Does It Hurt to Remove Downloads From Your Computer?

By Melly Parker

Removing downloads properly can make your computer run more efficiently.
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Downloading files to your computer can quickly fill your hard drive. If you're frequently trying new software or downloading large files to review, it may be necessary to delete them to open up disk space. Deleting unneeded files is generally good maintenance and doesn't harm your computer.


There are two main benefits to removing downloads from your computer. First and foremost, new space will be clear for future downloads. While documents won't take up much space on modern hard drives, large picture files for advertisements, videos and music files can quickly overrun your computer's storage capacity. Next, removing downloads will make finding files easier. Your downloads folder isn't always the most organized place on your computer and deleting files you don't need will make it easier to locate the one you do need next time you search for it.


The main danger of deleting a file you downloaded to your computer is that you won't be able to use the file again. If you downloaded a contract to review, made changes and then delete the file without saving it with a different name or in a new folder, you'll lose your changes. If the file is necessary to a program you have installed on your computer, removing the downloaded file may cause the program to experience errors or work incorrectly.

Computer Performance

If you notice your computer running more slowly than usual, it may be due to hard disk fragmentation. As you download, use, change, save and delete files, the information is stored at different places on the hard drive. This fragmentation can cause your computer to run less efficiently. Large amounts of downloading and file deletion contributes to fragmentation. Since you can use the Disc Defragmenter tool to clean up your hard drive and and rearrange the files so the computer runs smoothly again, downloading and deleting isn't a concern. Basic computer maintenance with this program takes care of any potential problems; you can also set the tool to run when you aren't at the computer.

Disc Clean Up

When a download is initiated, a temporary file is created on your hard drive and removed when the computer is shut down later. If your computer has ever been incorrectly powered down, the temporary file may still be taking up a small amount of space on your hard drive. If you're concerned about the downloads you're deleting, run Disk Cleanup in your system tools to take care of any lingering temporary files that are clogging up your hard drive.