How to Use Disk Cleanup in Windows 7 and Vista

A handy way to remove lots of files you don’t need on a hard drive is to employ the aptly named Disk Cleanup tool. What Disk Cleanup does is locate files that can easily be removed to free up some disk space, especially files that may not be obvious to you, such as temporary files used by Windows or when browsing the Internet.

To run Disk Cleanup in Windows 7 and Windows Vista, follow these steps:

  1. From the Start button menu, choose All Programs→Accessories→System Tools→Disk Cleanup.

  2. In Windows Vista, choose the option My Files Only.

    Start with your own files first. If that doesn’t remove enough files, repeat these steps and choose the option Files from All Users on This Computer.

  3. If prompted, choose the mass storage device that you want to clean up.

    The prompt appears only when you have multiple storage media on your PC. You probably want to choose drive C, the main storage device.

  4. In the Disk Cleanup dialog box, place check marks by all the items you want to remove.

    It’s okay to place check marks by all items. Those things wouldn’t be listed if they were crucial to the computer’s operation.

    There’s one exception to placing check marks by all the items, however: Hibernation File Cleaner. Do not remove that item if you use hibernation on your computer.

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  5. Click OK.

    You’re not quite there yet.

  6. Click the Delete Files button to begin the cleanup process.

    Wait while the disk is being cleaned. When the process is complete, the window goes away.

In Windows 7, you can click the Clean Up System Files button to remove unneeded bits and pieces of various Windows updates that may be littering the hard drive. Click the button before Step 4, and then after the system files are cleaned up, you can proceed with removing other disk detritus.

You can also access the Disk Cleanup utility from a disk drive’s Properties dialog box by clicking the Disk Cleanup button on the General tab.

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