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8/6/2003
11:40 AM
Fred Langa
Fred Langa
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The Explorer:Scrub Your Hard Disk Clean: Part 2

More ways to clean up -- including Cookie sweeping and Registry compacting!

TIF Orphans?
It's not supposed to happen, but sometimes files can get "lost" or orphaned in the TIF. For example, I've seen video files get "left behind" in the TIF when I've tried to play a clip and Media Player "can't find a suitable codec." My guess is that when Media Player errors out, the Index may not get updated properly, and you end up with TIF files that are not managed by the normal TIF process, and which foul up the normal creation/deletion of directories and file copies in the TIF.

It is this kind of "orphan" file -- files outside the normal TIF structure and process -- that the original Cleanup.Bat was aimed at, as indicated by the embedded REMarks within the batch file that tell you that the "next set of lines deletes possibly-large files that sometimes get placed inappropriately in the 'temporary internet files' directory."

Note the word "inappropriately." Cleanup.Bat does NOT attempt to work on files that are supposed to be in the TIF area; it tries to delete only "orphan" files (if any) that aren't supposed to be there. Cleanup.Bat does nothing to the files that do belong there, and that includes all files that are properly part of the cache and are indexed in the TIF's Index.Dat file.

So, on systems without orphan files in the TIF, Cleanup.Bat would simply give a "file not found," as it should -- operating from DOS, it should see only the same empty directories you saw when you looked at the TIF in DOS.

Confused? Well, it gets worse. Hang on for a moment more, and then we'll cut to the chase and tell you how to move forward with your TIF cleaning.

Dis And Dat
Your PC has several system-generated database files on it called Index.Dat. The ones we're interested in today contain information about your Cookies and the files in the TIF. These Dat files are supposed to be updated as you use Windows: If you use the normal Windows cleanup tools, the Dat files should -- in theory -- remain current and accurate. But if something goes wrong, and especially if you wade in and manually delete files the wrong way, you can end up confusing the Indexing process.

For example, if you manually delete Cookies or TIF files, the Index.Dats may end up containing large numbers of pointers to nonexistent files; the files can grow huge over time. Or: If you delete one of the Index.Dats, Windows may behave strangely, moving the Index to another location, creating inappropriate clone copies, or recreating itself in such a way that it doesn't point to files that do exist. Yikes!

So, the original Cleanup.Bat wasn't aggressive about the TIF. Instead, Part One of this disk-cleanup series recommended reducing the size of your TIF to a manageable minimum (say, 10MB, instead of the default 10 percent of your hard drive space), and regularly cleaning the TIF via Windows Disk Cleanup Wizard and IE's Delete Temporary Internet Files function. With those steps taking care of most of the TIF, and Cleanup.Bat catching any orphan files, you're in good shape.

But many readers wanted more -- they wanted to wipe out the entire TIF, and most or even all their Cookies. Well, both things can be done, but both require caution:

In theory, anything in the TIF should be discardable: After all, the "T" in TIF stands for "Temporary." With care, you can wipe out the entire TIF, deleting all cached Web/Internet files. But because the TIF is alive when Windows is running, you can't do this from a DOS window; you have to shut down Windows and delete the TIF from "pure" DOS. Then, when you restart Windows, it rebuilds a new, empty TIF and Index.Dat, giving your IE cache a completely fresh start.

Cookies have their own Index.Dat file, and it should be in synch with the Index.Dat in the TIF. If you work on one, you should also work on the other. Here's how:

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