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Windows Operating Systems Software

Deleting Old Windows Update Uninstall Files? 61

Posted by Cliff
from the reclaiming-much-needed-hard-disk-space dept.
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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Deleting Old Windows Update Uninstall Files?

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    • 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.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 12, 2004 @10:51PM (#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?
        • 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
    • He put it there in the first place!
  • safest way.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stonebeat.org (562495) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @07:41PM (#9954062) Homepage
    Copy the backup the files on CD (700 MB) and delete them.
  • Uninstall (Score:3, Informative)

    by Konster (252488) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @07:41PM (#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 :)

    • by JVert (578547)
      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.
  • by GuyMannDude (574364) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @07:45PM (#9954093) Journal

    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!

    GMD

  • 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: (Score:2, Informative)

    by pio!pio! (170895)
    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
  • 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/Re
    • 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.

    • Interesting....

      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 ser
      • 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"
    • Re:Reinstall (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 12, 2004 @09:30PM (#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 (Score:2, Informative)

        by Bachus9000 (765935)
        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 [msfn.org] and its accompanying forum. You also might want to look into Nlite [msfn.org], 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 instal
    • imagine not having to install

      I dunno, I try not to uninstall her in the first place. It's hard making up again...
  • 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 :)
    • 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.
  • fresh install (Score:2, Insightful)

    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!
    • 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. In
      • 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.
    • 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, unle
  • 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.
  • 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?

    • 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 :).
  • 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.
  • 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).

    • 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.

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