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By George I Smith

The presence of too many temporary files is a common cause that slows down your computer by clogging a reasonable part of your hard disk drive. If you examine your hard drive, you will find several files with a tilde (~) prefix or .TMP suffix, like ~xyz.dat or xyz.tmp. Such files are called temporary (or temp) files, and you can almost always safely delete them.

The first step to delete temporary file is to defragment your hard drive after regular intervals. Defragmenting will locate the scattered pieces of these temp files, reunite them, and put them on your hard drive in orderly, contiguous cluster.

Follow the following procedure to defragment your drive:

* Click Start, Programs (in case of WinXP/Vista, it's All Programs), and then Accessories.
* Under Accessories, choose System Tools.
* After that, select Disk Defragmenter.
* Click OK after choosing the drive.

Depending on the dimension of your hard drive and the number of files on it, Disk Defragmenter can take 30 minutes to 2 hours for this job.

Another alternative to delete temporary file is to periodically erase any temp file that has been saved on your hard drive. For this, you will need to find the temp files at first. The easiest technique to do that is to make use of Windows' built-in Find utility. Click Start, Find, and then select Files Or Folders. Next, type *.tmp; ~*.* in the Named: field on the tab marked Name & Location.

With the use of this syntax, the operating system will understand that you are looking for files that begin with a tilde (~) and files that end with .TMP. After a few minutes, a list of the files will be displayed. In the display, you can click the Size column heading so that the list is sorted by file size. This will help you to view especially large temp files, if any. Remember that it is not an unusual thing to find 2MB, 3MB or even larger temp files. It is always advisable to delete any temporary file as even a small temp file will occupy space on your hard disk drive and slow down the system.

You can also use Disk Cleanup to delete temporary file. It is a built-in Windows utility that can delete such files very quickly. To utilize it, open the Start menu and then click in succession All Programs (in case of Windows 98/Me, click Programs), Accessories, System Tools and Disk Cleanup. After choosing the drive that you wish to clean, click OK. After scanning your hard drive, Disk Cleanup will show how much room it can clear by erasing particular types of files. If you are unsure what the files do, choose the entry and read the description that appears in the box below the entry. To delete selected files, click OK. However, Disk Cleanup will not delete all temporary files on your computer and unfortunately you can't instruct it to go back and perform a better job. Nevertheless, you can locate and delete most of the remaining temporary files by hand.

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