Similar to the Scan Disk tool, Disk Cleanup is Windows XP’s tool to speed up your computer by removing temporary files that might be cluttering up your disk space. Unlike Scan Disk, Disk Cleanup doesn’t require rebooting your computer, and it gives you more control over what it throws away.
Before running Disk Cleanup, close all your running windows. I’ll wait while you print this tip and close your email and web browser.
From the Start menu, choose All Programs, then Accessories, then System Tools, and (finally!) Disk Cleanup. Select the drive you want to clean, which is usually the C drive. For a few moments or minutes, Disk Cleanup will survey the mess with its hands on its hips, shaking its head. Sorry, I couldn’t help sharing my mental image. I mean to say, Disk Cleanup will assess your disk for a short time and open a window that tells you how much space you can make available by deleting different files.
I recommend unchecking “Downloaded Program Files”. This folder can contain useful add-ins that you might miss in multiple programs. “Setup Log Files” is also best left undeleted in most cases.
If you scroll down within that window, you’ll see “Temporary Files”. Sometimes ScanDisk will incorrectly show that deleting “Temporary Files” will gain you 0 Kb because it only counts files that are less than 1-2 weeks old. Leave “Catalog Files for the Content Indexer” unchecked. Then click “OK”.
Another window will appear. Under the “More Options” tab, you’ll see three options with “Clean Up” buttons. Look at the third one. If your system regularly saves System Restore Points, you can delete all but the most recent restore point to reclaim some more space. Click that “Clean Up” button, then “OK”.
When you’re done, you might want to defragment your cleaned-up disk to make the most of your new space.
~ Chris Fisher