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INTRODUCTION

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.
http://windowshelp.microsoft.com/Windows/en-US/Help/1a8040b6-90ef-4400-a89f-52bd4d1292441033.mspx

More information

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.

For more information about the Disk Cleanup tool, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
310312 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.

Note 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:
315246 How to automate the Disk Cleanup tool in Windows XP
Note The environment variables that are used in the following path names can be determined by using the following steps:
  1. Click Start, and then click Run.
  2. In the Open box, type cmd, and then press ENTER.
  3. 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:
  1. Delete the files in the %AllUsersProfile%\Application Data\Microsoft\Dr Watson folder. These log and memory dump files are created when applications stop working.
  2. Delete the files in the %Windir%\minidump folder. These minidump files are created when Windows stops responding or crashes.
  3. 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:
  1. Right-click My Computer, and then click Properties.
  2. Click the Advanced tab, and then click Settings under Startup and Recovery.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

To delete 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 folder.

Disable other Windows features

Warning 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 Windows features.

You have the following options:
  • Disable hibernation, and delete the hibernation file.
    1. 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:
      920730 How to disable and re-enable hibernation on a computer that is running Windows Vista
    2. Delete the %SystemDrive%\hiberfil.sys file.
  • Move the paging file to another volume, disable it, or delete it.
    • 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:
      http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc772755.aspx
    • Delete the %SystemDrive%\Pagefile.sys file.

Delete Windows update files

Warning 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.

To delete Windows update files, follow these steps:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Delete the following log files in the %Windir% folder:
    • kb*.log
    • setup*.log
    • setup*.old
    • setuplog.txt
    • winnt32.log
    • set*.tmp

Delete Windows XP service pack files

Warning If you delete the backup folders for each Windows XP service pack, you will be unable to uninstall Windows XP service packs.

If you 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:
271484 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:
  1. Delete the %Windir%\$NtServicePackUninstall$ folder to delete the backup folders for the Windows XP service packs.
  2. Delete the %Windir%\ServicePackFiles folder to delete installation files and cache folders for the Windows XP service packs.

How to determine the available disk space after you reclaim space on the system drive

  1. Click Start, and then click My Computer.
  2. Right-click the drive C, and then click Properties.
  3. On the Properties tab, note the free space on the system drive.

Properties

Article ID: 956324 - Last Review: September 6, 2012 - Revision: 1.0
Applies to
  • 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
Keywords: 
kbexpertiseinter kbhowto kbinfo KB956324

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