Windows Legacy OS forum

General discussion

Can I safely delete windows $ntuninstall*****$ files?

On doing a stockcheck on what is eating up my modest laptop hard drive space, my 'windows' folder is almost 5Gb.

Most of it is taken up with over 140 folders dated in the last two years, all with the name in blue font, and taking the name format of $ntuninstall*****$. (One of the folders is over 360Mb!)

Simple question - can I delete all of them of will my laptop be screwed if I do?

Discussion is locked
You are posting a reply to: Can I safely delete windows $ntuninstall*****$ files?
The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to our CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Track this discussion and email me when there are updates

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

You are reporting the following post: Can I safely delete windows $ntuninstall*****$ files?
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.
Collapse -
Most, but not all.

In reply to: Can I safely delete windows $ntuninstall*****$ files?

Yes you can delete these, they are only backup type folders and files for each Windows Update. If you remove them, you would not be able to uninstall the updates and revert the system back to what it was before the update was installed.

But I would retain the latest two or three folders, and do not delete the $hf_mig$ folder(s).


Collapse -
Thank you....

In reply to: Most, but not all.

Thanks Mark for your authoritative response.

I have now transferred all the files to a CD (just in case!), and gained a substantial amount of hard drive pace back.

As a matter of interest, should windows delete these files automatically at some time, or do they just stay on your PC until manually removed?

Collapse -
Sadly no.

In reply to: Thank you....

Windows doesn't delete them. In fact your question was , "should Windows delete these files", and that is sort of a philosophical question, Happy

There's no mechanism for Windows to do it, but in any case they are there for a reason, to assist a user to return the system to a previous state. But in my view that doesn't really work. If, (for example), I had installed a Windows Update #10 two years ago, and now find I want to uninstall it, I bet I would find it to be practically impossible to do. It is possible that subsequent updates, (for the sake of argument Windows Updates #11 thru #156), have made changes that makes WU #10 redundant, so attempting to undo all of that could cause serious instability problems.

So I don't really see the point of these backup files after a certain time. The problem is, that time is indeterminate, so the argument goes round in circles, as it were.

Since you have found all these folders and files, have you also found the "System Volume Information" folders and files yet? These are further backups, created by "System Restore Points", and these could be big ones. If you have a lot of SR points you could free up a lot of hard disk space by losing them. There's two ways of doing that;

1] Use XP's "Disk Cleanup" tool, (Start > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Cleanup). This checks for compressed files first, which could take a while, then offers you a list of locations where temp files could be deleted. But, there is also a "More options" tab which offers to delete 'all but the latest' restore point, and this may free up a lot of hard disk space.

2] The System Restore switch, turn it off, then back on, which deletes them all. But use this only if your system is otherwise running well, and you do not need the safety of an existing backup point. Right click your My Computer icon, select Properties, then the System Restore tab, and disable System Restore, click Apply, then immediately re-enable. I would then create a brand new System Restore point straight away.

I hope that helps.


Collapse -
Hoorah for windows (not!)

In reply to: Sadly no.

Thanks again Mark for such a comprehensive reply.

Yes, I discovered the issue surrounding System Restore points some time ago when I mysteriously lost nearly 18Gb of hard drive space over time!!

I now search the System Volume Information folder regularly and clear it out of all but the last few restore points. Another strange 'windows' anomaly where it fills your HD with absolute junk, but doesn't by default even let you see this folder's contents!

Isn't MicroSoft just wonderful Happy

Popular Forums

Computer Newbies 10,686 discussions
Computer Help 54,365 discussions
Laptops 21,181 discussions
Networking & Wireless 16,313 discussions
Phones 17,137 discussions
Security 31,287 discussions
TVs & Home Theaters 22,101 discussions
Windows 7 8,164 discussions
Windows 10 2,657 discussions


Best Black Friday Deals

CNET editors are busy culling the list and highlighting what we think are the best deals out there this holiday season.