Speed Up Disk Cleanup in Windows XP


Part of the previous tip used the Windows utility called Disk Cleanup. In fact, this is a very useful built-in application for removing various kinds of accumulated junk from the Windows system and it comes in all current versions of Windows. It is not as comprehensive as multi-purpose programs like the freeware CCleaner but it has the advantage of already being part of Windows and requiring no installation. Many people use it as one of their regular housekeeping tools.

However, Disk Cleanup in Windows XP with NTFS file systems has one quirk that can really slow down the cleanup process. Disk Cleanup checks to see if it should apply file compression to old files and this often causes it to hang up. Microsoft has never patched this problem but does provide an online fix at this link

If you are a more experienced PC user, you can also fix the problem yourself. The solution involves a very simple edit of the Registry. (See this article about editing the Registry.) Open Regedit and delete this key:

CurrentVersion\Explorer\VolumeCaches\Compress old files

Please note that the Registry key above is actually one line with no spaces. 

Be sure to back up first, of course.

If manual Registry editing is not your cup of tea, you can use a REG file that can be downloaded on this page. Click the link, “Speed up Disk Cleanup (Windows XP)” 

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This tips section is maintained by Vic Laurie. Vic runs a Windows blog called The PC Informant and also operates a computer education website.

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