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How can I free up drive space from the Windows installer folder without killing Windows?

Solutons:


I created “PatchCleaner” to clean the windows installer directory of all orphaned files in one easy click. If you don’t trust the app to do the right thing, use the move feature to put them somewhere safe in case you need them back in the future. I have run it on multiple machines and saved up to 15Gb of space 🙂

Run PatchCleaner after windows updates to find newly orphaned files.

I recommend you use the Move action, and move the orphaned patches to external storage, just to be safe

PatchCleaner @ HomeDev

Known Issues (full details on website)

  • Adobe Reader can fail to update after running PatchCleaner.

NOTE: as @ Feb-2016 version 1.4.1.0 is out that has a fix to allow customisable filters to exclude adobe reader from being incorrectly detected.

This seems to have worked for me. This is a simplified set of instructions from http://www.kavoir.com/2012/07/how-to-free-up-c-drive-disk-space-in-windows-7-easy.html

  • Make sure no installations are running on your machine (there’s probably a formal way to do this, but I’m not sure how).
  • Copy using Windows explorer C:WindowsInstaller to another disk, e.g., D:C_DRIVEWindowsInstaller — note: WindowsInstaller is a system folder and thus invisible in Windows 8.1. You have to tweak your account to make it visible to use Explorer to make the copy. Google will help you find out how to do that.
  • Make a backup copy of C:WindowsInstaller
  • Type the following commands in a cmd.exe window running as Administrator:

    rmdir /s /q C:WindowsInstaller
    mklink /D C:WindowsInstaller D:C_DRIVEWindowsInstaller
    
    • Windows may not let you to delete the installer directory, because some process are using some files within this directory:

      C:WindowsInstaller{some files}.msi - The process cannot access the file because it is being used by another process.
      

      In this case you can use this link and use Process Explorer to find and stop the process which is restricting the rmdir command.

Verification

As a verification, I ran a “repair” of my Microsoft Visio Professional 2013 install (took 4 minutes to process). This completed successfully. Windows update (with reboots) also ran successfully after making the above changes. I will write back if anything doesn’t work.

You can compress the folder. You will regain between 10 and 20% of the space.

  1. Enable “Show system files” in Explorer options
  2. Right-click the installer folder
  3. Properties
  4. Click on Advanced
  5. On the new dialog, select ‘Compress’
  6. Click OK
  7. Apply for all files and folder

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