The option "Empty Temporary Internet Files folders when browser is closed" does not work ?

Published: June 02, 2005
Send your feedback


Microsoft Internet Explorer may fail to delete Temporary Internet files, even if the advanced option to Empty Temporary Internet Files folders when browser is closed is turned on.


This issue occurs because a file lock is placed on temporary Internet files by third-party programs, such as antivirus software, when Internet Explorer tries to perform the temporary file deletion routine. This issue may occur if you try to manually delete the temporary Internet files or when you close Internet Explorer.

This issue may also occur if a central repository is used for temporary Internet files such as a network share, to store temporary Internet files for more than one user in the same folder. Microsoft does not support a configuration. The temporary Internet file location must be set on a "per user" basis, that is one folder per user. This is default behavior for Internet Explorer.

The above information is an excerpt from the following Microsoft Knowledgebase article.

Internet Explorer Does not Delete Temporary Internet Files on Close

Now that you know the reason why the option does not work. Like anti-virus programs, some of the third-party programs may place a lock on your Temporary Internet Files and index.dat. To determine the third-party utilities that have locked the Temporary Internet Files (TIF) index, you may use Process Explorer. This is a top quality tool to manage Processes.


List all Processes that have locked the index.dat

Now, you should see the list of applications which are accessing the index.dat.

Here is a sample screenshot, that shows the list of applications that are using the TIF Index.

In this example, the following applications were using the TIF index.dat

  • Microsoft Outlook Express
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer (obvious)
  • Yahoo! Messenger
  • MSN Messenger
  • CacheSentry

After closing all the applications, I opened a fresh instance of Internet Explorer. Visited a site and then closed it. Now, as the TIF is not locked, Internet Explorer could successfully clear the Temporary Internet Files on exit.

Note To learn the result, you could compare the TIF folder size in Explorer, before and after Internet Explorer is closed. Watch the differences in the TIF folder size between Snapshot 1 and Snapshot 2

In this example, around 500 TIF files have been erased, thus freeing up ~4MB of space when IExplore was closed.

Related articles

Know which process has locked a file

Clear the Temporary Internet Files using the Windows XP Disk Cleanup utility