Optimizing your Hard Drive for your Browser's Cache Files

If you do a lot of web browsing, you are collecting a lot of files on your hard drive in what is often referred to as the Browser Cache. Within Internet Explorer these are referred to as "Temporary Internet Files" and within Firefox they are referred to as "Cache".

A worthwhile exercise is to move the location where your browser stores its cached files. This is particularly important if you use a tool like DiskMagik to achieve maximum performance from your harddrive and keep it automatically defragmented all the time. DiskMagik runs quietly in the background and looks for fragmented files and continually defragments them. This is a good thing for your regular files but a HUGE waste of system energy to do it for the browser cache.

Every page you visit is "cached" by default and the files stored locally on your computer for some period of time. Although your browser can be set to NOT save these files, it is a lot faster to do it so that when you reload the page another time, many of the files are already stored and so the web page can load much more quickly. You may have noticed that the first time a webpage loads it does so rather slowly, depending on the number of files, images, etc... and the next time it loads it seems to be instantaneous. This is your browser's cache at work. Most people keep their cache enabled.

However the downside here is that a program like DiskMagik must work continuously to defragment these cached files as you browse the web. This means a slight reduction in system performance and at the same time your drive is working harder with all the defragmenting going on continuously. Therefore it is beneficial to store these cached files on a separate logical partition or "drive" and tell DiskMagik not to waste its time and energy defragmenting this drive.

You can also point your browser to a separate partition if you already have one, or to an external or separate physical drive, however if you launch IE or Firefox at some point where the external drive is not connected then the browser will automatically and instantly revert to the default location described above.

For this reason it may be necessary to create a new partition.

For IE8 on Windows 7, those browser cache files are located here:

C:\Users\[USERNAME]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Low\Content.IE5

For Firefox 3.5 and higher, those browser cache files are located here:


Your username will vary, of course, and is the name you sign on to Windows with. With Firefox it uses a random set of characters in the Profiles section and you need to make a note of those.

Now you can partition your drive easily to create a small partition where you put these "Temporary Internet Files" or Cache.

Here's how to do it:

Internet Explorer 7 and 8

Open IE and go to:
Tools > Internet Options > Browsing History > Settings > Move folder
and point it to a separate drive other than your C drive or the drive(s) you have DiskMagik set to monitor for automatic or 'pro-active' defragmentation.

Firefox 3.5 and higher

With Firefox, it is a little trickier but easy enough:

  • type about:config in the Firefox address bar
  • Right click your mouse and select New > String from the Menu
  • In the String dialog box, just type or paste in browser.cache.disk.parent_directory and hit ok
  • Then in the next box for 'Value' enter the location you wish to use, for instance D:\temp or in the case of the screenshot below, X:\Firefox
  • Close your browser then when you reopen it and start browsing your cache files should go to the new directory on the alternate drive

FireFox cache designation


Now it is pointless to use a very large drive or partition for your browser cache unless you want to exclude the entire drive from defragmentation. Therefore we are going to explain how you can simply and easily create a separate logical partition for your browser cache files.

So let's get started. NOTE: the process described below works for Windows Vista and Windows 7. For Windows XP, you will need to install a third party partitioning utility such as Partition Logic a free utility which should do the job for you.

So for Windows 7/Vista, rightclick on "Computer" on the start menu and select "Manage". This opens the Computer Management utility. On the left select Storage>Disk Management. This will display the size of your existing harddrive and logical partitions you may already have. Let's say you have a C drive with 300 GB and no other partitions.

It is a simple matter to rightclick on the C drive and choose "shrink" - then it will analyze the drive and give you an option for how many MB you wish to shrink your drive. Remember this is in MB, not GB. So for example if it gives you an option to shrink it by 102,400 MB, that is exactly 100 GB. You can use this whole recommendation as Windows will automatically leave you plenty of headroom for your primary OS.

For our purposes, if we want to create a separate partition just to locate IE's Temporary Internet Files, or Firefox's Cache, 4000 MB is plenty in most cases. The only reason you might want it larger is if you are downloading very large files like entire movies and need to temporarily store them in the cache. So you may wish to adjust that size accordingly depending on usage and the size of the primary drive.

If you are going to go with the recommended 4000 MB, you reduce that number shown for the new partition to 4000 and click OK, this will reduce the size of the C drive by 4000 MB and place it as unallocated space.

Once that is complete, if you rightclick on the unallocated space and choose "New Volume" you can create a new partition from the unallocated space and name it whatever you like... for example 'IE Cache' or FireFox Cache or whatever you like.

That is all there is to it. You have now created a logical partition to which you can point your browser for its cached files.

Note occasionally if you are trying to create a logical partition in between two or more partitions, you may or may not be able to extend another drive by that amount of space, as the space must be contiguous for the Windows partition utility. For more complex operations like that you may need to try a 3rd party partitioning application. But for most cases, you can do it exactly as described above.

Once again... the process above works for Windows Vista and Windows 7. For Windows XP, you will need to install a third party partitioning utility. Partition Logic is one such free utility which should do the job for you. You can also find other free tools to do the job. Note: if reformatting your computer, Windows allows you to create multiple partitions when installing Windows.

If you found this tutorial useful, please try DiskMagik and start enjoying faster system performance immediately