If you have a particular software program that keeps crashing, odds are pretty good that you have lots of “temp files” on your system that are only making the problem worse. Microsoft Word is notorious for dumping endless temp files all over your system when it crashes. If you don’t clean the temp files out periodically, your system can become unstable (not to mention really annoying to use).
So you may be wondering, “if they are such a pain, what exactly are temp files?” When you run a software program, it puts small pieces of working data into small files called temp files. If everything goes well, these temp files are erased when the program doesn’t need them anymore, such as when the program is closed. The temp files do their job storing information and you never know about them because they are erased.
However, if a program locks up or otherwise crashes, the temp files are left on your hard disk, hogging up space and causing problems. They aren’t deleted unless you do something about it. Temp files are stored in a particular folder, which is usually C:\windows\temp.
The easiest and safest way to remove temp files is to run the Windows Disk Cleanup utility. Windows 98, Me, 2000, and XP come with a Disk Cleanup wizard that makes it easy to ditch temp files. To run the wizard, choose Start|Programs|Accessories|System Tools|Disk Cleanup. Then just follow the steps.
In earlier versions of Windows, you can clean out the Temp folder the old fashioned way. In Windows Explorer, go to the temp folder and look at the list of files. Any files with a date earlier than the current date and that start with a tilde (~) or end with .TMP can safely be deleted.