How to Use Disk Cleanup in Windows XP - dummies

By Dan Gookin

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.

You run Disk Cleanup in Windows XP by adhering to these steps:

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

  2. In the Disk Cleanup dialog box, click the More Options tab.

    The Disk Cleanup dialog box’s More Options tab lists additional items worthy of cleanup. Three buttons are labeled Clean Up, which take you to various other locations in Windows:

    • Windows Components: Clicking the Clean Up button opens the Windows Components Wizard window, where you can remove (or add) various pieces of Windows. You can also display the Windows Components Wizard by opening the Add/Remove Programs icon and clicking the button Add/Remove Windows Components on the left side of that window.

    • Installed Programs: Clicking the Clean Up button opens the Add/Remove Programs window, which can also be opened from the Control Panel.

    • System Restore: Clicking the Clean Up button by this option displays a Yes/No dialog box. Click the Yes button to remove all but the most recent restore point, which is a safe move.

  3. Click the Disk Cleanup tab.

  4. Place check marks by all items you want to remove.

    You can select an item beforehand to read its description. There’s nothing in there to be concerned about; the Disk Cleanup program doesn’t present you with options that would damage your computer or its performance — at least not on the Disk Cleanup tab.

  5. Click the OK button.

    A Yes/No dialog box appears.

  6. Click the Yes button to begin the cleanup process.

    Windows removes the files you specified. When it’s finished, the window goes away. You’re done.

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.