The Hidden Storage Hog: Managing and Deleting Temporary Files

Temporary Files

Too many temporary files stored on the computer can consume huge storage space. All operating systems create temporary files that tend to grow in volume over time, impacting the disk space available to the system for executing core processes. 

There are many more things that you need to know about these files. What temporary files are, and where to locate them? How to delete temporary files permanently from the computer? 

In this article, we have put together everything you need to know about temporary files. So, read the article to understand where you can find these files and how you can delete them.

What Are Temporary Files?

All the operating systems and apps build temporary files to store temporary data. These files are also known as foo files and are stored with .tmp or .temp extension. The temporary files are created to hold information while a new file is being generated. 

Temporary files manage Settings, store data, move data, manage multiple users, and help restore lost data immediately. On installing a new app or updating the existing one, the operating system generates temporary files for storing and retrieving data temporarily. 

There are different types of temporary files stored on your computer. Several files aim at accelerating your experience when you are working on an app, while others store information required to speed up internet browsing – cache, for example. 

While temporary files store program-specific data, the cache stores information specific to your search on the computer. 

For example, if you have recently searched where to find applications on Mac, your system will store information about all the websites you visited to find answers to your query. 

Next time you visit any of these websites, the browser will load them faster. The files that store such data are called temporary internet files, also known as a cache. 

Moreover, while working in Microsoft Word, you must have seen a temporary file that works in association with the one you are using. These files begin with tilde (~) and dollar ($) signs and are stored in the same directory where you save the current document. 

Why Do We Have Temporary Files?

Temporary files are created by the operating system to serve a temporary purpose, and there are multiple reasons why the OS builds them. Some of the significant reasons for having temporary files include:

  • When you need to store large volumes of data into smaller chunks, that makes the information manageable. 
  • When you need to have a temporary backup of the file, you are working on. 
  • When an app requires communicating with another process or program.

Where are Temporary Files Stored?

The location where temporary files are stored on the computer varies on the operating system and the program you are using. 

With Windows, some form of temporary directory usually exists. The latest Windows versions use the AppData folder to store temporary files, while the previous versions store these files within the C:\Windows\Temp directory. 

To open a temporary directory, click on the Start menu and type in %temp% to view all the temporary files your system stores. 

On your Mac computer, the temporary files are stored within the Cache folder. To access this folder, go to Finder, tap Go, select Go to the folder, and then type in ~/Library/Caches/

Several programs on Mac do not use the temporary directory of the macOS; they store their temporary files in the Programs folder instead. 

These files are updated regularly and get automatically deleted once the operating system or the program creates a permanent file. 

Why Should You Delete Temporary Files Regularly?

The temporary files your operating system creates keep soaring; deleting them permanently is viable. While most files get deleted automatically as soon as the system creates permanent files, you need to delete several files manually. 

There are two main reasons why you need to delete them from your computer. 

  • To Save Storage Space: Over time, the temporary files grow in size and start to consume considerable storage space on the hard drive. Deleting them permanently from the device makes space for other important files. 
  • To Improve System Performance: A lot of temporary files will slow down your system, and it will begin to function slower than usual, particularly when working with heavy-load, resource-consuming apps and programs. 

The Conclusion 

Temporary files are meant to streamline your workflow when the permanent files are in the process of being created. These files don’t harm your system in any way. 

However, having a lot of temporary files can slow down your computer, and you might have to compromise productivity. 

Deleting these files will not have any negative impact on your system as the operating system keeps creating new files; erasing them will free up storage instead. 

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