Computer orphans explained

Question: What are orphans and can I safely delete them? – Larry

Answer: In the context of humans, they’re people without parents. Similarly, in the world of computers, orphans are files that no longer have a parent program.

When you install a program, many files that serve different purposes are copied to your hard drive. They’re all designed to serve the greater program, usually an executable that ends with the file extension EXE. When you uninstall the parent program, some files may get left behind on your hard disk. These are orphan files, and since they serve no purpose, they can be safely deleted.

They get left behind for a variety of reasons. Sometimes a program leaves them because they contain settings information. The idea is that if you reinstall the program, your settings will be recovered. Sometimes they are DLL files, or dynamic linked libraries. Those are like a tool chest that contains common tools that programs use regularly, say, to create a window.