Is It Safe to Erase Off-Line Web Pages With Disk Cleanup?by Andrew Aarons
With Internet Explorer 4, Microsoft took the Web off-line. The Web browser -- and all of its subsequent versions -- included an option to save Web pages for off-line viewing, meaning that you could bookmark a long article or interesting page to see even when not connected to the Internet. You can later remove these pages from your PC quite safely using system utilities like Disk Cleanup.
About Off-Line Pages
When you bookmark a page using Internet Explorer you can also choose to save the page for later viewing by clicking "Make Available Offline." This tells Internet Explorer to save everything on that Web page (not the entire website) to your local computer, downloading all of the images and text. It's convenient for dealing with really long articles or lots of photos but takes up space on your hard drive.
When your computer's hard drive starts filling up, you can use built-in Windows utilities like Disk Cleanup to erase unused or seldom-used files to clear up space. Windows classifies your off-line Web pages as unused or seldom-used and therefore highlights these pages to remove. Erasing these pages won't harm your computer; it will just make the pages inaccessible if you aren't connected to the Internet.
Unless you've saved hundreds of graphic-heavy Web pages for off-line viewing, chances are that your off-line pages aren't taking up a significant amount of space on your hard drive. When using Disk Cleanup, you can uncheck "Remove Offline Pages" and use the other default settings to clear space on your hard drive while maintaining your collection of off-line pages.
Manually Manage Off-Line Pages
Instead of using Disk Cleanup to delete all of your off-line pages at once, you can use Interent explorer to manage off-line pages and select which ones to remove. In Internet Explorer, click "Favorites" and then "Organize Favorites." Scroll to a page that you wish to remove from your hard drive and uncheck "Make Available Offline." The page is still in your favorites but won't be stored locally, freeing up disk space.
- George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images