Temporary File Issues and how to reduce loss of performance

In normal day to day use, Windows and application software generates temporary files as a normal part of the systems operation. These are three main sources of these files:

Windows - Windows creates a number of temporary files as the system is running, when updates are installed and as a normal part of the systems operation. While not usually huge in number, they accumulate ofer time.

Applications - The software applications installed on the PC will generally also create temporary files as part of their normal operation. Some applications may generate many, many files - while others may generate almost none. Either way, these again accumulate over time and often do not get deleted.

Internet Explorer - Although an application, Internet Explorer (And other browsers such as Chrome and Firefox) require a mention as they generate a LOT of temporary files when browsing web sites. In general, every web page has one or more graphics, logos or images and each of these are usually downloaded and saved as a temporary file before displaying the web page. This generates many thousands of temporary files, the number and size of which is only restricted by a default setting within the web browser.

Why are these temporary files an issue?

By using the default installation settings, Windows creates a single "Partition" for the "C:" drive using the whole of the disk drive. These many files are then created and (Sometimes) deleted over time causing a great number of additional files to be created on the "C:" drive - and a significant amount of disk fragmentation to occur.

Disk fragmentation is where a single file is not stored in a single piece on the disk - but scattered (fragmented) across the disk and stored in many smaller pieces - commonly hundreds and sometimes thousands of pieces for large files. This makes accessing the file much slower.

Even when automatic disk defragmentation is scheduled and used (again not a default setting) the number of additional files present still has a detrimental effect on system performance.

How to address the problem?

In general, all systems should have disks partitioned to provide a separate partition for temporary files. This largely eliminates much of the fragmentation of the "C:" drive, making it perform better over time and require less defragmentation. By relocating the temporary files folders to a different drive and limiting the amount of disk space used by Internet Explorer or other browsers, the fragmentation and huge numbers of files created are confined to a separate drive and can be deleted or defragmented more quickly and easily when required.

Also, the separate drive is a very useful place to have a folder for saving downloads and other software installed on the system such as drivers and installation files for applications so that they may be re-installed when required without having to try and find the same version of the software.

Another advantage is that backups of the "C:" drive will not copy thousands of small temporary files, saving time and space on backup media.

When to Partition the Disk?

The easiest time to create the required disk partitions is when first installing Windows - and this is shown in our installation guide.

However, if you are looking at a pre-installed system, then with Windows Vista and later operating systems it is possible to re-size hard disk partitions within certain restrictions, to allow a new partition for temporary files to be created.