NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, January 2007
Free Up Megabytes of Disk Space
by Vinny La Bash,
member of the Sarasota Personal Computer Users Group, Inc., Florida

vlabash@comcast.net (click to email author)

"These folders could be the culprits that are chewing up valuable storage area."

Look in your Windows folder and count how many folders you have that start with ď$NtUninstall". They are all related to various patches, updates and service packs for XP. Those $NtUninstall folders are created when you install a Microsoft Service Pack, a hot fix, or certain security updates. Some of these folders could date back almost to the day you first installed your computer.

Their names are in blue, and they are all marked as hidden and read only. If you donít see them in the Windows folder, open the Tools menu, and select Folder Options from the drop down menu. After the Folder Options dialog box appears, activate the View tab, then left-click the Show hidden files and folders radio button. Click OK to close the dialog box and the hidden folders should appear. If nothing happens close down Windows Explorer and restart it. You donít need to restart your computer; simply open Windows Explorer again.

Why should you do this? If youíre getting low on disk space and the usual remedies havenít freed up enough space, these folders could be the culprits that are chewing up valuable storage area. If you have had Windows installed for more than a year and you are conscientious about keeping your system up-to-date, these useless folders are probably tying up gigabytes of data. Enough of them can have the unfortunate side effect of noticeably slowing down virus and spyware scans. It also takes longer to defrag your disk drive. An accumulation of unnecessary or extraneous data on your system will eventually affect system performance and in extreme cases cause drive errors.

The files within the $NtUninstall folder provide instructions on how your computer uninstalls a Windows update. Each folder has a specific name ending in the name of a particular Windows modification. If you were to go to add/remove programs and select a Windows update to uninstall, the information on how to run this process would come from the corresponding $Ntuninstall folder.

You can safely delete all these folders if you have no plans to uninstall any of the related patches. As updates and patches accumulate, these types of folders will continue to grow and take more disk space.

One solution is to delete only those folders older than three months. Chances are, if you haven't uninstalled a Windows update after three months, you wonít ever do it.

Alternatively, once you've made a backup or disk image of any "$NTUninstall" files, you can delete the files from the hard drive immediately, because you can always restore them from backups, if you need them.

One thing Microsoft should have done is tuck these folders away in a sub-folder someplace so you donít have to scroll through them every time you want to locate something in the Windows folder. Iíve seen machines with over one hundred of these folders. Then again, you could always mark them as hidden.

There is no restriction against any non-profit group using this article as long as it is kept in context with proper credit given the author. The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal Computer User Groups (APCUG), an international organization of which this group is a member, brings this article to you.

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