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Managing your Internet Explorer Temporary Internet Files

By on April 26, 2004 | Last Updated: February 27, 2012 | Read 80,340 times.
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Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Configuring your Temporary Internet Files Settings
  3. Deleting Temporary Internet Files
  4. Conclusion

Introduction

Every time you visit a web page Internet Explorer makes a copy of the content of these web pages as files on your computer. These files are called Temporary Internet Files and are used to allow for faster displaying of web sites that you visit. Depending on the setting, when you visit a web site Internet Explorer will compare the content of that web site with the information stored in the Temporary Internet Files and only download the content from the Internet if it has changed. This enables you to browse the web much quicker because you do not have to download these files.

In most cases Temporary Internet Files do not pose a problem, but there some situations that make it important for you to clean out these files. One common reason is that you are worried about your privacy. If you give your computer to someone they would potentially be able to discover information about web pages that you visit because copies of these web sites are stored locally on the computer.

If privacy is not an issue, then you may be concerned with how much space these files take up. Temporary Internet Files, by default, take up 10% of your system partitions disk space. In the past this was not a problem as drives were smaller, but with drives ranging up to 100's of GB of storage this can equate to large amounts of disk space allocated towards these files. You only need 50 MB for the Temporary Internet Files to work efficiently, so there is a lot of wasted disk space that we can reclaim for our personal use.

In this tutorial we will discuss how you can manage Internet Explorer and address these concerns.

Configuring your Temporary Internet Files Settings

In this section of the tutorial we are going to go over the options on how you can configure Internet Explorer to use Temporary Internet Files.

Click on the Start button and then click on Control Panel. Then double-click on the Internet Options icon.

Once you double click on the Internet Options icon you will be presented with a screen similar to Figure 1 below.



Figure 1. General Tab of Internet Options

 

To access the settings for the Temp. Internet files you will click on the Settings button designated by the blue box in Figure one above. When you click on the Settings button you will be presented with a screen similar to Figure 2 below.

 


Figure 2. Temp Internet Files Settings

 

The settings dialog shown in Figure 2 is broken down into two sections as described below:

Check for newer versions of stored pages - The options in this section tell Internet Explorer what it should do when you visit a web page. Every time you visit a web site Internet Explorer stores a copy of this web page in the Temporary Internet Files folder. When you revisit that same web page, whether or not that information is downloaded again or taken directly from locally stored copy is decided based upon the setting you choose in this section. These settings are described below:

Every visit to the page
If you select this option then every time you view a web page that you had viewed previously, Internet Explorer will check to see if the web page content has been changed since you last viewed it. If it has changed, Internet Explorer will display the new page and store a copy of it in the Temporary Internet Files folder.
 
Setting this selection can increase the time it takes to view a web page, but will guarantee that you are viewing only the most current content from that page and not content that was stored in your Temporary Internet Files.
 
Recommendation: Use this option if you always want to see the most current content of a particular web site.
 
Every time you start Internet Explorer
If you select this option Internet Explorer will only check web pages for newer content the first time you go to it since starting Internet Explorer. That means that if you start Internet Explorer and visit a web site, Internet Explorer will check for new content. If you go to that site again in the same session, having not restarted Internet Explorer, the web site will not be checked for newer content and Internet Explorer will display the content from the Temporary Internet Files.
 
Using this option can reduce the amount of time it takes to display a web page but there is no guarantee that the content that is displayed when you revisit a web site is the most current.
 
If you use this option and want to see the most current version of a web site you can click on the View menu and then click on Refresh.
 
Recommendation: Use this option if you only care about seeing the most current content of a web site during that one session of Internet Explorer. For most people this option is the best choice.
 
 
 
Automatically
 
 
Selecting this option will have Internet Explorer manage how it checks for new content on web sites. When you visit a web site Internet Explorer will not check for new content when you revisit a web site during the same session or even the same day. Over time Internet Explorer will determine whether or not images are changing on the pages you visit, and if they do not change will check for newer images even less frequently.
 
Using this option will display the web site in the quickest manner but at the time same give you no guarantee that you are viewing the latest content.
 
If you use this option and want to see the most current version of a web site you can click on the View menu and then click on Refresh.
 
Recommendation: With the high speed of Internet connections these days you should generally not use this option.
Never
With this option Internet Explorer will never check to see if the content on a web site is the most current and you will always be given the content stored in the Temporary Internet files.
 
If you want to see whether a specific page has been updated even when this option is selected, click the View menu, and then click Refresh.
 
Recommendation: You should never use this option.

Temporary Internet Files folder - This section gives you information about the actual folder where the Temporary Internet Files are stored as well as the ability to manage the settings associated with these files/folders.

Current Location
This shows the current location of your Temporary Internet Files folder.
 
Amount of Disk Space to Use
This shows the amount of disk space that will be allocated for your Temporary Internet Files. By default Windows uses 10 percent of your Windows system partition. This amount can be significant if you use the 10 percent model. It is advised that you change this setting to a lower number such as 50 MB.
 
Move Folder
Pressing this button will allow you to change the location where your Temporary Internet Files folder is stored.
 
View Files
Clicking on this button will open your Temporary Internet Files folder and display the contents. Press this button with caution because if you have a large amount of disk space allocated towards Temporary Internet Files it can take a while to open this folder.
 
View Objects
Clicking on this button will open up your Downloaded Program Files directory which contains files that were downloaded to your computer, usually using ActiveX.

To exit from the Settings dialog, click on the OK button and then click on the OK button again.

 

Deleting Temporary Internet Files

A common question is "How do I Delete or clear the Contents of the Temporary Internet Files folder?", and we will give you step by step instructions on how to do this below.

Step 1: Click on the Start button and then click on Control Panel. Then double-click on the Internet Options icon. You will now be presented with an screen similar to Figure 3 below.

 


Figure 3. General Tab of Internet Options

 

Step 2: Click once on the Delete Files button designated by the red box in Figure 3 above. This will bring up a confirmation box similar to Figure 4 below.

 


Figure 4. Confirmation to delete Temporary Internet Files

 

Step 3: Click on the checkbox labeled Delete all offline content if you would like to delete content that you marked as viewable when you are not connected to the Internet. If you do not have offline content you can leave this unchecked.

Step 4: You should then click on the OK button which will start the process of deleting all of your Temporary Internet Files. This can take a while so do not be concerned if it looks like the Internet Options screen has become frozen. When it is done deleting the files, the Internet Options screen will go back to normal and you will be able to press the OK button to close the window.

Now your Internet Explorer Temporary Internet Files have been deleted from your computer.

Conclusion

By understanding how to manage your Temporary Internet Files you can optimize how Internet Explores views web pages as well as takes up disk space on your computer.

As always if you have any questions please feel free to post them in our computer help forums.

--
Lawrence Abrams
Bleeping Computer Windows Basic Concept Tutorials
BleepingComputer.com: Computer Support & Tutorials for the beginning computer user.

 

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