Why Aren’t Windows Temp Files Deleted Automatically?

Ben Stegner 26-09-2017

Chances are you have some useless files sitting around on your computer Delete These Windows Files and Folders to Free Up Disk Space Want to clear disk space on your Windows computer? Take a look at these Windows files and folders you can safely delete. Read More , like junk in the Recycle Bin that you haven’t emptied in weeks. But one of the biggest wastes of space on your PC are the Temp folders in the Windows and AppData directories.


As the name suggests, Windows uses these folders to store files that are only needed for a short time: error logs, images, cached files, etc. Their presence helps your computer run smoothly during your current session, but you rarely need them after a reboot, or even after closing a program.

You can easily delete these temporary folders to free up space on your computer 6 Ways to Free Up Space on Your Windows Computer Clutter can be a big downer on productivity. Over time, files get lost, programs go unused, and suddenly, your once spacious hard drive is packed with useless things and you have to clean it up.... Read More . But using the Disk Cleanup tool only deletes temporary files that are older than seven days. Even the new Storage Sense feature in Windows 10 Automatically Free Up Disk Space with Windows 10 Storage Sense When you're running out of disk space, what do you do? Windows 10 has a feature called Storage Sense that can help you clear those space hogs. We show you how to set it up. Read More won’t automatically clear temp files all the time.

Why is this?

Apps that you’re using create temporary files for a purpose. Whether you’re downloading something, editing a picture or video, or just want to quickly access data in the app thanks to cache, it needs these temporary files. Windows doesn’t know whether every application is done with its temporary files when you run the Disk Cleanup, so it errs on the side of caution. Most people won’t need an app’s temporary files for more than a week.

For instance, let’s say you were working on a large video in Adobe Premiere and decided to delete every temporary file on your PC while you had Premiere open. This would very likely cause issues in Premiere because you removed files it needed while it was still working with them. But three days later when you’re done with that Premiere session, you can safely delete those files.


Unless you have a tiny hard drive, temporary files don’t take up enough space to become a problem. If you want to clear them automatically, you can easily set up Windows to delete these temp files when you shut down 5 Things Windows Can Clear Automatically on Shutdown Want to keep Windows clean by clearing temporary files every time you shut down your computer? We'll show you how to automate this task. Read More .

Do you clear temporary files automatically, or just when you remember to? How much space are temp files taking up on your drive? Share with us in the comments!

Image Credit: VadimVasenin/Depositphotos

Related topics: Computer Maintenance, Temporary Files, Troubleshooting, Windows 10.

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  1. Brad
    April 3, 2020 at 8:32 am

    Ok I have a relatively new machine and it gets bogged down and slow after just a few days of temp windows files. Keeping this folder clean should be an automatic function of the OS and it should not allow these files to slow down operating speed. This is clearly a design flaw in my mind and should be the number on thing on their list to improve at MS. I use Norton 360 to clean it out but I really shouldn't have to.

  2. dragonmouth
    September 28, 2017 at 1:44 pm

    I usually delete unnecessary files manually. It is faster than DIsk Cleanup, avoids any aging issues and is not restricted to only particular file types.

    When I was working in Tech Support, I came across a user who had over 800,000 temporary files on her hard drive. She was complaining that her PC was slow as molasses. When I issued a DELETE command for these files, it took a few hours for the command to complete. Once the DELETE process was done, the PC was back to its zippy self.