Regular maintenance is critical to extending the lifespan and performance quality of any PC. Over time and with continued usage, unnecessary temporary files, program files and Internet cache files become stored on the hard drive, taking up space and inhibiting your computer’s performance.

Unfortunately, many PC users shy away from performing routine maintenance checks out of fear that it could be a difficult or drawn out task when in fact Disk Cleanup is a tool designed to be simple and effective for PC users of every level and can provide a serious boost to system performance.

What Does Disk Cleanup Do?

The Disk Cleanup tool automatically scans the computer’s hard drive and files to determine which ones are unnecessary and can be safely deleted. Once the files have been analyzed, Disk Cleanup allows the user to quickly review the selected file categories and choose the files that are to be deleted from the hard drive.

– Downloaded Program Files

Java applets and ActiveX controls that have been stored temporarily. This folder does not contain vital program files, so it is safe to delete them without causing harm to programs or the hard drive itself.

– Temporary Internet Files

This folder contains the cached pages from the Internet that have been stored for quick viewing. Depending on how frequently users browse the Internet, this folder could be inhibiting much of the available disk space. Deleting the files in this folder does not impact personal browser settings.

– Recycle Bin

Deletes unnecessary files associated with the recycle bin of the selected hard drive.

– Temporary Remote Desktop Files

For anyone who maintains regular usage of the Remote Desktop utility, leaving these files alone will, in fact, increase future connection speeds. Deleting the files in this folder will force the software to re-download the wallpaper and system icons the next time that the user establishes an Internet connection.

– Setup Log Files

Installing new applications creates a folder that stores the log files. Once an application has been installed and is running properly, these files can be safely removed without causing harm to the applications.

– Backup Files for Previous Operating System

PC users that have upgraded their version of Windows may see this option. Selecting it will uninstall old files that may still be residing on the computer from the previous operating system. Because these files could be taking up a large amount of space, getting rid of them is a great option for anyone who doesn’t plan on returning to the previous OS.

How to Use the Disk Cleanup Utility

1. From the computer’s desktop, click the “Start” or Windows icon in the lower left corner.
2. Highlight and select “All Programs” from the bottom of the list, then scroll down to the “Accessories” folder.
3. Select the ‘System Tools’ folder; then, proceed to the Disk Cleanup utility.

Once the Disk Cleanup utility has been opened, the user will be prompted to select the hard drive to be cleaned. From here, Disk Cleanup will begin scanning to files on the hard drive. Within a few minutes, the utility will display the above list of folders and files that can be deleted safely.

More Ways to Clean A PC’s Hard Drive to Improve System Performance

When the Disk Cleanup utility simply isn’t enough and PC owners wish to do a more thorough cleaning of their system files, there are a number of products that are designed specifically to thoroughly search files to find and fix any issues that could be inhibiting system performance.

File Cure is enhanced to instantly repair almost any type of unknown or broken file extensions that could be affecting computer performance. The software can find and repair extensions connected to videos and movies, music, multimedia, important documents, email attachments and even compressed files in a matter of minutes.

For a more extensive cleaning, RegCure Registry Cleaner works to deep scan, clean, repair and even re-organize the PC registry. This particular software can greatly improve the computer’s speed and performance by ridding the hard drive of corrupted or empty DLL files and errors in the registry.

In addition to corrupted, temporary and broken files, system performance can also be inhibited by spyware, malware and general PC viruses. Because of the threat that they can cause to important files and documents on the hard drive, it is advisable to invest in quality protection software in addition to conducting routine maintenance to the computer’s operating system.