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Windows 8.1: The Missing Manual by David Pogue

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Disk Cleanup

As you use your computer, Windows litters your hard drive with temporary files. Programs, utilities, and Web sites scatter disposable files everywhere. If you could see your hard drive’s surface, it would eventually look like the floor of a minivan whose owners eat a lot of fast food.

To run Windows’ built-in housekeeper program, the quickest route is this: Open the Start screen. Type disk cleanup and select Settings under the search box. In the search results, click “Free up disk space by deleting unnecessary files.” (Disk Cleanup is also available in the Control Panel.)

The Disk Cleanup program dives right in. If you have more than one drive, it lets you choose the one you want to work on; then it goes to work, inspecting your drive and reporting on files you can safely remove.

Left to its own devices, it will clean up only your files. But if you’d like to clean up all the files on the computer, including Microsoft’s own detritus, click “Clean up system files.” Authenticate if necessary.

Disk Cleanup announces how much free space you stand to gain. After you’ve been using your PC for a while, it’s amazing how much crud you’ll find there—and how much space you can recover.

Figure 21-1. Disk Cleanup announces how much free space you stand to gain. After you’ve been using your PC for a while, it’s amazing how much crud you’ll find there—and how much space you can recover.

The Disk Cleanup dialog box shown in Figure 21-1 appears when the inspection is over. Turn on the checkboxes of the file categories you’d like to have cleaned out, and then click OK to send ...

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