Do you want to hear a horror story? It’s actually a horror story with a happy ending, if that’s possible. My Dell Dimension 8200 desktop computer has an 80-gigabyte hard drive. For some time now, whenever I checked the disk, I saw that I was using about 50 of the 80 gigabytes. The other day, I noticed that I had used 65 gigabytes. This was strange, since I hadn’t added any programs or massive amounts of data. A couple of days later, it was up to 66 gigabytes. Now I was really concerned. Before long, my hard drive would be full! I had also noticed for a few months that when I did computer maintenance, it took much longer than usual. For example, it used to take only two or three hours to run a virus scan with Windows Live OneCare. It began to take six hours, then eight, then 10. I noticed that when it got to my Temporary Internet Files folder, it sat there for hours. I let it run overnight many times.
Yesterday, determined to get to the bottom of this, I decided to see what I could find on the Internet. I typed “Temporary Internet Files scanning” and found a couple of threads. I read them carefully, looking for solutions. One of the contributors mentioned that Microsoft Internet Explorer stores web pages in the Temporary Internet Files folder so that, when you return to those pages, they load more quickly. But this wasn’t it, I thought. I have always deleted files, cookies, and browsing history on a regular basis (nightly, in fact). But it got me to wondering, so I went to where I do the deleting and snooped around. I noticed that at the bottom of the window, there was a button entitled “Delete all.” Hmm. I clicked it and followed directions. The worst it could do, I thought, is delete my passwords and the information that saves me having to retype my name, address, and such.
When I clicked “Delete all,” I knew that I had struck gold. A box opened and files began to be deleted. It went on and on—for so long that I decided to go to bed. I noticed that it sat for a long time on “Deleting Phishing Filter data.” When I woke up, about six hours later, the box was closed. I checked my hard drive. Voila! It had shrunk from 66 gigabytes to 51.9 gigabytes. So that was it! My computer had been storing web pages to the point where there were tens of thousands of files (including images). The folder was so large that whenever I used a scan tool, such as OneCare’s virus scanner, it took hours just to scan one folder.
Here’s the kicker. I use Windows Live OneCare as my Internet firewall and security suite. OneCare has a phishing filter. I’ve had OneCare for almost a year. During that time, apparently, Internet Explorer has been saving every web page I visited. Now that I know this, I can do two things. First, I can clean out the Temporary Internet Files folder on a regular basis. Second, I can use my scan tools more often, knowing that it will take only two or three hours instead of six, eight, or 10. What a relief! If you use Internet Explorer 7 and OneCare, here’s what to do:
1. Open the browser.
2. Click “Tools.”
3. Click “Internet Options.”
4. Click (or stay on) the “General” tab.
5. Click “Delete.”
6. Click “Delete all.”
7. Check the box (or not; it’s up to you) and click “Yes.”
Let it do the deleting. If you haven’t cleaned out your folder in a while, it may take an hour or more. You won’t regret it. You’ll free up lots of space on your hard drive. Yes, it may take a couple of seconds longer for web pages to open, since you’ve deleted the information that Internet Explorer stored, but, if you’re like me, you’ll find it well worth it.
By the way, this problem has nothing to do, so far as I know, with the faint characters on my screen. The characters are still faint, long after I cleaned out my Temporary Internet Files folder and rebooted the computer.
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