Is it safe to kill those strange files on the hard drive?

A reader wrote this week with a question about some unidentified files on the root level of his hard drive, asking if it would be OK to delete them.

I needed a bit more information, so after a few exchanged messages I was able to determine the files were on the root level of the C drive of a Windows 7 system.

The reader also provided a screenshot showing the filenames and other information, such as size and date modified.

The Windows Explorer screenshot showed that the file names were seemingly random strings of letters and numbers separated by dashes and enclosed in brackets.

When I asked the reader to open one of the files in WordPad to see if there were any clues to the program that wrote the files, he said the files opened up 30 to 40 pages of code and offered no clues.

Looking further at the screenshot, I noticed the files (there were five) were all created in 2010 and were all identified generically as “file” under the File Type menu. No help there.

The file sizes ranged from 3 KB to 190 KB.

I did some Internet searching to see if I could find others who had the same issue, and it didn’t take long to find more than a few.

I didn’t find any confirmation of why the files exist or what program created them, but the advice I found jibes with my own.

I told the reader to create a folder on his desktop and move the files from the root level of the C drive to the new folder.

The next step is to just observe how the computer behaves for the next few days or weeks.

If nothing seems out of the ordinary, it’s probably OK to trash those files. To be on the safe side, since the files are so small, it would also be OK to just let them live in their new folder for a while (maybe longer).

Others who have done this have reported new files showing up in the same place.

If the same types of files do reappear, I’d say it’s best just to leave them alone and monitor the situation every few weeks.

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ABOUT THE WRITER

Jim Rossman writes for The Dallas Morning News. He may be reached at jrossman@dallasnews.com.