Clear up storage space on your Windows 11 PC by deleting these unnecessary temporary files.
Your Windows 11 PC has thousands of files stocked up across folders. You may not access a large percentage of these ever, but they are critical to the system’s functioning. However, some of these files are not linked to any critical processes, and it’s recommended that you clear them periodically for the system’s efficient functioning.
Your system may have temporary files ranging from application data, error logs and data, browsing data, window updates, and installation files, amongst others. Unfortunately, these files lay around occupying space on your computer, and the chances of you ever using these are bleak.
However, we do recommend identifying the ones that you might need and then making an informed decision. If you are running low on storage and it has started to affect the system performance, deleting the files does make sense. To identify, you need to know the various types of temporary files.
List of all Temporary File Types in Windows 11
We have listed the common file types that show up when you search the system for temporary files to delete. If your computer doesn’t show a certain type, it most likely doesn’t exist. This will help you get acquainted with the various files and determine which ones to delete.
Windows Update Cleanup: These are the files pertaining to the previous Windows updates. These are stored on the system in case you want to revert to the previous version. If the current version works just fine, you can go ahead and delete these files.
Windows Upgrade Log Files: These log files are created when you upgrade Windows. These are used to identify and troubleshoot issues during servicing or installation. Again, if the current Windows version works fine, there’s no harm in deleting these files.
Windows ESD Installation Files: These files are used to reset the Windows. They may take up a lot of storage space, but it’s recommended that you don’t delete these. In the absence of these files, you will need an installation media to reset the Windows.
Temporary Files: The are the files created by apps while executing a task. The apps themselves generally clear these files. However, if the apps don’t clear them up automatically, you can manually delete them.
Temporary Internet Files: These are the cache files for the websites you visit on Edge. These files help the browser loads websites faster the next time you visit them. You can delete these files, but the browser will create them all over again the next time you visit the website. Also, deleted these files will affect your browsing speed.
Thumbnails: These files help Windows quickly load the thumbnails for the various pictures, videos, and documents stored on your computer. It’s safe to delete these files since Windows will automatically create new ones when needed.
Microsoft Defender Antivirus: These are non-critical files used by the Microsoft Defender. You can delete these files since it wouldn’t affect the functioning of Microsoft Defender in any way.
Device Driver Packages: These are copies of the drivers that were installed on your system previously. Deleting them wouldn’t affect the currently installed drivers. Hence, if the current drivers work fine, deleting these files is completely safe.
Now that you have a fair idea of the various entries you will come across when deleting temporary files, let’s see how you delete them.
Delete Temporary Files through Settings
To delete temporary files through Settings, right-click on the ‘Start’ icon in the Taskbar or press WINDOWS + X to access the Quick Access menu, and then select ‘Settings’ from the list of options. Alternatively, you can press WINDOWS + I to directly launch the Settings app.
In the ‘System’ tab of Settings, click on ‘Storage’ on the right.
Next, wait for Windows to calculate the storage under each category and then click on ‘Temporary files’.
You will now find the list of temporary files categorized under various types that we discussed earlier. Tick the checkboxes for the files you want to delete and uncheck the ones you want to keep. The total space that will be cleared post deletion is mentioned above the list of temporary files. After you have made the necessary selection, click on ‘Remove files’ to delete them.
Choose the relevant response in case a confirmation box pops up.
The selected temporary files will be deleted, thus clearing storage on your computer and enhancing its performance.
Delete Temporary Files Using Disk Cleanup
Disk Cleanup is a built-in utility in Windows that clears up storage by deleting the temporary files. It first scans the selected drive for temporary files and then displays a list of files that can be deleted. Now, you can delete the files that you deem unusable and filling storage unnecessarily.
To delete Temporary Files using Disk Cleanup, search for the app in the ‘Start Menu’, and click on the relevant search result to launch the app.
You will now be asked to select the drive that you want to clean up. Click on the drop-down menu, choose the required option and then click on ‘OK’ to proceed.
Disk cleanup will now run a scan to identify the files that can be cleared and will list them. Now, select the checkboxes next to the files that you want to delete and click on ‘OK’ at the bottom.
You might realize that the space cleared on deleting these files is quite small. This is because ‘System Files’ have not been included yet.
To delete the ‘System Files’ using Disk Cleanup, click on the ‘Clean up system files’ option.
Again, you will be asked to select a drive to clean up. After selecting the required drive from the drop-down menu, click on ‘OK’ at the bottom.
Disk Cleanup will now scan for ‘System Files’ and add it to the ‘Files to delete’ section. Now tick the checkboxes for the files that you want to delete and untick the ones that you want to keep, and click on ‘OK’ at the bottom.
Finally, click on ‘Delete Files’ in the confirmation box that pops up to proceed.
The selected files will now be deleted.
Delete Temporary Files in Temp Folder
The above methods do not clear all the temporary files on your system, and you will have to delete them manually. This includes the files in the ‘Temp’ folder. These are files created by apps while executing a task and are not critical to its functioning.
However, do remember that the folder will again fill up in a while since the apps continue to create temporary files. Thus, it will only clean up space temporarily.
There are two ways you can clear the files in the ‘Temp’ folder, either through the File Explorer or the Command Prompt. Let’s see how you do both.
Via File Explorer
To delete Temporary files in the Temp folder, press WINDOWS + R to launch the ‘Run’ command, enter ‘%temp%’ in the search box, and then either click on ‘OK’ at the bottom or press ENTER.
Press CTRL + A to select all the files, right-click on them, and then select the ‘Delete’ icon from the context menu.
Related: How to Delete Files on Windows 11
Note: You can also select individual files to delete by holding the CTRL key and selecting the files. Once you selected the required files, right-click on either one of them and select the ‘Delete’ icon.
A confirmation box might pop up for some files. Choose the relevant option to delete those files.
Via Command Prompt
To delete Temporary files via Command Prompt, search for ‘Windows Terminal’ in the Start Menu, right-click on the relevant search result and select ‘Run as administrator’ to launch the app. Then, click ‘Yes’ on the confirmation box that appears.
The Windows PowerShell tab will launch by default if you haven’t changed the default profile. To open ‘Command Prompt’, click on the carrot arrow icon at the top and select ‘Command Prompt’ from the menu.
Now, type or paste the following command and press ENTER to execute it.
del /q/f/s %TEMP%\*
All the temporary files that do not require any additional permissions will be deleted.
Configure Storage Sense to Automatically Delete Temporary Files
Storage Sense is a feature on Windows that automatically cleans the temporary files on the computer. You can configure the ‘Storage Sense’ settings as per your requirements.
To enable Storage Sense, navigate to the ‘Storage’ settings as discussed earlier. Now, click on the toggle next to ‘Storage Sense’ to enable the setting.
Now, click on the ‘Storage Sense’ option to configure the various options.
Next, click on the drop-down menus for each of the options under ‘Configure cleanup schedules’ and select the desired option.
Once you have configured Storage Sense, it will automatically clean temporary files on your system as per the set schedule.
Also, you can clean the temporary files using ‘Storage Sense’ right away by clicking on the ‘Run storage sense now’ option at the bottom.
Storage sense will now delete the temporary files on the system. It may take a few minutes for the process to complete, but you can work simultaneously and let the process run in the background.
These are all the ways you can delete the temporary files on the system. However, to clean up space real quick, identify the files that you may have added in the past but don’t require anymore, and delete them.