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What are the $NTUninstall folders? Can they be deleted?

Published: Jan  31, 2004
Updated  : Oct 30, 2007
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"$NTUninstall.." folders - Introduction

These $NTUninstall folders are created when you install a Microsoft Service Pack, a hotfix, or certain security updates. Each KBnnnnnn represents an update from Microsoft. To gather more information about an update, type the following URL in your browser, replacing the string nnnnnn with the actual numbers. Don't include the prefixes Q or KB

http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=nnnnnn

These folders contain the uninstall information for each Microsoft update you install. That means that you will be unable to uninstall the updates if you delete these folders. You may leave them there unless you need hard drive space. If your system is stable, and if you no longer plan to uninstall an update, then go ahead and remove the corresponding $NtUninstall... folders. Or you may move those folders to a different hard drive, or burn them to CD before deleting them from the hard drive.

Do NOT delete the $hf_mig$ folder anyway!

Also note that programs such as Windows Desktop Search store the uninstall information in one of those $NtUninstall... folders. As said earlier, if you plan to remove the uninstall folders, burn then to a CD first in case you need them at a later stage.

Removing the entries from Add/Remove Programs applet

You will also see the corresponding Uninstall entries in Add or Remove Programs listing. There are two ways to remove the entries:

Method 1: Letting Add or Remove Programs do the cleanup automatically

After deleting the $NtUninstall.... folder for an update, open Add or Remove Programs applet and then attempt to uninstall the update. Add or Remove Programs then realizes that the backup files (or the uninstall files) have already been removed, and prompts the user with a dialog similar to the following:

An error occurred while trying to remove Security Update for Windows XP (KB899589). It may have already been uninstalled.

Would you like to remove Security Update for Windows XP (KB899589) from the Add or Remove programs list?

Click Yes to remove the entry from Add or Remove Programs list automatically.

Method 2: Manually removing the entries from Add or Remove Programs

  • Click Start, Run and type regedit.exe
  • Navigate to the the following key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ Software\ Microsoft\ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Uninstall

  • Backup the branch by exporting to a file.
  • Select the appropriate sub-key (denoted by the update ID) and delete the key.
  • Close Registry Editor.

"Show Updates" option included in Windows XP Service Pack 2

In Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), the user is able to choose whether to show or hide updates for Windows and other programs in this view. A new Show updates check box appears above the list, which enables the user to toggle between showing or hiding installed updates. For more information on this feature, see section Filtering out updates from the Change or Remove Programs list in the following article:

Changes to Functionality in Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2

Compress the folders to save disk space

This tip is from Gerry Cornell, a Microsoft MVP.

If your hard drive is formatted as NTFS another potential gain arises with your operating system on your C drive. In the Windows Directory of your C partition you will have some Uninstall folders in your Windows folder typically: $NtServicePackUninstall$ and $NtUninstallKB282010$ etc.

These files may be compressed or not compressed. If compressed the text of the folder name appears in blue characters. If not compressed you can compress them. Right click on each folder and select Properties, General, Advanced and check the box before Compress contents to save Disk Space. On the General Tab you can see the amount gained by deducting the size on disk from the size. Folder compression is only an option on a NTFS formatted drive / partition.

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