Clean out Windows XP and Vista

Both Windows Vista and XP have this problem.  People tell me that they uninstalled a bunch of programs and cleaned out Windows, but it is still clogged and slow.

What is going on?

The answer is simple.  When you do updates to Windows XP or Vista, it downloads the required files to your computer before updating.  The problem with this is that the downloaded files do not get deleted afterwards.  You will have to manually delete them.  Windows has no way of deleting these files automatically.  These files can add up to one or more GB of space saved for them.

Therefore, the following are common hard drive hogs:

  • Backup system files are stored in the Windows directory in case any problems arise.  These files can come in handy when a problem occurs when installing a program, but do we need all 100 or more of the backup files dating back to when the computer was first bought?
  • Page file aka Virtual memory.  This is additional memory that is allocated on your harddrive.  If you do not have enough RAM, this page file will be used as additional RAM.  It is slower but works.  The problem starts when you have too little hard drive space left.  The page file is not static.  It shrinks and enlarges based on the computer’s needs.  For example, if you are buring a DVD to an ISO file on the harddrive, the page file can increase to 4 or more GB in size.  This can cause a problem if the harddrive does not have much space left.
  • System restore is another thing that Windows has that not many people know about.  It creates a back up of system files so that you can restore Windows to a previous state in case of problems.  You do have the option of turning this off.  This can be a serious memory hog ranging from one or more GB of space.

Now for the solution.

I have a tutorial to solve some of these problems.  As for the other problems, I will give you a site that you can work from.

In this tutorial, I will teach you how to delete the hidden backup files in the Windows directory.  You will also learn where the files are downloaded before Windows makes updates to your computer and these files are safe to delete.  Finally, you will be able to delete all the system restore points except the most recent one.  If you haven’t done this before, you may be able to free up to 30 or more GB of space.

The page file is a little different.  I created a partition on my harddrive called Page (D:).  It is 40GB in size and is dedicated for this purpose only.  Seeing my C: grow and shrink every so often makes it difficult to determine how much space is actually left.  Furthermore, defragmenting C: should be better since C: should contain mostly files that do not grow and/or shrink after moving the page file to D:.

If you want to partition your harddrive into sections, and Windows XP does not have a safe method, you can take a look at GParted.  It is a partition manager.  You can look at my tutorial at

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