One of our Windows 2003 servers has a fairly small C-partition, which is approaching full. I've had a quick look round using Disktective as to where the space has gone, and a fair bit of it seems to be taken up with C:\WINDOWS\SoftwareDistribution\Download

I think this folder is used as a temporary storage for Windows Update, but as all the pending Windows updates have now been installed, is it OK to delete the contents of this folder?


3 Answers 3


After you have installed all the pending updates, it is safe to delete all the files and folder under C:\WINDOWS\SoftwareDistribution\Download\

As @Zab said, stop the Update Service while you clean up the folder

  1. Enter net stop wuauserv into an elevated command prompt
  2. Manually clean up C:\WINDOWS\SoftwareDistribution\Download\
  3. Enter net start wuauserv into an elevated command prompt
    As soon as the service starts again, some folders will be re-created. This is ok

You should stop "automatic updates" and "windows update" services, then you can delete all downloaded/(and already installed) updates

You can also clean the database folder nearby to "reset" windows update.

Harry reports problem with people who deleted the directories, as opposed to people who deleted files in directory.

  • run "net stop wuauserv" to stop the service and "net start wuauserv" to start it again after deleting the contents of the Download folder
    – rob
    Oct 16, 2014 at 9:05

If I were you I'd run the Microsoft Disk Cleanup wizard and see if it proposes deleting this directory.
If it doesn't do that, then I wouldn't touch it.

  • 4
    Disk cleanup didn't list these files as ones that could be deleted, but so far it seems to have been OK to delete them. Oct 12, 2009 at 8:45
  • Some people reported problems with Windows Update after deleting these files, while others didn't. It depends apparently on what you do.
    – harrymc
    Oct 12, 2009 at 9:20
  • 8
    > Some people reported problems with Windows Update after deleting these files, while others didn't. The difference is in whether they deleted SoftwareDistribution or SoftwareDistribution\Download.
    – Synetech
    Mar 16, 2012 at 19:35

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