The %AppData% folder is located in the profile of each Windows user and is used to store individual user settings of applications. The AppData (Application Data) folder is present in all versions of Windows since Windows 7. Programs installed on the computer can save personal user settings in the AppData profile directory.
Hint. Programs store global settings that should be available to all users of the computer in the C:\ProgramData directory. In Windows 7, the general settings of all users were stored in the C:\Users\All usersAppdata.
The AppData directory is hidden by default. To display this folder in File Explorer, go to the user directory (C:\Users\user_name), click on the View tab and select the Hidden items checkbox.
You can quickly go to the user’s AppData directory using the following paths in the File Explorer address bar C:\Users\%UserName%\AppData or %USERPROFILE%\AppData.
Note that there are three folders in the AppData directory: Local, LocalLow, and Roaming. Let’s consider what they are used for:
- Local – This is where application settings that cannot be moved to another computer are stored. Most often, these are temporary, installation files, cache, cookies, etc. There is a separate environment variable %LOCALAPPDATA% for this folder that you can use in your batch files and scripts.
- LocalLow is used mainly for buffer data generated by various apps (Internet Explorer, Java, Adobe, etc.). It is also used by low-level access systems, for example, for temporary files of your browser when working in protected mode. This directory also cannot be moved to another computer.
- Roaming. This application settings folder can be transferred (moved) to another computer. This can store browser data, bookmarks, etc. This directory allows the user to always work with the familiar environment on any server in the Remote Desktop Services farm when using roaming profiles or User Profile Disks. The environment variable for this directory is %APPDATA%.
The AppData directory over time accumulates quite a lot of temporary files and other garbage, which takes up a lot of disk space. For example, the Local directory contains the Temp directory used by programs to store temporary files. You can clean the AppData\Local\Temp directory without harming Windows.
When you install and use each new application, the size of the AppData folder becomes larger. The more programs and games on your computer, the larger the size of the AppData folder. Windows itself doesn’t control the size of this folder, respectively, it can grow up to tens, or even hundreds of gigabytes.
Moreover, the removal of a program or game from the computer doesn’t always lead to the removal of files from AppData. When you uninstall app through using standard tools, most applications don’t clean their data from the AppData folder. It turns out that AppData stores data about a program that is no longer on the computer, and they take up space on the system drive.
Note. You don’t have to manually delete the contents of the AppData folder if you do not know how deleting the directory can affect the installed apps.
To clean up the AppData directory, you can use the built-in Windows 10 Disk Cleanup Wizard. Go to Settings > System > Storage and select your system drive. Select Temporary files.
Select Temporary Internet Files and Temporary files and click the Remove Files button.
If the AppData directory has become very large, to save space on the system disk (this is especially true for SSD), you can move the Roaming directory to another disk. To do this, open the properties of the Roaming folder, go to the Location tab, click the Move button and specify a new location for the Roaming directory.
However, it is best to create an AppData directory junction (create a symbolic link):
mklink /d C:\Users\%UserName%\AppData d:\username\appdata
After that, move the directory to a new location (you must perform this task under a different user with administrator permissions).