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Deleting Old Windows Update Uninstall Files?

Cliff posted about 10 years ago | from the reclaiming-much-needed-hard-disk-space dept.

Windows 61

Frozen-Solid asks: "With the release of Windows XP SP2, I got to thinking about how all of these windows updates leave their uninstall information 'just in case' you need to uninstall them for some random reason. However, after you've had them up and running for a few weeks/months/years and no longer need that backup information, is it safe to just delete those ugly hidden directories from the Windows directory or is there a 'safer' way to free up that wasted space? My current update backup collection is totaling over half a gig which could easily be better spent elsewhere."

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Ask Slashdot? How about asking Google first.. (3, Informative)

OutRigged (573843) | about 10 years ago | (#9954033)

Re:Ask Slashdot? How about asking Google first.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9954076)

Even better:

Google Groups remove $NtUninstallK []

"The backups are there for hotfixes that are uninstallable. This is an option only for some updates, and it is there in case the update causes issues for you (so you can uninstall it if necessary). If you don't plan on uninstalling it and want to conserve drive space, there is nothing wrong with removing them. I keep each backup for about a month before removing it."

Re:Ask Slashdot? How about asking Google first.. (1, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | about 10 years ago | (#9954081)

but then you lose your 5 minutes of slashdot fame! where's the fun in that.

(seriously, a lot of these on slashdot seems just like the product of thinkin up a problem - then not trying to solve it - and posting to slashdot)

seriously, if something would get solved with google, and if not with it then faster on some irc channel or smaller forum than slashdot why waste slashdots bandwith and readers time about reading flamy comments spurring from simple answers.

Re:Ask Slashdot? How about asking Google first.. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9955258)

not everyone thinks about issues like this one (i hadn't), but thanks to this being here, i now know its cool to remove those files, so i can download 120 more megabytes of pr0n. thank you frozen-solid!

if you don't like a blurb, read the summary and move on. why bitch about it? this is a free site, its not like you're paying them to provide you with relevant breaking news, are you?

Re:Ask Slashdot? How about asking Google first.. (1)

Frozen-Solid (569348) | about 10 years ago | (#9964196)

Exactly. I figured it was worth a slashdot post simply because not everyone even REALIZES that those files are there and take up space. For those who pinch hard drive space like myself it helps. Sure after posting I spent a bit of time on Google and found the answer, but not everyone's going to think that Windows keeps backups of it's own install files for updates which are supposed to fix things and not break them. Heck... I just found them by accident and realized they were using up so much space. If the /. admins think it's worthy to go live, then who cares anyway. It's not like your post will get the topic deleted. If you dont think it's important, don't read it.

Re:Ask Slashdot? How about asking Google first.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9955294)

You may find this hard to believe but Slashdot predates Google. At one time these Ask Slashdot stories used to make a lot of sense because it was a lot harder to find the answer online.

(Not that that is any excuse for the lame Ask Slashdot stories up ons here these days...)

Have you tried asking Bill Gates?!? (2, Funny)

xmas2003 (739875) | about 10 years ago | (#9954540)

He put it there in the first place!

Re:Have you tried asking Bill Gates?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9956725)

Bill didn't, his lackeys (read: developers) did.

You can't blame Bill for everything...

(or can you.. Hmmm)

sp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9954039)

second post! :p

safest way.... (2, Insightful) (562495) | about 10 years ago | (#9954062)

Copy the backup the files on CD (700 MB) and delete them.

Re:safest way....But... (1)

jmlyle (512574) | about 10 years ago | (#9956393)

>> Copy the backup the files on CD (700 MB) and delete them.

If I copy them to a CD, how do I delete them?

Uninstall (2, Informative)

Konster (252488) | about 10 years ago | (#9954067)

It is presumably safe to remove unless you need to uninstall a service pack, or if that service pack requires files from the uninstall directory.

I've always deleted them after a few day's worth of testing, with no ill side effects.

Your milage can and will vary :)

Re:Uninstall (2, Funny)

JVert (578547) | about 10 years ago | (#9955244)

Yes I agree that when I no longer need files I can usually delete them without any problems. However this is not always the case.

Don't you dare delete! (5, Funny)

GuyMannDude (574364) | about 10 years ago | (#9954093)

Each of those Windows Update temporary files are a badge of honor to a geek. Football heros and motorcycle bad-boys have scars on their bodies with which they can impress the chicks. Think of all that excess crap on your computer as "cyber-scars". Next time you bring a date back to your apartment, wink at her coyly and tell her "I want to show you something that I don't show most girls." Then show her your directory filled with the remenants of your numerous battles with Windows Update. She'll get weak in the knees and be all over you. If you want to be extra-sure of making an impression, make sure to point out specific files and tell her a story about how you got that particular "scar." It would be best if your story involves orphans or kittens.

Don't laugh. Think of me when you're having the best sex of your life!


Re:Don't you dare delete! (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 10 years ago | (#9954100)

bonzi is better at making impressions and leaves more scars too!

Re:Don't you dare delete! (4, Funny)

pyrrhonist (701154) | about 10 years ago | (#9954670)

Don't laugh. Think of me when you're having the best sex of your life!

Now thanks to your Jedi Mind Trick, the next time I'm in the throes of wild, passionate love with my significant other, suddenly, to her chagrin, I'll start screaming:

"GuyMannDude, GUyMaNNDuDe, GUYMANDUDE, shit, GuYMAnnDudE!!!!"
Thus ruining my chances of ever scoring again. Thanks a lot, jerk.

Re:Don't you dare delete! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9954704)

That's gotta be one of the funniest things I've read today. Still laughing while waiting for the latest Naruto episodes to, I mean, getting a sensual massage from my hot swimsuit model girlfriend.

Re:Don't you dare delete! (1)

Phleg (523632) | about 10 years ago | (#9954856)

Mathematicians do it smoothly and continuously

And generally in a well-behaved manner ;)

Re:Don't you dare delete! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9955616)

Mathematicians do it smoothly and continuously

And generally in a well-behaved manner ;)

But the problem is that they think that the quickest resolution is "the most elegant".
Some of us know that laborious, messy, and drawn out steps can lead to much more satisfying conclusions.

More like a goiter than a scar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9955005)

Or maybe a nice collection of boils.

Re:Don't you dare delete! (1)

Jerf (17166) | about 10 years ago | (#9955006)

Think of me when you're having the best sex of your life!

True; with those instructions, "only" would definately be "best".

yup (1)

blandthrax (575357) | about 10 years ago | (#9954108)

Delete 'em ... and then go into the registry (make sure you back up, yada yada yada) and delete the add/remove entries. Easy as cake. Once I'm sure an update isn't going to fuck up my system, I always delete the uninstalls.

DELETE EM!! because: (2, Informative)

pio!pio! (170895) | about 10 years ago | (#9954268)

Well since installing SP2, the add/remove entries for all the other little hotfixes were removed. So I assume this means they were rolled up into the service pack which makes sense. Therefore I just deleted all the uninstall directories for those little suckers leaving only the one for service pack 2

Re:DELETE EM!! because: (1)

Triumph The Insult C (586706) | about 10 years ago | (#9955164)

no, they're not removed

windows hotfixes/patches are just hidden by default now

Re:DELETE EM!! because: (2, Informative)

penguinboy (35085) | about 10 years ago | (#9955222)

They're just hidden. There's a little checkbox in Add/Remove to re-show them.

Re:DELETE EM!! because: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9957343)

They're just hidden.

Well, that's likely true, but those updates ARE all included in SP2 - I just did a fresh install, and windowsupdate has no patches available at all.

Reinstall (1)

CyberVenom (697959) | about 10 years ago | (#9954391)

Reinstalling windows is a normal part of using the OS, and you will surely be doing it soon - that may be the best time to resolve this. Microsoft has an official (and overly complicated) procedure for integrating the service pack installations into the base windows install. (This is aimed mostly at OEMs and Sysadmins, but any tech-savvy geek should be able to accomplish it with minimal head-banging) When installed in this manner, the service packs and security hotfixen do not leave backup data or Add/Remove programs entires.
See the "Combination Installation" section of this article: tools/tools/hfdeploy.mspx
(This is for 2000, and I'm not sure if you can do the same to XP)
Just a thought, but if you dig through the appropriate resource kit utilities and knowledgebase docs, you may find a way to put all this on the install CD. (maybe as simple as dumping it in the i386 folder?) A script to automatically build a windows install+sp+hotfix iso from an install CD and a pile of hotfix and service pack files would be a tool well appreciated by the community and an interesting evening project for any geek with too much spare time. ;) Just imagine not having to install all the old hotfixen separately every time you reinstall windows!

Re:Reinstall (1)

Konster (252488) | about 10 years ago | (#9954458)

It's called slipstreaming, and it takes all of 10 minutes. Maybe less, and that ten minutes might have included the time my CD burner took to rattle off a slipstreamed XP install disk w/SP2.

Also included in that 10 minutes is the time my CD drive took to copy the original XP disk to my hard drive.

Re:Reinstall (1)

jannesha (441851) | about 10 years ago | (#9954562)


Here's something that's always bugged me: do a standard install (say, w2k) then play with it for 10 minutes (check webmail, draw a picture in paint, whatever, maybe reboot it a few times). Revel in the responsiveness, boot time, etc. Now install SP4 and all the other patches. W-h-a-t- -h-a-p-p-e-n-e-d- -t-o- -m-y- -c-o-m-p-u-t-e-r-?! Now it's slow as mud. Those pesky patches sure do muck something up.

Microsoft has an official (and overly complicated) procedure for integrating the service pack installations into the base windows install.

Assuming that you've tried it...does affect the molasses-factor?

(Of course, the cynic in me knows that those patches deliberately slow your system down so you'll be inclined to upgrade sooner.)

Re:Reinstall (1)

CyberVenom (697959) | about 10 years ago | (#9954842)

As you guessed, I haven't had time to play with this feature. (I only found the article a couple of days ago and haven't reinstalled anything windows since)
I would guess that they wouldn't affect the molasses factor, but I may be wrong if it eliminates some of the registry clutter that otherwise accompanies the SP4 install. (And, yes, I have noticed that the SP4 install slows the computer to the point of making XP look fast. Coincidence? I don't know, but I wish I could get "Windows 2000 Second Edition". If they could clean it up and integrate the service pack fixes, it would be a very appealing product. (And no, XP is not 2kSE, I'm talking about something that only fixes problems, not that adds new features.)

Re:Reinstall (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9954823)

The instructions you mention (and inadequately link to by not using anchor tags, curse you and that inserted space) are not the most efficient way to add the service pack to your install.

For XP SP2, you only need to do this:
Copy the I386 folder to your C: drive, unpack the SP2 file using Winzip to a directory called SP2, and then:
CD SP2\update
update.exe /integrate:C:\I386.

Voila, when you install from this I386 directory, the necessary files will already be the SP2 versions. I did this yesterday, and did a clean install - Service Pack 2, no rebooting, no patches found on Windows Update. It also helps if you read up on the unattended install files and do a bit of setup with driver files - after a vanilla XP install, I need to install video drivers, motherboard updates, sound card drivers and a network card driver. Now they're all ready to go at startup, and my desktop even has the right resolution.

Now if I just get it to disable all those unnecessary services, tweak the options, and silently install my favourite apps, I could reinstall every week!

Re:Reinstall (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9955637)

Is this process the same for W2K?

Re:Reinstall (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9957360)

I believe so, but the bloody command line switches seem to change with every service pack. XP SP1 didn't use /integrate (I think it used a single letter, like /u). Poster below also mentions you can use the original EXE with /integrate, but the reason I unpack it first is because this wrapper EXE won't display the parameters, but the unpacked update.exe will with /?

Re:Reinstall (2, Informative)

Bachus9000 (765935) | about 10 years ago | (#9955849)

First of all, you don't even need to extract the service pack from the windows xp KBblah.exe file. Just run $SP2_filename.exe /integrate:c:\i386 (note the lack of spaces between integrate, the :, and the C). As for registry tweaks, applications, etc, I highly suggest checking out this site [] and its accompanying forum. You also might want to look into Nlite [] , a (beta) tool that can remove those nasty things such as WMP, MSN Explorer, etc from your win2000/XP/2003 installation source so they never get installed in the first place.

Re:Reinstall (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9958486)

Is there a list of member sites? I found this page [] , but it is incomplete. I didn't find anything at [] .


Hot Vixen (1)

Sensible Clod (771142) | about 10 years ago | (#9955820)

imagine not having to install

I dunno, I try not to uninstall her in the first place. It's hard making up again...

Slashdot != Google (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9954739)

Slashdot != Google

Ahh, i love my win98 (1)

hurfy (735314) | about 10 years ago | (#9954829)

All the update files are sitting in the folder: Windows Update Files One of them being the file: This folder is safe to delete.txt Remember the good old days when things were simple, hehe right. As to the actual question i can only guess Yes :)

Re:Ahh, i love my win98 (1)

questionlp (58365) | about 10 years ago | (#9955117)

That isn't the same thing as the folder in question. Under Windows NT/2000/XP/2003, there are folders that are in the OS directory that contain backup copies of the files that are replaced (and registry keys if necessary) by an update.

The folder that you describe contain the updates that are downloaded and installed from. Not the same thing. The newer versions of Windows has a folder called WUTemp or something to that effect that mimic the "Windows Update Files" directory.

It would be safer (-1, Redundant)

mattboston (537016) | about 10 years ago | (#9955013)

to just delete c:\ and install Linux.

Someone had to say it.

fresh install (1, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | about 10 years ago | (#9955221)

Face it, Windows is at its best with a fresh install. You know you'll have to sooner or later. So do it now -- back up critical things (burn them, email them, whatever) and wipe your hard drive. Install everything from scratch, update windows to latest SP, and get rid of all Windows Update files -- if something breaks in the next 5 minutes and you wished you could "restore" a previous SP -- just reinstall!

Re:fresh install (1)

Stevyn (691306) | about 10 years ago | (#9972324)

While people may balk at this idea, linux users seem to do more it more often. When a new mandrake or fedora comes out, people are happy to update. And rightly so. It's not that much effort to backup your data to various central locations. I myself use an external firewire hard drive (laptop) that holds all of my important data. The hard drive on the laptop could die tomorrow (it has twice) and it wouldn't mean I lost much.

Reinstalling your operating system once a year is good computer maintaince. Installing and uninstalling software creates a lot of junk. As long as you plan ahead with proper backups, you'll be fine.

Re:fresh install (1)

kormoc (122955) | about 10 years ago | (#10020954)

My gentoo install is over two years old and running like a champ, I don't reinstall every time a new gentoo version comes out cause I'm already updated. The joys of a real distro.

Re:fresh install (1)

bedessen (411686) | about 10 years ago | (#9998679)

Why in god's name was this modded insightful? If anything, he was being facetious. "Just reinstall it" is the cry of the ignorant, the equivalent of throwing your arms up in the air when something happens rather than fixing it. I can't fathom why people do this. Take some time and learn something about your system and you wouldn't be stuck wiping your hard drive every two months.

Besides, in this context it's totally wrong. Reinstalling windows will not remove all the hotfix uninstall directories, unless you were not to run Windows Update after the new install. You could achieve the same effect by simply uninstalling all of the fixes. In either case you'd be running a terribly vulnerable system. If installing a service pack does indeed remove the files then just do that, don't bother reinstalling everything.

Safe? Windows? (-1, Redundant)

TheWanderingHermit (513872) | about 10 years ago | (#9955223)

is it safe to just delete those ugly hidden directories from the Windows directory

I'm still trying to wrap my head around a sentence that includes both "safe" and "Windows" in the same sentence.

It's alot safer than a lot of things you can do in Windows (like, say, using Outlock Express, Outlock, Word, Internet Explorer, or even booting and connecting to the Internet).

Re:Safe? Windows? (1)

mhesseltine (541806) | about 10 years ago | (#9955489)

It's alot safer than a lot of things you can do in Windows (like, say, using Outlock Express, Outlock, Word, Internet Explorer, or even booting and connecting to the Internet).

You know, if you're going to troll and use the term "Outlock" for Outlook, you should also call the browser "Internet Exploder", not "Internet Explorer".

And, of course, "alot" is actually two words; a lot

Use NTFS file compression (1)

Gary Destruction (683101) | about 10 years ago | (#9955684)

Use NTFS file compression on them to save space in case you need them at a later time. Chances are, if SP2 didn't delete them, then it didn't contain those fixes or you chose to archive your older files in case you wanted to uninstall SP2.

Re:Use NTFS file compression (1)

Ravadill (589248) | about 10 years ago | (#9957341)

Microsoft is one step ahead, the hotfix uninstall and servicepack archive directories have NTFS compression enabled automatically if the drive is NTFS.

Cliff: Mod yourself as -99 (Troll Feeder) (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9955790)

Cliff, you are a moron!

Too cheap to worry about (1)

storem (117912) | about 10 years ago | (#9956148)

In Europe (Belgium) a 200 GB ATA133 drive costs you about 125 ($150). That's about 31 cents ($0.38) for the Windows updates.

Do you have really that much time to bother about something which costs less then 50 cents?

Cheap, but not that cheap - still way under $5 (1)

davidwr (791652) | about 10 years ago | (#9960289)

You make a very good point, which is why I just let NTFS compress 'em and forget about them.

After SP2, my size balloned to just over 200MB compressed, so that's $1.50. A far cry from $0.38, but still not worth messing with in most cases.

One good reason to delete them:
If you need to free up space on your Windows install partition and you don't have anything else that can be easily moved. Say, right before installing SP2 :).

It's safe to remove them... (1)

antdude (79039) | about 10 years ago | (#9956364)

Just delete those $NTuninstall and $ntservicepacks if you think you will never need to uninstall those stuff. I usually nuke them after having no problems after a month of testing those hot fixes/SPs.

Then, go to Add/Remove and click on remove for those hot fixes. Windows will ask you to delete these off the list since it cannot find the files/folders to restore.

Re:It's safe to remove them... (1)

exhilaration (587191) | about 10 years ago | (#9957974)

Where are these directories? Most of the Google links from the first post were for XP, I'm running 2000.

Re:It's safe to remove them... (1)

antdude (79039) | about 10 years ago | (#9958763)

Should be in c:\winnt\ or whatever your Windows 2000 folder/directory is.

Re:It's safe to remove them... (1)

exhilaration (587191) | about 10 years ago | (#9958950)

Just freed up 266 MB. Thanks!!!!!!

System Restore (1)

bjb (3050) | about 10 years ago | (#9957403)

Isn't this the point of the System Restore slider?

Start->Control Panel->System::System Restore tab.

This slider controls how much space will be kept for restore points. Hot fixes get included in this, and I imagine that the service pack must as well? I can't say from personal experience, because I haven't installed a service pack on XP yet (plenty 'o hot fixes, though).

Re:System Restore (1)

graphicartist82 (462767) | about 10 years ago | (#9960411)

Isn't this the point of the System Restore slider?

No, that is for system restore points. That's something on top of the normal bloat :) The backup files are stored in %windir% are for removing service packs/patches. The system restore points can be made at any time you choose and can back out any changes you make.

Source Bunnies.. (0, Offtopic)

Dx2 (650708) | about 10 years ago | (#9960492)

Format hard drive....install linux....then get the linux babes to play around with your source.

Re:Source Bunnies.. (1)

Frozen-Solid (569348) | about 10 years ago | (#9964126)

Can't photoshop on lappy with linux, only reason I stick with windows on the laptop. Sure I can use gimp, but it's just not the same :P

Re:Source Bunnies.. (1)

Dx2 (650708) | about 10 years ago | (#9965169)

Yes...that is exactly the same reason why I keep this window's box around. That and games....but I really do not like gimp. @home in photoshop.

Re:Source Bunnies.. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9967986)

Crossover Office...40 dollar purchase, lets you run Photoshop 7.0 on Linux perfectly fine, along with Office XP, Dreamweaver, Flash and multiple other programs. Photoshop really isnt a reason to keep windows around anymore :)
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