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Do a clean sweep of your computing history

Updated Nov 7th. 2001
Added smartdrv.exe to speed things up. I ran this recently and it took forever to delete the 60+ MB worth of files in the temp folder (?!?), so I've added that in.
Changed all instances of %windir% to c:\windows. It seems the %windir% wasn't being recognized in some situations, which meant that nothing at all was being erased.
Keep checking back for any other updates.

This is a little batch file that I made for myself which will clean out some of the most obvious places to look for your computing history. A batch file is a plain text file with a .bat extension that contain a series of commands that will be run one after another when the file is executed.
The location of these folders should be verified before you run this. c:\windows\ is the most common location for the temp, history, recent, and temporary internet files folders. Windows NT and Windows 2000 may have c:\winnt instead of c:\windows. Also, the actual location of win386.swp may vary. Do a file search to verify it's location on your computer. Please note that you will lose all your cookies, so make sure you have a copy of any passwords those cookies may be storing before you do this.

You should also check out this page about the Windows registry.

Copy this into Notepad and name it clean.bat. Save it to the root of your C: drive (ie. c:\clean.bat). Or click here to download it already put together.

deltree /y c:\windows\tempor~1
deltree /y c:\windows\temp
deltree /y c:\windows\tmp
deltree /y c:\windows\ff*.tmp
deltree /y c:\windows\history
deltree /y c:\windows\cookies
deltree /y c:\windows\recent
deltree /y c:\windows\spool\printers
del c:\WIN386.SWP

In Windows 9x, reboot into DOS and type clean at the command line and press enter. In Windows Me, you will need to use a boot floppy to boot into real DOS.

For users of Windows NT, here's a tip from the March 3rd, 2002 Lockergnome Windows Daily:

In Windows 98, it is relatively simple to delete Internet Explorer's data cache from the command prompt (outside of Windows). Since moving to the NT platform, however, I've found it "impossible" to do. Until now, that is. Apparently, there's some kind of bug in IE6 where the browser will slow down and start eating up 100% of the CPU cycles. This could be caused by a corrupt cache - and cannot be cleared through the Internet Options dialog. Thanks to WARP2SEARCH.NET for providing a pointer to the solution! Even if you're not having problems with IE, stepping through this routine every other month is advisable. Launch a command prompt (CMD.EXE) and navigate to C:\ Documents and Settings \ [Username] \ Local Settings \ Temporary Internet Files \ Content.IE5. Close all OTHER running applications. Pull up the Task Manager (CTRL + SHIFT + ESC), right-click the EXPLORER.EXE process and select the "End Process" option. All you should have on the screen at this point is your Command window. Go ahead and enter: "del index.dat" (sans quotes). If need be, use extra switches to get rid of it (and any strangely-spelled subdirectories in the Content.IE5 directory). If you don't understand what I mean, you shouldn't be doing this tip. Click your desktop and restart the Windows Explorer. Pull up the Task Manager again, flip to the "Applications" tab, and press the "New Task" button. Enter: "explorer" (sans quotes). YMMV!

Here's another informative article about this problem for Windows 95/98 and older versions of Internet Explorer. The author also includes his own software for removing these files.


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