How to Remove Junk Files

By Gareth Downes-Powell

As you use your computer, temporary files are generated that build up over time and use up disk space, even though they are no longer required. Removing these files manually can be a time consuming process, as they can be located in many different directories in the computer's file system. Using the "Disk Cleanup" tool built into Microsoft Windows, you can quickly remove junk files and reclaim the wasted disk space. The tool will scan for all system generated files that can be safely removed, and will then automatically remove selected files.

Step 1

Click on the Windows "Start" button and select "All Programs." Click the "Accessories" group to open it, then click on the "System Tools" group. Finally, click "Disk Cleanup" to run the tool.

Step 2

Select the drive that you want to clean. The drive which Windows is installed on, known as the "system drive," will benefit the most from a clean up as it is where most temporary files are stored. Click "OK" to continue. The disk cleanup tool will then scan the selected drive looking for system files that can be safely deleted.

Step 3

Select the types of files that you want the disk cleanup tool to remove. Click on the group name if you are unsure as to the purpose of the files in the group, and a description of the files will be displayed. The total amount of space you will gain by deleting the files is shown below the groups.

Step 4

Click "OK" to start the clean up process, and then click the "Delete Files" button in the dialog box to confirm the files can be removed. An indicator is displayed which shows the progress as the various groups of files are deleted. When all of the selected files have been deleted, the tool will automatically close.

Tips & Warnings

  • Schedule disk cleanup to run automatically by using the Windows Task Scheduler. The tool can be set to run daily, weekly or monthly.
  • If you select the files in the recycle bin to be deleted, check first that there is nothing in there you may need again. Once the files have been deleted they can no longer be restored.