Is It Safe to Delete Duplicate Files? How to Safely Delete Duplicate Files

Rosa Reyes
time July 15, 2022 Preview 3.3K
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Duplicate files take up space, potentially causing your computer to slow down. And many of us have been there. Removing duplicates can free up space and help improve computer performance. Is it safe to delete duplicate files? Certain types of duplicate files are definitely safe to delete.

But it requires some knowledge to know which duplicates to delete. This article will provide you with the information on what duplicate files are OK to delete and how to delete them safely.

 

Part 1. Is it safe to delete duplicate files on your computer?

Here’s the short answer: Certain duplicate files are safe to delete. They can be deleted to help free up storage and better organize files.

But we need to dig a bit deeper to know exactly what duplicates to delete and how to get rid of them without any risk. For this purpose, check out the Q&As below.

What are duplicate files?

Strictly speaking, duplicate files are files that exactly identical (regardless of how they are named). Files with the same name but different content shouldn’t be deleted as duplicate files.

What duplicate files are safe to delete?

Why do I have duplicate files on my computer? Is it safe to delete duplicate files?

For a variety of reasons, your operating system itself may duplicate files in order to work properly. Duplicates could also be generated when you install or use apps on your computer. I call them system or app related duplicate files. You should never delete them.

You create Word documents and other types of files on your computer. You import or download photos, videos, movies and songs, etc. to your computer. And you (unintentionally) create duplicate files by copying and pasting your files, or by importing/downloading files that already exist, etc. I call them user-created duplicate files. They are safe to remove in most cases.

How do I know which duplicate files to delete?

Don’t bother to deal with the system or app related duplicates in the first place.

Normally, your operating system and apps won’t need user-created duplicates. It depends on you which ones to delete and which ones to keep.

On the one hand, duplicates file A and file A01 are the same file. It should be safe to delete either one.

On the other hand, deleting such duplicate files may take some thinking sometimes. For example, suppose file A is in the “Downloads” folder, and file A01 the “Backup” folder. You want to keep the one in “Backup” and delete the one in “Downloads”. In such a case, you should look at the file path (location) before deleting.

Should I delete duplicate files?

You can delete duplicate files if you are sure of the following.

  • They are truly duplicate files.
  • Your computer and apps don’t need them in order to run properly (or as they normally do).

Part 2. How to safely delete duplicate files

Note: As always, it’s a good idea to back up your files first.

Firstly, make sure that you are finding duplicate files in the right places.

If you are on a Windows PC, stay away from system folders such as “C:\Program Files”, “C:\Program Files (x86)” and “C:\Windows”. You can search for duplicate files in folders like “Desktop”, “Documents”, “Music”, “Pictures” and “Videos”.

If you are on a Mac, keep your hands off system folders such as “Library” and “Applications”. You can search folders like “Desktop”, “Downloads” and “Pictures”.

Secondly, make sure that you accurately find duplicate files. Duplicate file finder software like Cisdem Duplicate Finder can identify duplicate files by content, providing high accuracy.

Lastly, instead of deleting duplicate files permanently, you can move them to the Recycle Bin (on a PC) or Trash (on a Mac). This way, it would be easy to restore files if needed.

Steps: How to delete duplicate files on computer

1. Download and install Cisdem Duplicate Finder. Open it.

Free Download   Free Download

2. Drag one or multiple folders into the software. If needed, click the settings icon and exclude folders/files that you want to keep untouched.

two folders are added

settings

3. Click Scan.

4. When the scan is complete, the results window will display all the duplicate files that have been found. You can view them.

the results window displaying duplicate files

5. The software has automatically selected all duplicates for removal. Or, if you want, you can choose a selection rule or select by hand.

duplicate files are selected for deletion

6. Click Delete to delete the selected unwanted duplicate files. Confirm the deletion.

Now the duplicate files will go to the Recycle Bin (on a PC) or Trash (on a Mac).

This method allows you to delete all or multiple files on computer at once. It’s easy, reliable and efficient.

Tip: Is it safe to remove duplicate files found by CCleaner?

If you have CCleaner installed on your computer, you may find that it allows you to search for duplicate files. Should you delete the duplicates found by it? Let’s find out.

CCleaner

In the first place, you need to set CCleaner to search in a proper way. To do so, ask it to identify duplicates by content. If not, don’t delete the duplicates that it has found. Also, set the search to ignore system files and hidden files.

Conclusion

Is it safe to delete duplicate files? The fact is that duplicate files aren’t always unnecessary. Deleting system related duplicate files could cause your computer to malfunction. Always stay away from them. But most of the space-wasting duplicate files on your computer are safe to delete. I hope this article can help you understand the matter better and get rid of duplicate files without risk.

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Rosa Reyes
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Rosa has worked in Mac software industry for more than eight years. She believes that the purpose of software is to make life better and work more productively. In addition to writing, Rosa is also an avid runner.

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