What Are TMP Files and How Can I Delete Them?

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winlogo.jpgFiles ending with the extension TMP are frequently found on computers. So what are these TMP files?

Well, as the file extension might suggest, they are temporary files. These files are typically created by applications to store some form of temporary data, in a permanent form than RAM, on your hard disk. TMP files are commonly produced either when a program can't allocate enough memory for its tasks, or as part of inter-process communication.

Modern operating systems usually employ a virtual memory system, where if a program exceeds its allotted memory space usage, it can provide the application with part of the hard disk space as a substitute for memory. Programs which use large amounts of data, like video editing software, may need to create many TMP files.

TMP files are usually deleted automatically by their parent application (the software, game, application) which created them. However there may be instances where these files aren't removed from your computer and end up taking unnecessary space. This happens particularly either because the parent application crashed during runtime, or because the program's developer forgot to add the necessary code to delete TMP files when finished using them. TMP files tend to accumulate over time and take up a lot of disk space.

All this said, I have to add an important note: not all TMP files are safe to remove. So how do I know when a TMP file can be removed or not?

Usually it is safe to assume that if a TMP file is several weeks or months old, you can delete. You can check the meta data to know when the file was created or last modified, by right clicking on the file and choosing Properties. For example when you are using a word processor and have the auto-save option enabled, the application will most probably create some form of temporary file to store the content of the document you're working on in some pre-defined location in your hard disk.

Other temp files as they are usually called, are created by the Windows and its default applications. One well known default application which creates hoards of temporary files is the Internet browser.

Whenever you access a webpage, buy from an online shopping cart, access your email, your browser is transparently saving and caching some data pertaining to the action you've taken for various reasons. One of the reasons is for optimizing your web experience and loading the web-pages you visit the most frequently faster.

Temp files which are created by default Windows applications are usually stored in a few pre-defined locations in your hard drive mainly C:windowstemp folder. For these reasons there may be temp files, unbeknown to you, scattered in various locations all over your computer. The easiest way to remove temporary files created by Windows and its applications is to use the Disk Cleanup service.

For the rest of the files with a TMP file extension, scattered around your hard drive, there exist various options. Either remove them manually or download a system utilities suite (with disk or temporary file cleaner software) which automatically takes care of sweeping your hard drive of junk files. The latter is suited for both newbies and advanced users alike. These types of system utilities are almost always in some form of suite or package offering multiple other system utility applications.

Author – Jon Buchanon

Filed under Windows Tips by  #

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