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Today I had to update Microsoft Office yet again. Most smaller applications would update by replacing themselves with the new version, but this doesn't seem to be the case with operation systems and larger softwares. Do these updates take up more and more space??

To make the question more specific: when running the update package of Microsoft Office, a message would usually pop up and say something like "...will take 300MB of your disk space". Since this happens just about every time, I have always wondered whether this means more space being used with each update. I'm running Mac OS X.

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closed as not constructive by ChrisF, techie007, Dave M, Karan, Dennis Feb 2 '13 at 20:44

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On Windows, and presumably there's an equivalent for OS X, there is a feature called Transactional NTFS that allows you to atomically commit changes to a set of files. At the end of this process, no more or less disk space is used than necessary, but I the middle it requires more disk space for both sets of files (old and new). –  ta.speot.is Feb 2 '13 at 22:56
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4 Answers

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Most likely the application keeps the older version of itself in case something goes wrong and you have to restore the old version. The more important the program is the more likely the developer will add this functionality. Those versions are usually stored in the temp directory.

Now, how much space those backups will take, really depends on the developer of the program. Usually the programs keep an older version, maybe two. But it's really insane to make a program filling the HDD with junk older versions of itself.

So, the answer to Microsoft's case is, unless a bug exists, the program won't take infinite amount of space. At one point or another it will stop taking more space. You can try erasing all the content of the temp directories by using the windows build-in program: "Disk Cleanup". It's pretty easy and pretty useful too.

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Honestly, it depends on the update. I recall Vista's SP1 update actually increasing the free space on some of our workstations. However, some updates only replace files, some updates add files for new functionality, and some updates do both.

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Windows Updates, as well as other software updates, can do many different things. They can fix bugs, add new functionality, or even remove outdated functionality.

When adding new features, more than likely file sizes will increase. However, unless its a big release with lots of new functionality, file sized generally dont grow very much.

But when it comes to Microsoft Updates, when you download a patch, the patch is stored on your computer. Lets use Office as an example and you only did a standard install. That means there were options that were not installed. If you choose to go back and install the missing features, the patches to those missing features can be applied. Also, if you choose to uninstall a patch, the old data needs to be there to be restored.

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Theoretically yes.
Some software in an update process, replace its current version with the new version excluding common libraries and saved all previews versions. This mechanism is offered to provide backwards compatibility to the documents format used. So in order to have a reliable mechanism legacy.

Theoretically no.
Other softwares that do not need to keep any compatibility mechanism, choose a replacement for a full version and its libraries, leaving the end user with the ability to choose which version of software to work and when to make the change between versions, although this mechanism seems to be lighter is also subjected to increasing its size to add functionality. although more lightweight in comparison to the first case of software.

Theoretically yes~no.
Some software may have a hybrid mechanism to choose the first option or the second option, according to update typology they are doing.

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