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Redistributable files may look like they are not being used. But if you delete them, the results are often problematic.

I am running Windows XP SP3 with a dual core AMD 2.0 GH processor. I want to delete unnecessary files. I have four MSXML 4.0 files and one MSXML 6.0 file. Are they all necessary? What about Microsoft Visual C++2008 redistributable X86? There are four of those. In spite of the same names, the files are all a different size. Are any safe to delete?

In this excerpt from Answercast #37, I look at the effects that deleting redistributables and other program files might have on your operating system.

Deleting redistributables

My very strong recommendation is that you do not delete them.

Where are they?

I'm not sure where you're finding them all... if these are just files on your computer somewhere, or if you're finding them in Add/Remove Programs, or what?

The bottom line is that different programs unfortunately will install these things:

  • In different places.

  • At different times.

  • And in different ways.

AND they may all rely on those redistributables being present.

It's risky

Now if you remove one, it may not affect anything. It may affect only a program that you never use or it may affect something that you depend on.

There's simply no way (certainly not with the information provided) to really understand which ones are critical and which ones are not.

If you're looking for disk space, I strongly suggest you look elsewhere.

Side effects

This is unfortunately a bit of a mess, I understand that. But it's also very fragile. It's something that if you go in and try and clean up these individual files, because you think they are duplicates and not necessary, you are very likely going to have a side effect of some sort.

  • I can't predict what it's going to be.

  • But I can tell you that it's probably not something you're gonna want.

Back up first

If you insist on going forward and deleting these things, I would strongly, strongly suggest that you backup your entire machine first. Because when (not if) but when you encounter the side effects that deleting one of these may cause, you're probably going to want to restore your machine.

So, my strongest recommendation is that you look elsewhere for your size and you leave these things be.

Article C5611 - July 21, 2012 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

1 Comment
July 24, 2012 6:50 PM

Usually, when you delete something it goes into the Recycle Bin. (Some suff just disappears.) There it stays for awhile, depending on several factors. If you do delete one of these 'offenders' and havok ensues, go to the Recycle Bin and restore it.

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