Keeping a clean Windows folder will save you space and speed up Windows too. This is how to do it:
Your Windows directory and the System directory within it contains a mass of files, even at installation. Every application you install adds its own files and over time the directories can grow to alarming sizes.
Although many of the files are absolutely vital there’s also a fair number that you can get rid of. Even after uninstalling an application, you’ll find that files can be left floating about with no purpose in life. You then lose valuable disk space and Windows also slows down by a significant degree. This is because it spends a lot of time looking through the Windows directory and so, obviously, a smaller directory is a faster directory.
Remember – never delete anything if you are unsure, you can always copy files to a floppy or another directory first if you have any doubts. Take a look below for our guide to what can go and what can stay. What can you remove safely from the Windows folder?
Knowing what’s inside the Windows folder is the first step to cleaning it up. Here’s what kind of files you should be looking for. Inside the INF folder
File extension: inf
What are they? Information files holding hardware configuration details used when Windows 98 installs drivers from the Windows 98 CD-ROM. Can you delete them? Only if you never want to install the drivers from the Windows 98 CD-ROM; read them first. Inside the Command folder
File extension: bat
What are they? Batch files, these execute a series of DOS commands when run.
Can you delete them? Read them first, any that refer to deleted applications or those you don’t need can die.
File extension: com
What are they? Executable programs.
Can you delete them? Depends what they are, some are vital and others are junk, only delete if you know exactly what the application is and know for sure you don’t want it. Inside the Help folder
File extension: hlp
What are they? The main part of the Help file.
Can you delete them? Only if you’re positive that you don’t want to read the Help file again.
File extension: cnt
What are they? Along with .hlp these form an application’s Help files.
Can you delete them? Yes, if you don’t want to use Help for that application.
File extension: gid
What are they? Guide file for the Help files.
Can you delete them? No problem, Windows 98 will just create another when you use the Help file. Inside the System folder
File extension: drv
What are they? Device drivers.
Can you delete them? No, it’s best to leave Windows 98 to handle your drivers – it knows best.
File extension: acm
What are they? Audio compression CODECs.
Can you delete them? Only if you enjoy total silence.
File extension: vxd
What are they? Virtual device driver files.
Can you delete them? No.
File extension: ocx
What are they? Application extensions.
Can you delete them? Leave them well alone, unless you’re an expert and know exactly what you’re doing.
File extension: cpl
What are they? Applications that appear in your Control Panel.
Can you delete them? Use Windows Setup from the Add/Remove Programs Control Panel to remove any that you’re sure you don’t want.
File extension: acv
What are they? Video compression CODECs.
Can you delete them? Again, only if you’re sure that you’ll never want to watch any video files again!
File extension: ttf
What are they? TrueType Fonts.
Can you delete them? Any you don’t use can go, although some applications put fonts that they use here though.
File extension: scr
What are they? Screen savers.
Can you delete them? Delete any you don’t use.
File extension: vbx
What are they? Application extension, important if you use Visual Basic programs.
Can you delete them? No – unless you’re sure that the extensions were exclusively used by a deleted app.
File extension: wav
What are they? Samples used for Windows sound effects.
Can you delete them? Any you don’t listen to can go.
File extension: 386
What are they? System files.
Can you delete them? Never. Inside the Windows folder
File extension: dat
What are they? Data files.
Can you delete them? These files contain data used by applications, so leave well alone.
File extension: dll
What are they? Dynamic Link Library, application extensions.
Can you delete them? No – most are vital, although some deleted applications leave unused ones. If you must remove them, proceed with caution, and copy them to a floppy.
File extension: bmp
What are they? Bitmap pictures used for Wallpaper.
Can you delete them? Certainly.
File extension: ini
What are they? Initiation files (configuration details).
Can you delete them? If the application that used the particular file has gone, then yes.
File extension: txt
What are they? Text files.
Can you delete them? Yes, read them to see what they’re on about first though.
File extension: ico
What are they? Icon files
Can you delete them? Yes.
File extension: starting with ~
What are they? Temporary files.
Can you delete them? Yes.
File extension: pwl
What are they? Password List, surprisingly enough, this holds your password details if you’ve set up Windows for multiple users.
Can you delete them? Only if you want to lose your password, obviously enough.
File extension: —-
What are they? Backups, usually of .ini files made during the installation of an application.
Can you delete them? Usually no problem, but copy them to a floppy first if you’re in any doubt as to what their effect may be.
File extension: exe
What are they? Executable files, mostly programs.
Can you delete them? Some are integral to Windows so beware. If you know what the application is and it doesn’t have a proper uninstall routine then go ahead.
File extension: old
What are they? Old versions of files, usually you’ll find they’re configuration files.
Can you delete them? Yes, but copy them across to a floppy first if you’re a bit nervous. Getting rid of old files and Registry info
You’d be surprised how many old files and Registry entries are left around to clutter up your hard drive. But we’ve got just the solution to clean them out.
EasyCleaner (www.toniarts.com/) is a program on a mission, and that mission is to keep your PC lean and trim by helping you rid it of useless files while keeping the Registry free from trouble.
As the central storage area for all kinds of system information, you would expect the Registry to become clogged up with all kinds of unnecessary stuff, especially since most uninstall programs don’t do a very good job with it. With this in mind, it’s well worth keeping it maintained, and you can do this with one of two programs, MS RegClean or EasyCleaner. Both polish their way through the Registry like dental floss between teeth, getting rid of those awkward morsels of program which have remained even after a thorough system clear-out. Old keys will be teased out and annihilated and the Registry will be made faster too.
EasyCleaner goes much further than this though: it can also find duplicate files and remove them, freeing up disk space. It’ll also ferret out all those junk files like backups, temporary files and so on. Note: before using either program, back up your Registry first. You can do this from Microsoft’s System Information Utility — access it from Programs, Accessories, System Tools on the Start Menu. From the Tools menu select Registry Checker and take a backup before proceeding. If you can’t find the System Information Utility, chances are it hasn’t been installed on your PC. You’ll find it on your Windows 98 CD.