When you first buy a PC, it runs smoothly and is at its best performance. However, as you start working on it and begin to install and uninstall programs, create new files and documents, and browse the Internet, your hard disk starts getting cluttered with files. Although, most of these files are important system and user files, some of these are just junk or orphan files that take up space on the hard disk. If you free up this space, you can not only make adequate space for new programs and files, but also improve system performance considerably.
Hard disks with large amounts of storage space have just been recently introduced into the market. Up until a few years ago, most of the high-end PCs boasted of only 10-20 GB of memory. But today, if you purchase a new PC, you will not need to worry about storage space for some time. However, if your PC is old, or if you are in a habit of installing and uninstalling programs often, then you need to take a few steps to keep your PC free of orphan files.
Causes of Cluttered Hard Disk
When you perform a program uninstall, the application you uninstall might leave some orphan files on the system. Desktop icon, Quick Launch icon, and Start menu shortcuts are some of the more visible orphan files. However, there is also a good chance that the application has left a number of other useless files on the system that escaped the system’s program uninstall feature. This leads to cluttering of hard disk.
Improper programming is one of main sources of this problem. Most of the software programmers use installer/uninstaller programs such as InstallShield that are developed and thoroughly tested by larger developers. However, if a programmer modifies the installer and accidentally damages the files or uses some other buggy installer/uninstaller program then the chances of orphan files on your system increases. You can always search for the orphan files on the system and invalid entries in the registry manually. But, this is a time consuming task. Additionally, if you delete an important system file or registry entry by mistake, then the chances of damages increase greatly.
Many times, programmers will deliberately leave orphan files on your system. This usually happens when you install trial versions of the software and the programmer wants to ensure that you do not reinstall the program to evade the trial period. Many times, orphan files consist of settings that are used to configure your application if you upgrade it to a newer version.
Unwarranted system shutdown and crashes during the program uninstall or install process might also leave orphan files on your PC.
How to Prevent and Remove Orphan Files
It is not always possible for you to prevent orphan files from taking up valuable space on your system. However, you can take some steps to reduce their number.
You can reduce the number of orphan files by using the Add/Remove Programs feature included in your Windows system. To do this, open the Control Panel and double-click on the Add or Remove Programs icon. Next, from the list of programs displayed, select the program you want to uninstall and select Remove. Next, follow the uninstaller instructions to safely complete the uninstall process.
Not all programs are added to the Add or Remove programs list. To uninstall such programs, open the Start menu and browse through the program list and open the submenu of the program you want to uninstall. If a shortcut such as Uninstall YourProgram is there in the list, select it to uninstall the program. In case the uninstall shortcut is not available in the Start menu, then perform a search to look for the folder where the files of the program are stored. Look for the uninstall file in this folder and double click on it to initiate the program uninstall process.
If your PC crashed when you were performing program uninstall, reinstall the program and then start the uninstall process again. You can also choose to buy a third-party program uninstall software that are more efficient and make it easy for you to ensure that your PC is free from orphan files and invalid registry entries. Additionally, you can download a registry cleaner software, to regularly scan the registry and keep it free from invalid and obsolete entries.
With continuous PC use, many orphan files make their way into your system. These files usually get left behind when a program uninstall process is unable to remove them from the system. You can prevent most of these problems by being vigilant about the programs you install on your system. Also, to reduce the number of orphan files and prevent cluttering of your hard disk, you must always follow the correct program uninstall process. You can also use a third-party program uninstall program and registry cleaner tools to ensure an uncluttered and healthy system.