

    4. When IE is done deleting cache files, click OK to close the Internet Options dialog box.

    You now have a fresh, clean cache, ready once again to be cluttered with new pictures from your Internet road trips.

    You can also clean out the cache without even opening the browser — just use the Disk Cleanup tool:

    1. Choose Start --> All Programs --> Accessories --> System Tools --> Disk Cleanup.

    The Disk Cleanup tool starts running. If you have multiple hard drives on your system, you're asked to choose which hard drive to analyze.

    2. Pick a hard drive and click OK.

    Disk Cleanup looks through your hard drive, calculating how much space it can reclaim. This process may take a while. A dialog box indicates items you can clean.

    3. Make sure the Temporary Internet Files option is selected.

    Temporary Internet files translates to what's stored in the cache. You can also pick other things to clean up, if desired.

    4. Click OK.

    Disk Cleanup displays a dialog box asking if you want to proceed.

    Depending on what you asked Disk Cleanup to do, the actual cleanup can take a few minutes to complete. Cleaning out cache files this way takes no longer than cleaning from within the browser.
    Finding the cache

    Most people never worry about where their browser stores its cache files. Microsoft recognizes this and doesn't make a big deal of advertising where the cache is located. You can locate the cache by displaying the Internet Options dialog box (in the browser, click Tools --> Internet Options) and then clicking Settings. The resulting Settings dialog box indicates where the cache is located (next to Current Location in the middle of the dialog box).

    As you examine the path name, notice that it's associated with the current user. If your computer is shared by multiple users, Windows creates a cache folder for each.

    Another interesting tidbit is that Microsoft hides the cache folder. It doesn't hide it in the Settings dialog box, but it does hide it if you try to get to the folder yourself.

    To see how this works, open a My Computer window for the C: drive. Double-click the Documents and Settings folder, then your account name. If you don't see a Local Settings folder in the account folder, even though the Settings dialog box says you should, don't worry. The reason is that the Local Settings folder is configured as a hidden folder; it doesn't show up when normally viewing folders.

    To see the hidden folder, follow these steps:

    1. In the folder window, choose Tools --> Folder Options.

    Windows displays the Folder Options dialog box.

    2. In the Advanced Settings area on the View tab, select the Show Hidden Files and Folders option.

    3. While you're at it, deselect the Hide Extensions for Known File Types and also the Hide Protected Operating System Files options.

    (You might have to scroll down the list to see these options.) Deselecting these two options ensures that you see as much information as possible; with more information, you can make better decisions in the long run.

    4. Click OK.

    As the Folder Options dialog box disappears, the information in the account folder is updated. You can now see the Local Settings folder, but the folder icon should appear a little more washed out than other icons. This indicates that the folder is normally hidden. You can still double-click it and then double-click the Temporary Internet Files folder to see what's in your cache.
    Changing the cache size

    Internet Explorer makes a point of ensuring that your cache never gets too big. In some respects, the cache is similar to the Recycle Bin — when its maximum size is attained, it starts deleting the oldest files to make room for the new files.

    The problem is that the cache is often set much larger than it needs to be. The Settings dialog box has a control that indicates the amount of disk space to use for the cache. By default, Internet Explorer allocates 10 percent of your disk to its cache folder. This doesn't mean the folder automatically uses that much space, just that IE keeps storing files in the cache (without deleting any of them) until that 10 percent mark is reached.

    Think about that for a moment — most computers these days come with at least a 20-, 40-, or 60GB hard drive. If all that space is allocated to a single drive and IE uses that drive for its temporary files, you can easily set a maximum cache size to 2-, 4-, or 6GB. Wow. If the average image downloaded from a Web site is approximately 10K, IE could store anywhere from 200,000 to 600,000 images on your system without deleting anything. Talk about clutter! When hard drives were smaller, the 10 percent rule made more sense.

    You can lower the cache size by following these steps:

    1. In the browser, choose Tools --> Internet Options.

    The Internet Options dialog box appears.

    2. On the General tab, click the Settings button.

    The Settings dialog box appears.

    3. Adjust the cache size via the Amount of Disk Space to Use slider or by typing a number in the text box.

    You shouldn't hesitate to lower the cache space to 75MB. If you have a high-speed Internet connection, lower it even more — perhaps to 35MB or 40MB.

    By making this simple adjustment, you save lots of hard drive space for better uses and won't hurt the overall performance of Internet Explorer.


1. Don't Prefetch
2. How dummies cleanup cache no catches here

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