How to Run Disk Cleanup in Windows XP

The Windows XP Disk Cleanup utility helps maintain your computer's performance by removing old, unneeded files and temporary internet files.

To start Disk Cleanup:

  • Click Start, choose Programs, then Accessories, System Tools, and click on Disk Cleanup

Use the drop down menu arrow to select the drive you want to clean.

Click OK and Disk Cleanup will analyze the selected drive to determine the amount of space that can be freed. Please note that this process can take several minutes, depending on the size of your harddrive.

Once the drive analysis is complete a list of file categories will be presented.


Click to place a checkmark in the file categories you would like to delete, then click OK to begin the disk cleanup process.

File Categories in Disk Cleanup Utility

There are several different categories available to clean:

  • Downloaded Program Files

These are ActiveX controls and Java applets downloaded from Web sites that are temporarily stored in the Downloaded Program Files folder.

  • Temporary Internet Files

Temporary internet files are files stored on your computer when visiting websites. These files can take up a significant amount of space, and can be safely deleted.

  • Recycle Bin

Empties the Recycle Bin of any deleted files.

  • Temporary Remote Desktop Files

These files are the result of using the Remote Desktop utility. If you repeatedly use Remote Desktop with the same computer or group of computers, leaving these files intact will maintain the speed of future connections. Deleting them will necessitate downloading the remote systems icons and wallpaper the next time a connection is established.

  • Setup Log Files

These are log files created by setup programs, and can be safely deleted.

  • Backup Files For Previous Operating System

This category involves files backed up from an previous Windows operating system upgrade installation. You may not have this category if your computer has never had its operating system upgraded.

  • Offline Files

These files are website files stored for offline use, and can be safely deleted.

  • Compress Old Files

The Compress Old Files category doesn't delete any files from the drive, but instead compresses files that Windows hasn't accessed for a specified period of time. This option will help create more free space on the drive, but may slow down the process of opening these files.

The window will automatically close after Disk Cleanup is complete.