Windows 7 - What's Safe to Delete to Free Up Space on C: Drive?

Asked By Steve1A on 14-Sep-08 03:55 PM
I need to make space on my C: drive, and am not interested at this point in
moving Win XP to my D: drive. What can I safely delete from the WINDOWS and
WINNT folders?

After installation of WinXP, endless Win updates, and many IE7 Updates --
there are HUGE files now listed in:  Windows\Installer, Windows\IE7Updates,
Windows\$NTUninstall . . .,Windows\Assembly\NativeImages.

My lord! What can I safely get rid of?

JS replied on 14-Sep-08 04:15 PM
First use Windows 'Disk Cleanup' to create more space on your C: drive.
Description of the Disk Cleanup Tool in Windows XP:

Next: Empty the Recycle Bin.

You can also free up more disk space by reducing
the number of 'System Restore' points:
Select Start/Control Panel/System, then in the System Properties window
click on the System Restore tab.
Next select the drive letter where Windows is installed (usually C:),
Then click on the Setting button
Now in the Drive Settings window move the Disk space usage slider to the
left to reduce the amount of drive space System Restore points will use.
This will remove some of the older restore points and free up some space.

Disable Hibernation and delete hiberfil.sys file (If you have it enabled):

If you are using IE7 and then installed SP3 read the info below.
IE7 users will find the folders listed below on their hard drive:
They are needed to uninstall IE7. However, if you installed IE7 and
then installed XP SP3 you can no longer uninstall IE7 and these
folders can also be deleted.

Note: The recommended procedure before installing XP SP3 is to
uninstall IE7, then install XP SP3. Now you still have the ability to
install and uninstall IE7.

Next if you still need more space:
Remove the files used to uninstall updates to Windows
These folders and associated files in these folders are safe to remove,
however once deleted you will no longer be able to un-install a patch or
update that was associated with the deleted folder/files.
I would keep the most recent set (last two months just in case) of folders
and delete the older updates.
As a safety net I burned these folders to a CD before deleting them.
These files are located in the Windows folder and have folder names
like $NtUninstallKBXXXXXX$.
They are hidden folders so enable viewing of hidden files in Windows
Warning: One folder you should not delete is: $hf_mig$
Also See the following web pages on this issue:

You can reduce the size of the Internet Explorer Disk Cache:
How and Why to Clear Your Cache:
Just follow the instructs but instead of increasing the size (as stated in
the article) decrease it.

Finally: Check the Recycle Bin one more time and empty it
if necessary as some of those files you deleted in the steps
mentioned above may find there way into the recycle bin.

If you have more than one partition or drive then:
How to Change the Default Location of Mail and News Folders:

Change the Default Location of the My Documents Folder
(Example: move it to the D drive)

How to move the Spool folder in Windows XP;en-us;Q308666

Can I move or delete my C:\I386 directory to free up some space?
Note: C:\i386 is not to be confused with the
C:\Windows\ServicePackFiles\i386 folder which should not
be moved or deleted as Windows File Protection needs those files

PA Bear [MS MVP] replied on 14-Sep-08 04:16 PM
Is WinXP SP3 installed yet?

Have you run Disk Cleanup recently?
~Robear Dyer (PA Bear)
MS MVP-IE, Mail, Security, Windows Desktop Experience - since 2002
AumHa VSOP & Admin
Steve1 replied on 14-Sep-08 05:02 PM
Thanks for stepping me through this.

I regularly use Disk Cleanup and empty the Recycle Bin. And, I have the IE
Disk Cache on my D drive, along with OE mail and news folders. But
eliminating some of the other stuff you discuss is most helpful.

I have already installed SP3, but I don't remember uninstalling IE 7 first
unless I was instructed to do so during the SP3 installation. Would it have
been a standard step during SP3 installation?
JS replied on 14-Sep-08 05:28 PM
No, SP3 does not in itself AFAK warn that IE7 is installed.
So if you have IE 7 installed and then install SP3 your
stuck with IE7.

If that is the case the you can remove these two folder:

Steve1 replied on 14-Sep-08 05:59 PM
Ignore my questions about SP3/IE& installations. It turns out that
are so small (.6 MB each) that I'll just leave them where they are in case I
ever need to uninstall IE7.

Your other recommendations were quite helpful.  I managed to reclaim about
.7 GB of space. BTW, I did not delete the older $NtService... files -- just
simply moved them over to my D: drive. Thanks again.
Jim replied on 14-Sep-08 06:03 PM
Most people just copy the ntunistall folders to a cd or dvd.  Hopefully, you
will never need to uninstall the specified updates.
JS replied on 14-Sep-08 07:03 PM
You're welcome.

Anthony Buckland replied on 14-Sep-08 07:30 PM
Do I read that correctly, 0.7 Gby?   If saving a mere 700 Mby
of space is an important issue, why not get a (much) bigger
drive?  You can chew through 700 Mby loading the pictures
from one short vacation (and I've come quite close).

If it's really 7.0 Gby, OTOH, ok, that's a significant saving.
Patrick Keenan replied on 14-Sep-08 11:04 PM
First, download and run ccleaner from   Look for the

Install it and let it analyse.   This will tell you how much space is used
by unneeded files,  very few of which will be in the Windows folder
structures.   Note that if you let it remove cookies in the "cleanup" phase,
it will likely remove any stored information you have for thinks like bank
cards and site passwords.

The first time this runs, it's not unusual for it to find over a gigabyte of
files that the Windows tools leave behind.

However, if this amount of space makes a difference to you, you should
consider upgrading the drive to something significantly larger.    This is
fortunately easy to do and not expensive - where I am, half-terabyte SATA
desktop drives are around CDN$70, one-terabyte drives are about CDN$160.

You just need a way to connect the drive to your system (such as a USB2
drive case, starting around $25) and some cloning software, such as the
Acronis TrueImage free trial.

Run this in Manual mode, so that you get the option to do a proportional
clone, meaning that the partition sizes  will be expanded to the size
available on the new disk.

You'll be done in a couple of hours, most of which will be spent doing
something else.   When the cloning is done, simply remove your old disk and
install the new one exactly as the old one was in terms of cabling and any
jumper settings.    The only difference you should notice is that you now
have more than enough space.

Terry R. replied on 15-Sep-08 10:03 AM
The date and time was 9/14/2008 2:02 PM, and on a whim, Steve1A pounded
out on the keyboard:

Hi Steve,

You CAN remove IE7, but you have to uninstall SP3 first.  I had to
perform that task on a couple workstations and it didn't take that long.

One thing I did do.  I noticed that SP3 doesn't remove a lot of the
older update folders like SP2 did.  So after uninstalling SP3, I removed
all the updates via Add/Remove Programs, removed IE7, and then
reinstalled SP3.  Then ran Microsoft Update.

Terry R.

***Reply Note***
Anti-spam measures are included in my email address.
Delete NOSPAM from the email address after clicking Reply.