Cleaning Temp on logoff

I've noticed that the Temp directory in Windows tends to get a little full, and it doesn't clean itself out. I find this rather odd, as it can eat up a lot of space. While I can't prove that it degrades performance or anything like that, it is a little housekeeping that keeps the more obsessive/compulsive side of myself happy.

There are a couple problems, though. One is just remembering to do it. The other is coming up with a convenient way to do it. If you've ever tried to delete these files by hand, you'll notice that Explorer will spend a lot of unnecessary time enumerating the files it's about to delete, and the first file that's actually in use will cause the entire operation to fail. The easiest way to accomplish the goals and get around the problem of locked files is to use a logoff script that is coded to skip or ignore those files.

Once upon a time, I wrote a VBScript file that would systematically delete each file, one by one. With the dreaded On Error Resume Next statement, I could skip the files that were locked without crashing the script. The added bonus was that I could write code very easily to skip certain files. There is an XP PowerToy that manages 4 virtual desktops, each with its own wallpaper; but it stores the wallpaper for each desktop in Temp, and expects that file to be there even across reboots. The huge drawback to this, of course, is that deleting files one at a time is extremely slow.

I've since decided that I don't use the virtual desktops, so there's no sense in installing that app. And, what I was doing in VBScript could be done with two lines of shell script that runs much faster. Since I always have to look up the reference for batch files and variables and what-not every time I try to create this file, I decided it was time to put it in "extended memory" (i.e. a blog post, where I could find it later).

del %TEMP%\*.* /s /f /q
for /d %%x in (%TEMP%\*) DO rmdir /s /q "%%x"

The first line deletes all files in all subdirectories at and below %TEMP%, without prompting. The second line then iterates all the directories and attempts to remove them, again without prompting.

Getting this to run on logoff isn't something that I'll forget, but for others' benefit, here you go. Note that this is only in Windows XP and 2000; I have not yet figured out the Vista equivalent.

  • Run the Group Policy Management Console (Start, Run, "gpedit.msc")
  • Drill down to "User Configuration\Windows Settings\Scripts (Logon/Logoff)"
  • Double-click Logoff
  • Click "Show Files" to open an Explorer window to where the files go, and copy the batch file there
  • Click "Add" and add the batch file to the script list

I have not yet had an issue with this, but it's always possible something could go wrong, so use at your own risk. :P

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