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Updates are important for the security of your computer, but removing those files may open you up to malware.

I'm running XP Home and all of its updates in Control Panel 'Add/remove programs' is listing a kazillion MSN XP updates, which I assume is accounting for, who knows, how much space. Can I safely remove all these voluminous programs and increase my overall storage capability or will it totally wipe me out?

In this excerpt from Answercast #15, I look at the space being taken up by update files and the importance of keeping all programs up-to-date.

Removing updates

Well, it's not necessarily going to "wipe you out," but it's not something you're going to want to do either. The updates are there for a reason.

The updates are there to protect you from various flaws found in the older versions that were being updated: most notably, security flaws. If you were to remove many of those updates, what you would find is that your machine has now become vulnerable to malware that is common out on the internet.

It is, in fact, that malware that may in turn wipe you out.

Free up disk space

There are other approaches to dealing the disk space issue. I typically don't recommend removing updates unless you are really tight on space.

The thing I would start you with is a utility called Treesize which is referenced in an article I have called "Where is my disk space going?," or a related article to that.

Using that utility, you can see what's taking the most disk space on your hard drive, then go for the low-hanging fruit. Find out what's taking up large amounts of space and see if those things are optional or are things that can be cleaned up.

Certainly, using a utility like CCleaner is another approach that can often clean up a lot of unused, unnecessary, temporary, and other files.

Removing uninstall folders

I do have an article about "Can these NT uninstalled folders be removed?" That is the correct approach to saving or freeing the disk space that's associated with these updates.

The short answer there is yes, they can be removed.

I recommend that you back them up first should you ever decide you might need to restore them.

By removing them, what you're doing is removing the possibility of ever uninstalling a particular update. But typically, that's exactly what you want. Typically, you don't need to go back and uninstall updates. If you specifically want to deal with the disk space that's being taken up by updates, that's the approach to take.

Space for update files

In my experience, while the space for these update files can be somewhat cumulative over time (in other words, it can take up more and more space over time), it tends not to be as big as some of the other things that are taking up space on your hard drive.

That is why I recommend addressing that problem itself: what's taking up the space on your hard drive? Do that first rather than assume it's the updates that are causing the problem.

Article C5300 - May 7, 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.

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