Several control panels in Windows have customizable settings, such as the ability to display or hide sections of information. Windows stores these options in console files. Every control panel that uses console files contains the option to delete all console files. In earlier versions of Windows, the option appeared in the defragmentation utility, making it incorrectly seem as if the files are directly related to the process of defragmentation, when in fact you can delete them at any point to reset your console settings and free some drive space.
Deleting Console Files
In previous versions of Windows, such as Windows XP, the option to delete console files appeared in the Options window found in the File menu of the defragmentation utility. Windows 7's defragmenter does not contain a File menu or the option to delete console files. Instead, access the Options entry in the File menu of any control panel containing it, such as Computer Management or Device Manager. Once in the options window, click "Delete Files" to erase the console files.
Benefits of Deletion
In most cases, console files use very little space, often under a single megabyte. However, if your console files do take up an excessive amount of drive space, as listed next to the "Delete Files" button, deleting them will recover this space. Any further changes after deletion will make the system create new console files. Deleting console will reset the appearance of control panels like Computer Management to their default settings, so you can also delete the files to undo any changes you have made.
Downside of Deletion
Deleting console files will not harm your system, but will remove any customizations you've made to control panels. For example, the Computer Management control panel offers customizable displays for tracking and monitoring computer usage and hardware. Erasing the console files will reset these customizations back to the factory settings. Deleting console files only affects these customizations, and not actual system options modified in the control panels.
Deletion and Defragmentation
The Windows defragmenter cannot work on files currently in use by the system, which may include console files. In these cases, deleting the console files prior to defragmentation will allow for a more complete defragmentation process. However, due to the small file size of console files, the effect on defragmentation is minimal. There is no need to delete the console files regularly for the sake of defragmentation or to save disk space.