Can someone please explain to me how to remove temp and other unneeded files from my machine. I would like an explanation so I don't screw up my machine. I don't think fancy software is the solution, since I doubt that i would be able to safely use it and make decisions about it. Thanks.
If you don't trust software, here are a few things you can do to lighten up space safely.
The files in your /WINDOWS/TEMP/
directory should usually all be safe to delete as long as you aren't installing anything at the time.
You can clear out your Temporary Internet Files for Internet Explorer by going to Tools->Internet Options...
then by clicking Delete Cookies...
and Delete Files...
you can delete your internet cache which will free up some space.
You can uninstall any programs that you really don't need by going to your System Panel
and then Add/Remove Programs
Those are just a few ways, basically, besides uninstalling programs, deleting files, or clearing up your TEMP caches, there isn't much you can do to clear up space beyond that.
I wouldn't be too paranoid, most programs are safe to use in deleteing temporary type items. I recommend TuneUp Utilities 2004
for it. They are a german based company that have some really really useful tools. Also good for cleaning the junk out of the registry among another things.