Getting a “Low disk space” message can be unsettling because it means you must remove some of your data.
Choosing what to keep and what to delete can be a hassle since you may never know if you’ll need something in the future or not.
However, keeping your system clean and organized is crucial in getting the best performance.
The Temp folder is among the first options you can think of when decluttering your PC.
But does it contain essential data that you shouldn’t delete?
Is It Safe To Delete Temp Files?
It’s generally safe to remove temp files.
Although temp files are essential in helping your apps run smoothly and keeping your data safe, they don’t need to be permanently on your computer.
After all, they’re “temporary” files.
The main reason is that these temporary data become redundant when you save a file.
As a result, they get deleted automatically.
Sometimes these files stay in the temp folder because the app that created them fails to delete them or keeps them for future use, helping it run more smoothly.
The app may save customized settings in these temporary files in other cases.
However, these cases aren’t that common, and you can safely delete the files because they’re redundant.
Even if the temp files are necessary, the app will automatically regenerate them when you open it.
What Are Temp Files?
Your computer has different ways to ensure you don’t lose your data even if you haven’t saved them.
One of these solutions is temporary files saved in the Temp folder on your system drive.
When you install a program or create a file, the system will form and save temporary files to help it run more smoothly.
These files contain essential information that you create as you work with the app.
In other words, they create a workspace for the app to perform its tasks more smoothly.
If the system crashes unexpectedly or you have to restart your computer, these temp files help you recover the process after the device boots up.
Generally, the programs that use large amounts of data and those with the autosave option (such as Microsoft Word) create these temporary files to help them run more smoothly and recover data after a crash or sudden restart.
The memory space for a program that uses large amounts of data may not be enough.
These files go to the temp folder to make room for more essential tasks in the RAM.
In such cases, the hard disk space complements the RAM space to avoid bogging down resources and maintaining speed.
If you use Microsoft Word or PowerPoint, you may have used this feature unknowingly.
Suppose you’re working on a Word document and often forget to hit the save button.
Suddenly, the power goes out, and your computer turns off.
When you turn the PC back on and open the Word file, you’ll receive a message showing you the unsaved portion of the file and asking you if you want to save it.
That’s a lifesaver feature made available by the Temp folder.
Location Of Temp Files
Windows keeps temporary files in different locations depending on what they belong to.
Both apps and the operating system create these files, so you can find them in the Windows and AppData folders of the system drive (which is Drive C on most computers).
To access your app temp files, you can go to This PC > Local Disc C > Users > [Your Username] > AppData > Local > Temp
To see Windows-generated temp files go to This PC > Local Disk C > Windows > Temp.
In addition to these locations, you may find other folders containing these files.
For example, Microsoft Word creates a temp file in the same location as the main one.
However, when you save the main file, this temporary file disappears.
You can identify these temp files through their extensions.
For example, you may find .foo extensions in Linux programs, which is why temp files are also known as Foo files.
The Office Word temp files have a tilde sign (~) before the file name, while the system files in windows have .temp extensions.
Note that you may see a lot of Temp folders if you dig deeper in the Local Disk C, but not all of them are safe to remove.
For example, Windows may create temporary folders while installing updates.
These files are essential to your system integrity and performance, so you cannot delete them.
You can only delete the files in the %temp% folder.
Why Delete Temp Files?
Not only can you delete files in the temp folder, but you should also do it every once in a while.
These files aren’t essential system files as your system doesn’t need them to run smoothly.
In addition, you have saved them in the permanent folder you created on other drives.
They’re still in the Temp folder because the app didn’t do a thorough job of cleaning them after you closed it.
Plus, some apps may never clean their temp files.
As you continue to use these apps, the temp files pile up and take up space on your hard disk.
Deleting temp files is a common way of freeing up disk space to store more critical data.
You can delete your temp files if your experience the following issues:
1. Slow Performance
If your hard drive is full, you’ll notice reduced performance in some operations.
For example, you may experience that copying files takes longer than usual.
The main reason is that a full hard drive can reduce the read and write speed because there’s less space for new files.
You can think of it as an almost full parking lot where you have difficulty finding a parking spot.
Similarly, you’ll have a hard time finding your car in the parking lot.
Another issue with a full hard drive affecting performance is increased fragmentation.
When there’s not enough space on the hard drive, the system breaks files into fragments to fit them into available space.
These fragments may be scattered on different parts of the drive.
Opening the file may take longer than usual because the hard drive platters have to move a lot to cover these spots and read the files.
2. Freezing And Crashes
If you’re familiar with volatile and non-volatile memory, you may think that a full hard drive can’t create crashes.
That’s because non-volatile memory (RAM) is responsible for keeping temporary data belonging to the apps you open and work on.
The hard drive is the permanent storage device that keeps your files after manually saving them.
However, that’s not the only way things work.
When you work on a data-heavy and intensive program or open too many apps simultaneously, your RAM may run out of space.
In such cases, the hard drive will come to the rescue and allocate a portion of its free space to volatile memory.
As a result, the temporary storage will act as the temporary memory to help things go smoothly.
That’s why you should always ensure your hard drive has a percentage of free space.
If not, you’ll experience crashes and freezes, especially when performing heavy tasks.
Therefore, it’s recommended to delete temp files when you experience these crashes.
3. Get Full Hard Drive Messages
When your hard drive gets critically full, Windows will usually let you know by sending you “Low disk space” messages.
These messages appear upon bootup and can refer to different things.
For example, you may receive a message that says you’re running out of space on a specific disk, such as Drive C.
Another type of message indicates overall low space on your PC, which you’ll get when you have too many temp files.
When you get a message like “You’re running out of space on this PC,” you should delete your temp files.
In other cases, especially when the full disk doesn’t contain the temp folder, cleaning the temp folder can’t help with the issue.
How To Delete Temp Files
Deleting the temp folder is generally straightforward.
However, as mentioned, there are different temp folders on different parts of the computer.
They can contain critical files that aren’t safe to delete.
You can use the following methods to ensure that only unwanted files get deleted.
The key point regarding these methods is that you should close all apps and files while deleting temp files.
If an app is in use, it’s creating temp files.
Deleting these temp files will lead to data loss or the app’s malfunction.
1. The Manual Method
There’s nothing hard about using the manual method.
However, you should know which files to delete and when to delete them.
Some of these temp files are installation files that apps need until you reboot the system.
If you delete them too early, the app may not work properly.
As a result, the manual method requires more care, although you can control which files to delete and which to keep.
Since there are different temp folders, it’s critical to know which one to open, although it’s nothing to worry about because you can use a simple shortcut:
Press the Windows key + R to open the Run box.
Enter %temp% and press Ok to open the only temp folder you can delete.
After opening the folder, you can see subfolders that you can click to see their content.
Go through the files and see which ones you can uninstall.
If you’re worried about deleting necessary files, check the creation date of the files and only delete those that are more than one week old.
In addition, make sure to reboot your computer before deleting the temp files to avoid deleting installation files that require a reboot to take effect.
Select the files, right-click them, and select Delete.
Check the Recycle bin and delete the temp files if they’re moved there.
2. Storage Sense
You can rely on Windows Settings to delete unwanted files and folders and free up space.
Windows has a built-in tool, Storage Sense, that allows you to manage storage automatically and manually.
It’s a great way to make sure you only delete unwanted files.
If you enable Storage Sense, it will automatically remove unnecessary files, including temp files, when your disk space runs low.
It only works on your system drive—which also contains the temp folder—so it’s a great way to eliminate unwanted system files.
However, to clean other drives, you must look for other ways.
To enable this feature, right-click the Start button and go to Settings.
Click System and go to Storage.
You can find Storage Sense as the first option in the new window.
Turn on the feature by moving the toggle.
You can remove temporary files under Apps & features and Documents in the same window.
Click on Temporary files to see a list of everything you can delete in the temp folder.
The wizard has already specified the files you can delete and explains the files and their contents.
You can delete the files already checked by hitting the Remove files button.
Alternatively, you can go through each category, read the descriptions, and decide if you want to keep or delete them.
3. Disk Cleanup
Windows has another useful feature that helps you keep your device clean by deleting unnecessary data.
Temporary files are among the list of files targeted by this utility.
It’s a great way to ensure that only the entirely unnecessary files get deleted and that you don’t accidentally remove necessary files.
To access the utility, go to File Explorer and right-click the intended drive (for example, Drive C).
Click Properties and go to the General tab.
Click the Disk Cleanup button to get the utility to start scanning.
You can see a list of files and folders that you can delete.
Check Temporary files and confirm by selecting Delete files.
4. Move The Temp Folder
Although deleting temp files is generally safe and recommended, some users may be unwilling to do so.
In addition, since this folder is in the system drive, it can affect your performance if you have many programs installed on it.
As a result, some users may move the folder to another drive that doesn’t contain many files to free up space for the system drive.
In addition, removing the temp files isn’t necessary unless you run out of space on that specific drive or face performance issues.
Here’s how you can move the temp folder:
Right-click the Start button and click System.
If you can’t find it in the list, click Settings and go to System.
Click Advanced System Settings under Related settings and select Environment variables.
Select Temp and click New > Browse file directory.
You can select a new place for the temp file and click Ok to save changes.
What Can You Do Instead Of Deleting Temp Files?
As mentioned, the main reason to delete temp files is to free up space.
However, most of the time, the apps and Windows do a good job of cleaning these files, and manually deleting them doesn’t help free up space.
In such cases, you can use other ways to free up space in your hard drive.
If you have low space on a specific drive, you can allocate more space to it through the partition wizard.
To do so, right-click the Start button and find Disk Management in the list.
Click on it to see the list of partitions on your hard drive.
These partitions are the drives specified by letters C, D, F, etc.
You can select any of these drives, right-click it, and select Extend.
You can also shrink other partitions to make room for the one you want to extend.
Follow the on-screen instructions to finish the process.
Suppose your hard drive is full, and you can’t solve your problem by extending the volume size.
In that case, you need to make room by deleting unwanted files, moving your important data to cloud storage or an external hard drive, or using a larger internal HDD or SSD.