A Digital Bits reader writes:
In the “Disk Cleanup” function when the system determines what I can eliminate it always shows that I have in Office Setup Files 220,550kb of information. Is it possible to remove this data without causing harm to my current programs or system and if so, will it really give me that much extra room? I currently have approximately 72% free space in a system that has 28GB of total memory.
The (very) short answer: Leave the Office Setup Files on your system. Don’t delete them, and don’t use the Disk Cleanup tool unless you’re running low on disk space. Removing the files won’t hurt anything, but deleting them won’t give you much extra room.
The (very) long answer: I’ve broken this paragraph into 3 questions. See below.
1) What are the Office Setup Files, and why do they take up so much space?
The Office Setup Files are used by Microsoft Office during program updates. If you visit http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/officeupdate you can check for these free program updates to Microsoft Office by clicking the “Check for Updates” link.
Your computer may need the Office Setup Files to help apply those updates. If you don’t have the Office Setup Files on your PC, the update process will ask you for your Microsoft Office install disks. The Office Setup Files are used to make updates easier. Without them you often have to dig up the install CDs when updating.
Unless you’re unusually low on disk space, I always recommend you leave the Office Setup Files on your computer. The increased convenience is worth it.
2) What is the “Disk Cleanup” tool?
The Microsoft Windows Disk Cleanup program allows you to easily remove potentially unneeded information from your computer. I say “potentially” because some files, like the Office Setup Files, are something you may want to keep. The Recycle Bin, Temporary, and other files can be deleted without worry, and will not affect other programs. The last option to “Compress Old Files” can also be used, though this may cause slower systems to run even slower.
3) Do I need to use it?
The only reason to use the tool is if you’re running low on disk space. A very rough recommendation is to start cleaning up your drive when you’ve got less than 10% free space. So if you’ve got a 100 GB drive, then start cleaning when you’ve got less than 10 GB left.