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There is a new folder full of installers located at C:\ProgramData\Package Cache\. I believe this is from visual studio 2012 RC.

Does anyone know if I can delete these GB of data without consequences. Are they are temporary files? It's a beta product so I'm not sure there is much information out there about this folder.

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I would suggest against anything that's more than 50MB in size, it's used for something. Try moving them to your desktop or something, running it, and if it crashes, move them back. –  Chipperyman Aug 4 '12 at 3:13
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Please change the accepted answer, it's wrong and dangerous. –  Stijn Nov 13 '13 at 9:50
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I can't really test my original scenario but I recall that everything uninstalled fine. Since there are several people saying they have had issues, I've revoked the accepted answer. Keep in mind that I was using 2012 RC. –  Ben L Nov 13 '13 at 23:47
    
@BenL even though I understand when you say "I can't really test my original scenario but I recall that everything uninstalled fine. Since there are several people saying they have had issues, I've revoked the accepted answer." I think my answer below (the most popular one so far) allows anyone, in any case, to work around the issue by moving and pointing the folder to a drive with more space. It will even work with offline media. So, you can simply remount/insert your archive DVD/reconnect your external drive, if that's where you move this too, at the time of uninstall, repairs, etc. –  Flak DiNenno Feb 2 at 15:09
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@FlakDiNenno I like your workaround. But the question is about if it's safe to delete, not if it's safe to mount or offline. –  Ben L Feb 3 at 16:12

7 Answers 7

up vote 75 down vote accepted

UPDATED ANSWER: Do NOT delete this folder

(see below for work-around)


Why Not?

There have been conflicting reports about whether the absence of this folder (as a consequence of deleting it) will actually and in all cases cause issues with the visual studio installation, i.e. during normal operation, during reinstall, patch/upgrade, repair install, or uninstall. However, the recommendation from MICROSOFT is clearly to NOT DELETE IT.

From Microsoft Developer Tools Blogs => HERE

When repairing, modifying, or uninstalling a product or when installing or uninstalling a patch, if source media is required the package cache is used automatically and most users will never see a prompt. Only if the package cache is missing or incomplete will Visual Studio setup prompt to download (if connected) or locate media as shown in the screenshot below.

Visual Studio 2012 Prompt for Source

Users who have installed from media even get the option to download (if connected). So while very few customers should ever see this dialog, we wanted to make sure the experience was easy. Even though we will prompt to download packages to the cache if missing, we recommend users do not remove the package cache. Not only is the cached used by many other products that are installed... there are scenarios when Windows Installer may require source that we cannot handle because our code is not running.


Solution/Work-Around:

If you need to reclaim this space, your safest bet is to avoid "deleting" anything, but to instead, move this folder and all it's files. You can safely do this following the instructions below to any local/live, online, near-line, or offline storage as long as that storage system that can be mounted to a drive letter or any mount point on the NTFS file system. Any of the following will work:

  • another live (mounted) partition
  • an optical disc (CD, DVD, etc.) with a live filesystem like FAT, or NTFS
  • an external hard drive
  • a USB drive
  • a network drive

Whenever you are prompted for the media/receive any errors about missing files/missing location, you simply make sure to remount/reinsert your drive/media if it's not already a live partition.

Once moved, in order to "link" the old mount point/location (in most cases C:\ProgramData\Package Cache\), you simply create a directory junction to it.

Junctions are recognized at the file systemlevel as an alias entry in the FSTAB. Therefore, it's transparent to all programs, including the OS itself. In other words, it is NOT seen as a file that simply points to another location (like a shortcut) and therefore always works without incident.

  1. You would move the folder(s) in question to its new location
  2. Create the junction

    • OPTION1 (natively): Just issue the built-in Windows Vista / 7 / 8 command and the cmd prompt: mklink /J oldpath newpath

      NOTE: If you make the newpath absolute, you'll be able to move link without breaking the pointer to the newpath. If you make the newpath relative, you'll be able prevent breaking the link, as long as you move BOTH the link and target TOGETHER and maintain their relative paths.

    • Option2 (use a tool): Another GREAT alternative is a free handy utility I've been using for years called "Link Shell Extension". LSE is free and you can find it here (or Google for it): http://schinagl.priv.at/nt/hardlinkshellext/hardlinkshellext.html

      LSE allows you to create symlinks, hardlinks, junctions, smartcopies, smartclones, smart mirrors, smart moves, splices, multiple sources, and bunch of other stuff I found to confusing to read, frankly. But, it's a brilliant free product that creates a windows explorer context menu that allows you right-click on your LINK-TARGET folder then drag it to where you'd like to create the actual link. You can of course rename the link to anything you'd like.

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this is great solution. i need to cleanup my SSD c drive by moving files to other drive. many thanks –  marek Aug 15 '13 at 16:34
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+1 This is the right solution –  Petar Vučetin Oct 19 '13 at 16:16
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+1 for Hardlink Shell Extension. Couldn't live without it. –  Dennis G Dec 15 '13 at 12:47
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@BenL even though you "can't really test my original scenario but I recall that everything uninstalled fine. Since there are several people saying they have had issues, I've revoked the accepted answer." I think my answer above allows anyone in any situation to get around the issue in all cases. –  Flak DiNenno Feb 2 at 15:06

I've found the same folder on my laptop after installing VS2012. I tried renaming that folder to '__Package Cache'. When I then tried to uninstall VS2012 the uninstall process failed to start.

More information is available here.

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thanks for the detailed answer and the link –  Beytan Kurt Jan 29 '13 at 10:16

I noticed this folder after I installed Visual Studio 2012, in my case everything in it contained to the Visual Studio 2012 installation, I manually removed it and everything seems to be working including Visual Studio.

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This is the accepted answer and it is wrong. If you delete this folder you won’t be able to uninstall or update Visual Studio (and related tools and redistributables — this will cause security issues if an update to MSVC runtimes comes out) –  kinokijuf Jul 13 '13 at 12:05
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You're wrong, I have without any problem managed to update Visual Studio 2012 with the latest updates. Thanks. –  Johan Svensson Aug 9 '13 at 9:16

The correct answer seems to be that if you delete it, VS 2012 will fail to uninstall, but it is otherwise not needed. Therefore:

  1. You can leave the files there. Everything will work but it will use lots of disk space.
  2. You can delete the files, and if you want to uninstall VS 2012, you can re-run the original installer to put the files back, then uninstall.
  3. You can move the files to another drive with more free space and either:

    a) move the files back when you need them

    b) create a junction as in Flak's suggestion (warning: junctions are tricky beasts, and will lie to Windows Explorer telling you the files take up disk space on C: when they are really on another drive!)

Junctions and symbolic links are the only answer for moving system files to another drive. They are NTFS filesystem-level features that even Windows itself is oblivious to, and thus are a really big hammer (and potential security risk) that should be used sparingly unlike their UNIX/Linux/BSD counterparts, since they have been around a lot longer on that OS family and UNIX/Linux/BSD programs know how to deal with them.

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All the software's installers are saved in this folder. It would fail when you try to uninstall a software after deleting this folder.

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+1 this is the correct answer. –  Mehrdad Jul 4 '13 at 3:32

No. If you delete this folder, you won’t be able to uninstall (and possibly update) Visual Studio.

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Its usually better not to mess up with deleting these files manually, and instead leave this task to either windows disk-cleanup, or other disk cleaning tools. The one I personally use and can recommend you is the ccleaner (http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner).

CCleaner can help you automatically find obsolete files in a program and deletes them for you.

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Be very careful; these programs are by no means foolproof. CCleaner has been known to remove files critical for some programs to run, and some options will remove files kept for uninstallation. –  Bob Nov 16 '12 at 11:53

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