Can I delete the contents of Windows NtUninstall?
Downloading and installing Windows updates results in NtUninstall folders being placed in the Windows Directory, pertinent to each download. Do these folders need to be maintained and if so for how long? Over time, these folders accumulate to occupy a significant wad of disk space. If they can be deleted i.e. there are no problems resulting from the update, what is the recommended procedure? Will the deletions have any detrimental effects in on-going operations?
Hmmm... I never knew that 'wads' was a unit of disk space, actually. :-)
More seriously, the files contained within the NtUninstall folder tells your computer how to uninstall the a Windows update that you have downloaded and installed. Each folder has a specific name ending in the name of a particular Windows update.
If you were to go to add/remove programs and select a Windows update to uninstall, the information on how to run this process would come from the corresponding $Ntuninstall folder.
Some of these files are also related to what Microsoft refers to as "hotfixes" and they can be removed if you aren't planning on rolling back from a hotfix, though it's not entirely obvious which update is which.
Fortunately, a smart programmer named Doug Knox has prepared a utility that will assist in removing those files if you so desire. It has the surprisingly intuitive name of XP Remove Hotfix Backup. The utility won't remove all the files in your NtUninstall folder, but it will let you easily remove the ones related to hotfixes.
To summarize, you can delete these folders, just as long as you are sure as you don't want to uninstall that particular Windows update. Your best bet would be to keep them, but if your are desperate for hard disk space wait for a week or two to insure that the updates you have installed are running fine, and then you can delete the corresponding NtUnistall folder safely.
Hope that helps you reclaim "wads" of disk space!
Thanks to Ed Ellis and Tommy Martin for their help on this.
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Reader Comments To Date: 21
Basically I agree with your answer on this. However, to be still able to do an uninstall of any fix, I developed a batch procedure (in combination with 2 handy free tools) to backup all files and directories regarding the update, onto another medium (ie. CD-R), AND to make the necessary registry settings to point to this new device. Thus keeping the uninstall functionality still available while freeing a LOT of diskspace. If there is a way to upload this batchfile, tell me so and I'll send all files necessary.
BTW: Some minor changes may be necessary to make it "fool-proof".
Just remember this:
Removing Windows software updates in the wrong order may cause the operating system to stop functioning - see KB823836
This also has a neat cmd script to list all the updates in the order they were installed.
Can anyone tell me how to remove the "Uninstall folders" that are created under C:\winnt folder while installing the Updates/Hotfixes. This is required as i wont be doing any rollback. So i just need to remove those directories or is it possible if we can truncate all the files in these directories (this is as good as deleting-- i Know that)to zeor bytes.
What do you say any hints how to do this...
Pls let me know
When I make changes using Windows explorer ( as opposed to IE)
eg change folder names or move files etc..
The changes dont appear unless I hit F5 and refresh my screen.
how can I rectify this?
A highly technical term indicating the amount of drive space wasted by unnecessary files in the WINNT directory. Value of said term is obtained by multiplying the number of uninstallation files more than 3 months old by the average size of each file. In my case 1 WAD is equal to 159MB. 1000 WADS equals 1 GW (gigawad)
1000 GW equals 1 TW (terrawad) etc.
NOTE: the individual value of your particular wad is easily obtainable by checking the size of the contents of your recycle bin just before emptying it.
I thought everybody knew this. :-)
Glad to see sites like yours Dave, good job too, I've bounced off your site several times in search of some of those elusive answers for some of my questions and your post are very helpful. In regard to the post I read at your site regarding deleting $NTuninstall files after updating.
I just reinstalled XP Pro and SP1 and SP2 and did all the updates that come with it. Ok I know I can uninstall the $NTuninstall files safely, I didn't know about it being ok to delete the software distribution\download files. (mines got 894 mb in it). thanks. Nows here's my real question...Can I delete the hundred or so files that start with KB ? Mine got to be eating up a fat gigawad or more of my hard drive. :)
I appreciate your time and advice ?
"Fortunately, a smart programmer named Doung Knox "
Isn't Doug Knox?
You're absolutely right! Fixed!!
Since moving to IE 7.0, I have been experiencing the sudden popup box stating Application would not initialize with an OCX plus bunch of numbers message. I notice it everytime I bring up Yahoo! to read email, but using Mozilla Firefox, this does ot happen & Yahoo! works fine.
Any suggestions on how to fix ? I use both browsers ( Mozilla & IE 7.3 ).
Can I deleted files in the windows\SoftwareDistrobution\Download folders without any immediate and long term issues on the a server. As per previous posts there was a mentioned tool to re-locate the %NTUNINSTALL% folders and repoint them the CD Media for instance where can this be found. And lastly can you change the default location for any current and future uninstall files like the data volume of a system ?
Thanks in advance.
Is there a way to delete these $NtUninstallKB937143$ folder remotely?
I have lots of client pc's and It would not be productive if I go to each unit and delete these files from each pc.
Maybe a command in the login script, but is it posible? Thank you very much for you help
JP: KB823836 refers to removing Software Updates (i.e backing them out), not to deleting the uninstall folders.
i want to know if you can delete the updates for windows xp back in 2005 or 2006 without doing harm to the computer
These folders contain the uninstall information for each Microsoft update you install. That means that you will be unable to uninstall the updates if you delete these folders. You may leave them there unless you need hard drive space. If your system is stable, and if you no longer plan to uninstall an update, then go ahead and remove the corresponding $NtUninstall... folders. Or you may move those folders to a different hard drive, or burn them to CD before deleting them from the hard drive.
Do NOT delete the $hf_mig$ folder anyway!
Also note that programs such as Windows Desktop Search store the uninstall information in one of those $NtUninstall... folders. As said earlier, if you plan to remove the uninstall folders, burn then to a CD first in case you need them at a later stage.
All talk about deleting.
But what about just moving it to external hdd and move it back when you need them?
Thanks a lot for the information. I was able to clear approximately 3 wads of space (600 MB) because of this.
xwkj: seems to be not a problem at all. Appropiate registry entries will, after all, stay behind if you do not use the remove hotfix utility linked to.
JP: no hotfixes are removed, just the uninstallation utililities for said hotfixes are.
Assuming my BIOS will accommodate a boot from a USB flash drive, is there a "mirror image" utility that will image my Windows XP "C" drive on to a flash device that will be in a bootable format?
Thanks a whole lot, Bill
Hi Dave, as most here, my laptop suffers from lack of free space and need to remove a fair bit of clutter, if I remove the "uninstall files" and the pertinent "KB" files, in the hopefully unlikely event that I need to start form zero, will I still be able to do so with the recovery disk without the deletion of the above named files having any adverse effect?
As 'me' mentioned above, do NOT delete $hf_mig$ folder...
Dave, maybe you should update your article...
good info and thanx much...
a friend warned me about not deleting the migration folder, he said he had learned the hard way - i wonder how he figured out which deletion caused the crash?
which leads me to my question - what about the folders on the root of c:\ with the long, apparently random strings of letters and numbers ?
i know one of them was the the .net installs, which i seem to have removed with no ill effects, but the other one looks suspiciously like windows installs...
there's a subfolder i386, and then under that a whole slew of windows setup-looking stuff, like win9xmig, win9xupg, ntupgd, etc
what do you think, or what do you know ?
ps - "slew" = 1/4 to 1/2 of a "wad" :)
I USE THE XP Remove Hotfix Backup OF DOUG KNOX it remove succesfully all %NTUNINSTALL% folders and give me at least more than 1GB free, Tousands of Thanks
I do have a lot to say, and questions of my own for that matter, but first I'd like to say thank you, Dave, for all your helpful information by
buying you a cup of coffee!||
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