While Windows is running , you may receive a "low disk space" message in the notification area. This may prevent the ability to download and install Windows updates. This article describes how to reclaim disk space on a Windows XP or Windows Server 2003-based computer. Note
You can reference the following site for additional information. While it is focused on Vista, the information is appropriate for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003.
You may have to reclaim disk space on your computer so that you
can install additional Windows updates, service packs, and programs. Or, you may have to do this in order to save
additional personal files.
Run the Disk Cleanup tool
The Disk Cleanup tool searches your hard disk for files that you can safely delete. You can choose to delete some of or all these files.
information about the Disk Cleanup tool, click the following article number to
view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
Description of the Disk Cleanup Tool in Windows XP
To start the Disk Cleanup tool, use one of the following methods:
- Click Start, click Run, type cleanmgr in the Open box, and then press ENTER.
- Click Start, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click Disk Cleanup.
- In Windows Explorer or in My Computer, right-click the drive on which you want to reclaim disk space, and then click Properties. In the Properties dialog box, click the General tab, and then click Disk Cleanup.
To reclaim space on your hard disk, click the Disk Cleanup
tab, select one or more files to be deleted, and then click OK
By default, some files are automatically selected. You can accept the default setting by clicking OK
The listed files can include items from the following:
- Temporary Setup Files
These are files that were created by a Setup program that is no longer running.
- Downloaded Program Files
Downloaded program files are ActiveX controls and Java programs that are downloaded automatically from the Internet when you view certain Web pages. These files are temporarily stored in the Downloaded Program Files folder on the hard disk. When you click the Temporary Setup Files item, you see a View Files button that lets you review the files before Disk Cleanup deletes them. This button opens the C:\Winnt\Downloaded Program Files folder.
Note Downloaded program files are selected by default.
- Temporary Internet Files
This folder contains Web pages that are stored on your hard disk for quick viewing. Disk Cleanup deletes these pages but leaves your personalized settings for Web pages intact. When you click the Temporary Internet Files item, you see a View Files button. This button opens the C:\Documents and Settings\ Username \Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5 folder.
- Offline Webpages
Offline pages are webpages that are stored on your computer so you can view them without being connected to the Internet. If you delete these pages now, you can still view your favorites offline later by synchronizing them. Your personalized settings for webpages will be left intact.
- Old Chkdsk Files
When the Chkdsk tool checks a disk for errors, it might save lost file fragments as files in the root folder on the disk. These files are unnecessary.
- Recycle Bin
The Recycle Bin contains files that you have deleted from the system. These files are not permanently removed until you empty the Recycle Bin. When you click the Recycle Bin item, you see a View Files button that opens the Recycle Bin.
- Setup Log Files
- Files created by Windows.
- Temporary Files
Programs sometimes store temporary information in a Temp folder. Before a program exits, it typically deletes this information. You can safely delete temporary files that have not been modified within the last week.
- WebClient/Publisher Temporary Files
The WebClient/Publisher service maintains a cache of accessed files on this disk. These files are kept locally for performance reasons only, and can be deleted safely.
- Temporary Offline Files
Temporary offline files are local copies of recently used network files. These files are automatically cached so that you can use them after you disconnect from the network. When you click the Temporary Offline Files item, you see a View Files button that opens the Offline Files folder.
- Offline Files
Offline files are local copies of network files that you specifically want to have available offline so that you can use them after you disconnect from the network. When you click the Offline Files item, you see a View Files button that opens the Offline Files folder.
- Compress Old Files
Windows can compress files that you have not used recently. When you compress old files, you save disk space. However, you can still use these files, and no files are deleted. Because files are compressed at different rates, the displayed amount of disk space that you will gain is approximate. You can use the Options button to specify the number of days to wait before Disk Cleanup compresses an unused file.
- Catalog Files for the Content Indexer
The Indexing service speeds up and improves file searches by maintaining an index of the files that are on the disk. These Catalog files remain from earlier indexing operations, and they can be safely deleted.
The More Options
tab in the Disk Cleanup
dialog box contains options for cleaning up Windows components or installed programs. By using these options, you can reclaim additional space on the computer:
- The Windows Components option creates free space by removing optional Windows components that you do not use. By clicking Clean Up, you start the Windows Components Wizard.
- The Installed Programs option reclaims more disk space by removing programs that you do not use. By clicking Clean Up, you start the Change or Remove Programs option in the Add or Remove Programs tool.
- The System Restore option creates free space by removing all restore points except for the most recent one.
For more information about how to schedule and automate Disk Cleanup, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
How to automate the Disk Cleanup tool in Windows XP
The environment variables that are used in the following path names can be determined by using the following steps:
- Click Start, and then click
- In the Open box, type
cmd, and then press ENTER.
- Type set, and then press ENTER.
Delete memory dump files, and modify the Startup and Recovery options
Memory dump files are created when system failures occur, and they can be used to determine the cause of a failure. These files can be safely deleted if they are no longer required.
To delete memory dump files, follow these steps:
- Delete the files in the %AllUsersProfile%\Application
Data\Microsoft\Dr Watson folder. These log and memory dump files are created when applications stop working.
- Delete the files in the %Windir%\minidump folder. These minidump files are created when Windows stops responding or crashes.
- Delete the %SystemRoot%\MEMORY.dmp file. This is the complete memory dump file that is created when Windows stops responding or crashes.
You may also want to prevent your system from creating a complete memory dump file in the future. Complete memory dump files record the contents of system memory when the computer stops responding or crashes. These complete memory dump files can be very large. To save space, you can modify your Startup and Recovery options to create only a small memory dump file.
To configure the system to create a small memory dump file instead of a complete dump file when failures occur, follow these steps:
- Right-click My Computer, and then click Properties.
- Click the Advanced tab, and then click Settings under Startup and Recovery.
- Under Write Debugging Information, select the kind of information that you want Windows to record in a memory dump file if the computer stops responding. To record the smallest volume of information for use in troubleshooting the problem, select the Small Memory Dump option. This option requires a paging file of at least 2 megabytes (MB) on the boot volume of the computer, and it specifies that Windows will create a new file every time that the system stops responding or crashes.
- Click OK.
Delete the remote desktop connection cache files
If you delete the cache files, the screen may not update very
quickly while you are running Remote Desktop Connection.
the Remote Desktop Connection cache files, delete all the bitmap cache files
(files that use the .bmc extension) in the %Userprofile%\Local
Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Terminal Server Client\cache
Disable other Windows featuresWarning
Although disabling certain Windows features can save
disk space, this may affect the performance and functionality of the computer.
Consider the effect that this option will have on the computer before you disable
You have the following options:
- Disable hibernation, and delete the hibernation file.
- Disable the hibernation file. For more
information about how to disable the hibernation file, click the following
article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
How to disable and re-enable hibernation on a computer that is running Windows Vista
- Delete the %SystemDrive%\hiberfil.sys file.
- Move the paging file to another volume, disable it, or
- Disable or move the paging file. To do this, see the
"Change the size of the virtual memory paging file" article in Microsoft TechNet. To do this, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
- Delete the %SystemDrive%\Pagefile.sys file.
Delete Windows update filesWarning
If you delete the folder for each update, the corresponding
Windows update cannot be uninstalled. Consider the effect that this will have
on the computer before you delete the Windows update files.
Windows update files, follow these steps:
- Delete only those %Windir%/$NtUninstallKB
number$ folders that were created more than a month ago as backup
files for Windows updates. Do not delete those that were created within the last 30 days.
- To delete the download cache for Windows updates, delete
all the folders in the %Windir%\SoftwareDistribution\download folder that were
created more than 10 days ago.
- Delete the following log files in the %Windir% folder:
Delete Windows XP service pack filesWarning
If you delete the backup folders for each Windows XP service pack,
you will be unable to uninstall Windows XP service packs.
delete the folder for the installation files and the
cache for the Windows XP service pack, you will be
unable to restore corrupted Windows XP service pack files or to install additional
Windows XP features that are not installed by default. You may want to keep a
copy of these files in another location.
For more information
about how to keep a copy of these files, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
Files and folders are added to your system after service pack is installed
Consider the effect that this will have on
your computer before you delete these files.
To delete Windows XP
service pack files, follow these steps:
- Delete the %Windir%\$NtServicePackUninstall$ folder to
delete the backup folders for the Windows XP service packs.
- Delete the %Windir%\ServicePackFiles folder to delete
installation files and cache folders for the Windows XP service
How to determine the available disk space after you reclaim space on the system drive
- Click Start, and then click My Computer.
- Right-click the drive C, and then click Properties.
- On the Properties tab, note the free space on the system drive.
Article ID: 956324 - Last Review: September 6, 2012 - Revision: 1.0
- Microsoft Windows XP Professional
- Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
- Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition (32-bit x86)
- Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise x64 Edition
- Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition (32-bit x86)
- Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Standard x64 Edition
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