There are several different types of caches or content directories where temporary files are stored, and that’s true of all versions of Windows including Windows 10.
In addition to clearing up a little extra space — more if you haven’t cleaned up in a while — clearing the various cache files can help speed up the operating system and improve general app performance.
Clear Your Browser’s Cache
The first and most obvious cache to clear is the one associated with your active browser.
Google Chrome: Navigate to Menu (three dots in the top right) > History > Clear browsing data and select the box next to Cached images and files. Click the Clear browsing data button to make it happen.
Firefox: Navigate to Menu (three horizontal lines in the top right) > Options > Privacy & Security (left-hand side) and scroll down to the Cookies and Site Data section. Click the box labeled Clear Data to the right. In the window that appears make sure Cached Web Content is selected and then click Clear.
Internet Explorer: Click the setting icon (gear) in the top right and select Internet Options. In the General tab under Browsing history, click the Delete button. In the popup window make sure the top four boxes are checked and then click the Delete button at the bottom.
Edge: Click on the Clear all history button in the top right corner. Make sure the box next to Cached data and files is selected in the new window. Click the Clear button to erase everything.
Clear Windows Temporary Files Cache
Another cache that can build-up or become cluttered over time is the Windows temporary files repository.
- Open the Start Menu and type “Disk Cleanup” in the search field. Then select the Disk Cleanup app that appears under Best Match. Alternatively, open file explorer and right-click on your main drive then select Properties. Under the General tab near the storage usage chart select Disk Cleanup. It will take a minute or two to open the Disk Cleanup menu because the system must assess the content on your drive.
- The list that populates under Files to Delete shows all temporary files, content, and logs that you can safely delete. Scroll down until you see Temporary Files and check the box next to it, then select OK. You may also tick the box next to any of the other options on the list if you want to do a more thorough cleaning. They are all safe to remove.
The system will clear the temporary files as soon as you click OK.
Clear the Temp Directory
- Press the Windows key + R and in the run window type %temp%. The temporary files directory for the system will open.
- Highlight everything in the folder, right-click and choose Delete. The UAC will ask for permission so grant it. When it’s done, you can close the file explorer window.
- Press the Windows + R key and type temp then enter it. Another folder should open. You may see a message that you do not have permission to access the folder. If that happens just, click continue and grant UAC access.
- Highlight everything in the folder, right-click and select Delete. Grant the proper UAC access and wait for the files to be purged.
Both temporary directories will now be completely cleared. Don’t forget to empty your recycle bin.
Clear File Explorer or Explorer History
You can also purge any of the history associated with your file explorer actions and events. To do this:
- Open File Explorer and at the top of the window select View > Options.
- In the General tab and under the Privacy section, check the boxes next to both options and click the Clear button.
Clear Prefetch Data
Windows uses a Prefetch directory to store quick access content, which essentially allows it to boot into the main operating system and start applications must faster. Now and then it’s a good idea to clear out this directory.
Nothing bad will occur, but apps and the system may take a little longer to start up the next time they are used.
This goes away as the Prefetch directory is once again populated with cache files.
To clear the Prefetch directory, do the following:
- Press the Windows + R key and type prefetch in the field. When you’re done click OK. A file explorer window should open showing you the prefetch directory. Sometimes, you may be denied access with a message saying you don’t have permission.
- Click the Continue button and grant access in the UAC prompt.
- Highlight everything in the prefetch folder, right-click and select Delete. You could also hold down Shift + Delete to permanently erase the files instead of sending them to the recycle bin.
After you sort through the various cleaning processes in the list you should have an incredibly clean computer, until you dirty, it up again with temp content, caches, and user history.
That’s okay, you can always clean it again when you need to, just follow the same steps.
If you have any questions or concerns feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to respond in a timely manner.