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Temporary files

Temporary files are used by different applications to store data to the hard drive or other storage devices in order to retrieve it later. Temporary files could be used for various purposes:

  • Minimize memory usage by an application. Certain applications generate significant amount of data during their usage. A good example are video and photo processing applications which need to store significant chunks of video or high-resolution image layers in memory. If computer doesn’t have enough memory to store all application information, then part of the information is temporarily stored on disk. This is achieved either by temporary files generated by an application or by operating system paging file (temporary file used by operating system to store data which doesn’t fit into memory).
  • Backup data and restore it in case application crashes. Applications which work with some customer information and store it in memory use temporary files to backup this information to disc from time to time. If application crashes due to any reason it will be still possible to restore user data to the point when data was saved last time.
  • Prepare and process data and accumulate it in a single file. This mechanism is used by video processing apps when temporary file is used to accumulate generated video while application is working on it.
  • Process data which doesn't fit into RAM (random access memory). Operating systems use paging file which offloads memory pages which are not currently used by any application onto hard drive in order to reduce memory consumption.

Let's review an example of partial download files used by browsers to store files which are being downloaded from the internet. While the file is being downloaded it is stored under temporary file name with extensions of PART, CRDOWNLOAD, PARTIAL (depending on the browser used). After download is complete the file is renamed to the final file name.

Browsers can store partially downloaded file in memory but if browser crashes the information will be lost. Downloaded file could be too large to store in computer memory. By using partial download files some browsers are even able to restore failed download from the point where it failed.

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PART Quick Info
Mozilla Firefox Partial Download File
Depends on the type of file being downloaded
PART File Opens with
  • Resume in Mozilla Firefox
  • Text Editor
  • HEX Editor