On my SSD machine, the C:\Windows\Installer folder is massive and takes up about 15% of my total disk space.

Is there a way to clean up that folder without killing Windows 8.1/10? Tucking away the installers on the OS partition seems wasteful.

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    I had the problem in Windows 8, and the temporary solution was to upgrade to 8.1 (I had 20+ G free up!). But the problem crept up again, with the continual patching of 8.1... This is an annoying problem from Windows since XP. – Fuhrmanator Apr 22 '14 at 21:02
  • Actually, those aren't Windows installers in that folder. It's basically all the stuff that Windows needs to run different programs and code versions. – HopelessN00b Apr 22 '14 at 22:00
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    Are you kidding me? On my machine, this folder alone takes up over 25% of the disk space (20 GB / 80GB) allocated to the boot volume. Win 2008 R2. – Jay Imerman Nov 6 '15 at 15:13
  • Related/Duplicate from 2009, still relevant: Is it safe to delete from C:\Windows\Installer? – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Mar 9 '16 at 4:16
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    You happy guy! On my system the Installer directory takes 50% of the 95 GB HDD. Microsoft is not acting here like the biggest software company in the world! – Al Bundy Aug 10 '17 at 9:03

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:\Windows\Installer to another disk, e.g., D:\C_DRIVE\Windows\Installer -- note: Windows\Installer 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:\Windows\Installer
  • Type the following commands in a cmd.exe window running as Administrator:

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

      C:\Windows\Installer\{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.

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    Wouldn't it be better if you first moved "C:\Windows\Installer" to "D:\C_DRIVE\Windows\Installer" and then ran mklink? – Mladen B. Feb 24 '15 at 11:02
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    @MladenB. Using move (as opposed to copy then a recursive rmdir) might seem better. The original instructions I cited mention that removing the files can be complicated because you might have to take ownership. I've had to do that before in Windows and it's annoying when there are a lot of files. In such cases, the copy will complete successfully the first time, then you just have to make the rmdir work. For C:\Windows\Installer it probably doesn't make a difference, but the cited article speaks of other directories that can be relocated onto a separate drive. – Fuhrmanator May 10 '15 at 11:39
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    It's recommended at least to compress C:\WINDOWS\Installer\$PatchCache$ or the full C:\WINDOWS\Installer folder. The simple step can save really much space on the disk. There are exist many .msp files which are not use cab inside. Such .msp files can be good compressed and one get some disk space for free. I had on my SSD (the only disk on the notebook) 52GB in C:\WINDOWS\Installer folder which will be only 41GB after the simple compression. – Oleg May 18 '15 at 9:07
  • There's an interesting approach discussed here: blogs.msdn.com/b/heaths/archive/2014/02/11/… See some of the comments for other alternatives, including a script that does a lot. – Fuhrmanator May 21 '15 at 20:20
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    @Fuhrmanator With my Windows 7, I had to save and restore the original the permissions afterwards. Before moving: icacls C:\WindowsInstaller /save Installer.acl After moving: icacls D:\C_DRIVE\Windows\Installer /restore Installer.acl. Otherwise installers would not be able to access the directory and report an error 1632. – trapicki Jul 22 '16 at 7:40

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.

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    Magic :-). Windows actually keeps a list of known patches that it needs, that can be accessed via WMI calls. I compare this known list against what is actually in the c:\windows\installer directory and anything in the folder that is not in the list is no longer required. I have successfully run this an updated with the lastest windows updates from a few days ago and they all installed successfully. You will get errors if patchcleaner has done something wrong. I would recommend using the move action until you are happy that the program is doing the right thing. – jcrawfor74 Jun 12 '15 at 10:13
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    Great tool, really liked it, works seamlessly :) – Alex Popov Jul 15 '15 at 8:35
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    Do you think it would be possible to create a portable version of this tool? – RedX Dec 9 '15 at 7:59
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    @jcrawfor74 do you plan to clean the folder C:\ProgramData\Package Cache where the MSI/MSP files are stored which are created with new WIX tools? – magicandre1981 Feb 4 '17 at 9:19
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    @jcrawfor74 You are a great man. The tool just helped me to recover 75 GB of 110 GB total, Windows 7. Thank you. – yakunins Feb 23 at 20:48

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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    best method that is perfectly safe. it reduced my folder by 2gb from 12gb – ExceptionSlayer Jun 14 '15 at 6:14
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    To view C:\Windows\Installer folder, uncheck the Hide protected operating system files option in the folder options. – Mian Asbat Ahmad Dec 21 '15 at 12:54
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    Or just browse directly to it and right-click in the empty space. – bastijn Oct 17 '16 at 12:43
  • I found this answer really useful: after enabling compression my "Installer" folder shrinked from 46.5GB to 38.9GB (the compression process took about 1 hour) – Andrea Dec 28 '16 at 12:00
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    That's COMPACT /C /S:C:\Windows\Installer. – saintali Feb 7 '17 at 21:40

Sometimes $patchcache$ consumes a great deal of "Installer" folder. You can check how big is your "C:\Windows\Installer\$PatchCache$" folder (mine was 6GB after 1.5 years).

Basically it boils down to "If you have original installers, then you could delete it".

rmdir /q /s "C:\WINDOWS\Installer\$PatchCache$" (as admin of course)

read about it: Can I delete the folder "C:\WINDOWS\Installer\$PatchCache$"?

msdn: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/heaths/archive/2007/01/17/the-patch-cache-and-freeing-space.aspx

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    Nice one, I install almost entirely from physical installers, so this was a good 5gb out of my problem! Thanks x3 – chronometric Sep 25 '15 at 14:36

There is no official way to kill it. You can use a link to move it to a HDD if you have one.

You can try a junction by copying the files to the new drive, then renaming the old installer folder temporarily, creating a junction from the default folder to the new. Then test things for a bit before deleting the renamed installer folder. Maybe install a bigger more complex program like visual studio, or adobe Photoshop, then uninstall it just to make sure all is well. But be forewarned, if anything goes wrong, you might not be able to install or re-install programs. Been there, done that. :)

  • @ivan_pozdeev a junction is different than a hard link. I use a small program called junction.exe to make it work from docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/downloads/junction – Damon Oct 12 '17 at 4:41
  • Reciting the comment on the link: WARNING! This wouldn't work in XP. I once tried and made C:\Windows\Installer a junction point, and msiexec broke it and recreated the folder anew. – ivan_pozdeev Oct 12 '17 at 10:01
  • Yes, I'm speaking specifically about a junction. XP doesn't support symbolic links. (The solution on the link speaks about symbolic links, not hard links.) – ivan_pozdeev Oct 12 '17 at 10:12
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    @ivan_pozdeev I have to admit, my memory is foggy now so I will definitely take your word for it! I seem to remember doing this originally on XP though and it working for and extended period of time (yrs). But I'd believe you first! – Damon Oct 12 '17 at 14:51

The best solution is to use Windows Installer CleanUp Utility.

https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/2008.08.utilityspotlight.aspx

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    Welcome to SU and thanks for the contribution. Just a heads up, SU gets a lot of spam, and it typically reads like your answer. It's a safe bet you're not a spammer, given your history on SO, but link-only product recommendations attract downvotes and are usually deleted. Good guidance here on recommending software. – fixer1234 Sep 26 '15 at 23:49
  • Please exercise caution when recommending software. As written, your answer may be seen as spam. Your answer should include a description of the software and how it addresses the question. More information: How do I recommend software in my answers? – bwDraco Sep 27 '15 at 8:09
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    Thanks @fixer1234 @ DragonLord I will practice the recommended tips next time. – hatranpro Sep 28 '15 at 12:53
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    @hatranpro I would like to suggest practicing the recommended tips on this question by editing it. Now. – SandRock Sep 25 '16 at 12:51
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    This utility DOES NOT do what the OP requested. It doesn't "free up space in Windows Installer folder" by deleteing unused files. Instead, it deletes used files and registry metadata. Read its description at technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/… . – ivan_pozdeev Jan 6 '17 at 1:19

How to safely(*) clear disk space on Windows 10(**)

(*) The following steps are generally believed to be safe but I offer no cast-iron guarantees so please use at your own risk.

(**) The instructions were written for Windows 10 but similar instructions may also apply to other versions of Windows.

  1. Run PatchCleaner to delete orphaned files.
  2. Run Disk Cleanup (e.g. by typing "clean" in the Windows start screen and selecting "Free up disk space by deleting unnecessary files"). Select the drive to be cleaned. Click on "Clean up system files" (and enter credentials if required). Select the drive to be cleaned. Select the option to clear system files.
  3. Open Configuration Manager Properties (e.g. by typing "config" in the Windows start screen and selecting "Configuration Manager"). Select the Cache tab. Click on "Configure Settings" (and enter credentials if required). Click on "Delete Files..." Tick the "Delete persisted cache content" checkbox and click on "Yes".
  4. Download and install Treesize Free. Run it, scan the relevant drive and then manually delete any of the larger folders or files that can be deleted (applying the necessary caution).
  5. Open File Explorer and navigate to the Windows temp folder (e.g. C:\Windows\Temp). Select all files and folders and then choose to hard-delete them by pressing SHIFT+DEL (you may be required to enter admin credentials). Then choose to skip all files that cannot be deleted because they are in use.

protected by Community Oct 1 '15 at 7:56

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