What is Disk Cleanup and does it remove viruses?

It happens. You’re in the middle of a computing task, and your screen blinks. The blue screen (Stop Error) is shown with the message that your PC ran into an error and needs to restart. These hiccups occur when your computer’s software, firmware, or drivers crash due to faulty or incompatible hardware or software.

If you’re like most people, you want a computer that’s nimble enough to keep up with your life. When your computer is bogged down with outdated files, you aren’t able to work at an efficient pace.

While a new computer or external drive may give you more file storage space, there’s a faster way to gain usable storage space without straining your budget. This option is called disk cleanup, and all Windows computers come with a version of it that you can use to reclaim hard disk space gratis. Here are some things that you need to know about Microsoft’s disk cleanup tool.

What is Disk Cleanup?

Disk cleanup is a maintenance utility that was developed by Microsoft for its Windows operating system. The utility scans your computer’s hard drive for files that you no longer need such as temporary files, cached webpages, and rejected items that end up in your system’s Recycle Bin. Unless you remove those files, they add up over time and begin taking a lot of space on your computer.

The utility displays the identified files and the amount of storage space that each of them uses within your hard drive. You decide which items to delete by the importance that you place on the files and the amount of hard drive space that you’ll be able to recover. In Windows 10, you can reach this utility by going to your start menu and scrolling to Windows Administrative Tools to click the disk cleanup button.

Windows also has the feature Quick Clean which lets you clean up the junk temporary files from your Windows desktop safely and quickly. It also cleans additional junk files, which the Disk Cleanup Utility does not.

What are System updates?

System updates such as major OS releases, monthly patches and emergency updates have become standard for today’s computers. Most operating systems are set to download the latest updates automatically. However, on Windows devices, the previous version of an operating system isn’t always deleted when the latest version replaces it. After years of updates, you’ll often have several versions of the OS on your computer.

The disk cleanup utility allows you to remove backup shadow copies from your computer. Programs that you download to open or edit a document take up storage space on your computer’s hard drive long after you’ve completed your project. Disk cleanup allows you to locate those programs, see how much storage space they use, and remove them to free up hard disk space. You’ll find these features by selecting the “more options” tab within the disk cleanup menu.

What is Storage Sense?

Microsoft Windows 10 comes with an upgraded disk cleanup function that’s called Storage Sense. With Storage Sense, you can set your system to automatically clean up unwanted files by setting the tab to the “on” position. You choose to allow Storage Sense to remove temporary files that your programs no longer use, files in the Download folder that haven’t changed in 30 days, and files that have been sitting in your Recycle Bin for over 30 days. You can reach Storage Sense by going to the Settings menu, clicking on the Systems button, and selecting the Storage option.

What Are the Benefits of Disk Cleanup?

While you can search for temporary files yourself and delete them manually, you save time by using the Windows disk cleanup tool. You can search your entire hard disk for specific files within a matter of seconds with the disk cleanup utility. The tool also gives you greater control over which files to delete and those to keep. When outdated application files are removed from your system, it runs more smoothly and has fewer crashes.

Does Disk Cleanup Remove Viruses?

One of the most common ways that viruses enter computer systems is through downloads. A user lands on an untrusted website and clicks on a button to get a free download. The download contains a virus that goes undetected. If the application remains untouched for longer than 30 days, you can run the disk cleanup utility to find the offending download and remove it quickly. While you shouldn’t use disk cleanup as a replacement for a robust antivirus product, the tool can work in conjunction with a trusted antivirus solution to better safeguard your computer’s system, files, and data.

The Wrap Up

Whether you use your computer to work from home or to manage your household, you’ll want it to function as it should. This includes the flexibility to download a program for a short-term project or quickly process spreadsheets to share with coworkers on an online portal. These operations are greatly impaired when your hard disk is full of unnecessary files and bloatware. Using the Windows disk cleanup tool allows you to remove these files that could contain malware and increase the capacity and safety of your computing environment.