I need to free space on Windows XP SP3.

Q1) What system folders can be safely delete in case I don't need to have restore points etc?

Q2) Can I delete content from C:\WINDOWS\SoftwareDistribution\Download

  • Why didn't it find this question when I was creating mine? superuser.com/questions/53266/… – Radek Feb 5 '12 at 23:18
  • I already deleted all content from 'the directory'. Rebooted the computer and everything looks ok. Updates were turned off for ages. – Radek Feb 6 '12 at 0:48

Q1: That’s a complex and messy question. If you just want to strip XP down to the minimal size, your best bet is to look at what others have done. nLite is a great resource for this.

Q2: Yes, assuming that you have not recently installed any Windows Updates (or made sure to reboot afterwards), then it is safe to delete SoftwareDistribution\Download.

  • Q1) can I use nLite for an existing installation? – Radek Feb 5 '12 at 23:17
  • 1
    No, but you can use the list of folder that are removed in order to determine what to delete. However, be wary that if it is already installed, it may not be as simple as just deleting a folder (there may be references to it in the registry or other files). Depending on what it is, you may need to uninstall stuff (eg Windows Components in Add/Remove Programs) to be safe. MSFN is also a good place to find advice on what is safe. (I recall seeing a discreet list a while back; I’ll post a link if I can find it again.) – Synetech Feb 6 '12 at 0:19

Disclaimer: I'm using Windows 7.

Personally, I wouldn't be touching any system folders. Some tips to free space:

  1. From My Computer, right-click the hard drive and select Properties and press Disk Cleanup. I recommend selecting all options except "Downloaded Program Files".
  2. In C:\ delete any folders that are just a string of hex-digits. These are old installers.
  3. In C:\ delete all files. Any files that were there were from old installers. Note: may not be the case in Windows XP.
  4. Clean out your documents and media files. Are you ever really going to open that file again? Move your media to a secondary or external drive.

Quite frankly, if you're that tight for disk space it's time to invest in a new drive.

  • It’s not always about disk space. – Synetech Feb 6 '12 at 0:19
  • @Synetech, what do you mean? The question states "I need to free space". – Hand-E-Food Feb 6 '12 at 0:24
  • 2
    True. But some people like to strip down Windows regardless of available space. ;-) – Synetech Feb 6 '12 at 0:35

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.