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  1. #1
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    Question Hard drive full; Windows XP Installer folder is 48.7GB!?!

    My wife's computer is running Windows XP, SP3 on an 80GB hard drive on a Dell desktop. She has periodically gotten warnings about her HD being full, so I'd suggested that she back up some photos to another drive to make room. Now that the holidays are here, we finally had some time to really look at the problem, and thanks to a wonderful little program called TreeSizeFree (Thanks, Eike), I was able to determine the real problem.

    As you can see from the screenshot below, her HD appears to have a massive tumor growing in it. Out of a total available HD size of 75.796GB, Windows is taking up a massive 48.734GB, 48.423GB (91.9%) of which is the Installer folder . By way of comparison, that same scan on my XP, SP2 Dell desktop showed Windows at 5.798GB and the Installer folder at 0.861GB, and on my Dell XP SP3 laptop Windows was 6.485GB with an Installer folder at 0.471GB.

    Windows XP Installer 48.7GB.jpg

    Clearly, something is (literally!) hugely wrong here and I'd appreciate any thoughts or suggestions that might help me to resolve it. I've owned and played with computers since 1985, so I'm moderately computer savvy, but I'm certainly no "techie," so if the solution to this turns out to be a super high-tech or high risk operation, I'll probably just hand it over to a "computer doctor" here in town and let them handle the "tumor removal."

    Thanks in advance for any and all help.
    Al
    Windows 7 Pro, 64-Bit, SP1 on desktop
    Windows XP/Media Edition, SP3 on Dell laptop
    Windows 7 Home Premium, 32-bit, SP1 on HP Mini 5103
    Samsung Galaxy S2 running JB 4.1.2

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  3. #2
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    The installer folder likely contains the installation files for Windows, and all the patches, Updates, etc. These files have likely been elliminated on the other PC's. I might try using Disk Cleanup to clean much of this junk out. But I would set a more agressive disk cleanup. The default setting is very mild mannered whereas the aggresive cleanup will likely clean up many of these files.

    Open Notepad and paste the following into it and save as a .bat file on your desktop:

    cleanmgr /sageset:99
    del /q /s "C:\Users\User Name\AppData\Local\Temp\*.*"
    del /q /s "C:\Windows\Temp\*.*"
    del /q /s "C:\Temp\*.*"
    cleanmgr /sagerun:99


    cleanmgr is the Disk Cleanup utility included with Windows. The sageset and sagerun commands sets a more aggressive cleanup:

    Sageset.jpg

    I would check mark all the categories. Notice there is also a link to Cleanup system files. I would also click on this and clean ouit the system.

    The other lines just clean out a few temporary file locations. You have to modify the paths here for your system. (Note, these pathways are for Win 7, you can change the paths to reflect your XP pathways by just changing the info.) You can also included many other temporary folders by adding the del /q /s command followed by the path to the folder you wish to include here.

    The other utility that works well for cleaning out these files is CCleaner. This app does a nice job with temporary files, but as with all such apps, use caution on what you clean. The registry cleaner can be used too aggresively. Also, many AV apps (MSE included) store info on the last scan here and these logs can be wiped out so your AV will want to run another scan even if you just scanned before the cleanup.
    Last edited by Medico; 2011-12-29 at 04:24.
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  5. #3
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    Thanks for your prompt reply, Ted. I have three questions, though, before I venture onwards:

    A) The path specified in your batch file for Windows (del /q /s "C:\Windows\Temp\*.*") would presumably clear out the Windows "Temp" subdirectory, but the huge bloat is in the "C:\Windows\Installer\" subdirectory. Will one of the other lines in your batch file address this directory in some way, or am I missing something here? Put another way, do I need to add another line to the batch file that reads del /q /s "C:\Windows\Installer\*.*", or would that be incorrect/unsafe?

    B) If this batch file - or CCleaner, or any other disk cleaner program - is just going to go in and do a wholesale removal of all those "Installer" files, is it not possible to take the direct approach and just delete them directly, or are there some files that need to be retained in the Installer folder? I'm not familiar with the functions of the Installer folder, but if its only purpose is to hold temporary files during installation of parts of Windows, and if there's nothing that currently remains to be installed, could it not simply be emptied? I may well be showing my ignorance here of some other vital function that the files in this folder perform, but if so, I'm not sure I'd trust my judgment in using a program like CCleaner, as I might inadvertently delete some files I should retain.

    C) Even if I manage to get the "Installer" subdirectory cleaned up (or cleaned out), what's to prevent Windows from loading up that Installer subdirectory again? If Windows has been collecting installer files in that subdirectory all along, what's to prevent it from continuing to do so? In other words, if the other two XP machines we run haven't done this, why has this machine decided to hoard these files? If I want to prevent this sort of thing from happening again, do I perhaps need to change a setting somewhere to prevent such file retention?

    I'm also assuming that my running of your batch file, "more aggressive" as you say it is, will not endanger the functioning of that computer. If I'm incorrect in this assumption, please let me know where the pitfalls may be, as we can't afford to have that machine down for any significant length of time.

    Thanks again for your help.

    Al
    Windows 7 Pro, 64-Bit, SP1 on desktop
    Windows XP/Media Edition, SP3 on Dell laptop
    Windows 7 Home Premium, 32-bit, SP1 on HP Mini 5103
    Samsung Galaxy S2 running JB 4.1.2

  6. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by HealingHands33 View Post
    Thanks in advance for any and all help.
    Al,

    Hello...There are a few things that can do this ..that will add along with that "Installer file" I will list some

    1.Having lots of temp files Run CCleaner CCleaner Free

    2.Remove service pack backups

    3.Having large amount of restore points\ backups

    4.If you go to my computer and click on Windows ...You will see all the $NtUninstallKBblahblah$ these are there in case you want to Uninstall some "KB" update or service pack

    5. Also have a look see at disk clean up... you may have the " Compress little used files blah, blah" checked off.

    6. Do you have "Hibernate" enabled?
    Regards Fred

    PS : I have read about "Zone Alarm" having huge files...also when you scroll down that list is there a "Mega" folder? ...Make sure that you do a "Full Image" backup before you go removing and deleting things... Post back if your not sure how.
    Last edited by Just Plain Fred; 2011-12-29 at 16:37.
    PlainFred

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    Hello...There are a few things that can do this ..that will add along with that "Installer file" I will list some

    1.Having lots of temp files Run CCleaner CCleaner Free

    2.Remove service pack backups

    3.Having large amount of restore points\ backups

    4.If you go to my computer and click on Windows ...You will see all the $NtUninstallKBblahblah$ these are there in case you want to Uninstall some "KB" update or service pack

    5. Also have a look see at disk clean up... you may have the " Compress little used files blah, blah" checked off.

    6. Do you have "Hibernate" enabled?
    Hi, Fred,

    Thanks for your thoughts on this. However, if I understand your first sentence correctly, I take it that you are saying that the following six items are other possible sources of file bloat in addition to whatever is going on within the C:\Windows\Installer\Files subdirectory, as I don't see how any of those possible issues would create file bloat in the Installer subdirectory. I'll state right up front that this may just be due to my ignorance of how those items work, and if that's the case, then any and all instruction or education on that point will be hugely welcome.

    To briefly address the six suggestions you kindly offered:

    1. I've run XP's standard disk cleanup program and used it to remove all the temp files it found.

    2. I'm not sure how/where to remove Service Pack backups, nor do I understand how this would reduce file bloat in the Installer subdirectory. If removing those backups will do that, any information on why it works and how to do it will be much appreciated.

    3. I recently checked all three computers and made sure that the restore point allotment was about 2GB on each one.

    4. I'm not sure I'd want to start uninstalling and KB or service packs; not being sure of what I was doing or which items to uninstall, I wouldn't want to risk making a big mistake and creating havoc on her machine, and again, I'm not sure how removing those items would affect the Installer subdirectory.

    5. In my previous desperate efforts to give her as much space on the HD as possible, all possible compression was checked in the standard XP disk cleanup program.

    6. No hibernation is enabled.

    I'm not sure if any of those answers help to clarify anything for you or anybody else. As for me, I'm still in the dark as to how those files got to be in the Installer subdirectory, whether they're safe to remove, and once they're removed, how to keep them or others from coming back. Would it help anyone if I were to post a screenshot of at least part of the listing of the directories or files under the C:\Windows\Installer\Files subdirectory, which is where the huge bloat is? I'm just wondering if that would give someone a clue as to what's in there, which might help us to understand how they got there and whether/how to remove them.

    Thanks again, Fred, for your thoughts. I really do appreciate all ideas and suggestions as I try to puzzle this out.

    Al
    Windows 7 Pro, 64-Bit, SP1 on desktop
    Windows XP/Media Edition, SP3 on Dell laptop
    Windows 7 Home Premium, 32-bit, SP1 on HP Mini 5103
    Samsung Galaxy S2 running JB 4.1.2

  8. #6
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    The batch file is an example I use. These do clean the temp folders specified. The Dick Cleanup removes the system files we are discussing. This is kind of a all in one thing. You can clean temp folders (as many as the paths you specify) and the Disk Cleanup on steroids. The original batch file came from Fred Langa back in Win 95 days and has been modified through the years as each new version of Windows was released. Like I said just change the paths to the folders in XP (sorry I do not still have XP and do not remember the folder paths.) The Disk Cleanup app is the official way MS suggests to delete the extra system files.

    I do use CCleaner quite frequently as well as the batch file for my regular cleanups. As Fred mentions, how about hibernate??? The hiberfil.sys file can get very large, in the order of 3 to 4 GB in size. If you disable hibernate, the hiberfil.sys file can be deleted.

    The Disk Cleanup should take care of the service pack backups as well. This would be the first thing I would try along wth CCleaner and see what things look like after that. If the updates are working, then the uninstall info ($NtUninstallKBblahblah$) can be deleted. I routinely did this in my Win XP days as these can get rather large as well.

    I guess the bottom line is the more of this stuff you eliminate, the leaner your OS becomes.
    Last edited by Medico; 2011-12-29 at 17:46.
    BACKUP...BACKUP...BACKUP
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    The Installer folder contains msi install file & msp patch files for software installed using the Windows Installer. If you use Windows Explorer and navigate to the installer folder you can hover on the msi file and you should see the software package which it contains. Some msp file contain software package names too. Sometimes uninstalling a program does not delete the msi/msp files. If you see a program that is no longer installed you can delete the msi/msp file(s). However, if the program is still installed you should leave the files alone as they are important to proper servicing of the application.

    Joe

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    Quote Originally Posted by HealingHands33 View Post

    I'm just wondering if that would give someone a clue as to what's in there, which might help us to understand how they got there and whether/how to remove them.
    Al,
    Hello... If you scroll down that long list does any one file\folder have a huge amount of data in it... the reason being is that i found some (internet search) who had a similar problem and it was a file created by a program called "Zone Alarm" Also like i said before do a full system backup now before you try anything ...there are really good free programs that will do this... post back if your unsure how... Regards Fred
    PlainFred

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    Many thanks to all of you for your various posts.

    Joe, thanks for your explanation of what those files are, as I had no idea of what I might be dealing with. Unfortunately, your suggestion of hovering over the file names to see if I can delete them is a wee bit impractical, for as you can see from the screenshot below, there are 8,672 files (!!!) in the C:\Windows\Installer\Files subdirectory, the largest of which (at the top of the listing, in size order) is only 110.6MB.

    Fred, as noted above, you can see in this screenshot that there is no one file within the C:\Windows\Installer\Files subdirectory that is super-huge and therefore the source of the problem. The problem doesn't seem to be a case of a single file being too large, but rather of thousands of smaller files being stuffed into the C:\Windows\Installer\Files subdirectory for some reason, resulting in a total Files subdirectory size of 48.4GB.

    Windows XP Installer 48.7GB Files Listing.jpg

    What really puzzles me is that, as noted in my original post, neither of our two other XP machines has this problem; it's only happening on her machine, so I want to find the root cause of the problem and fix it, lest it crop up again.

    I've had one thought that might perhaps give a clue to somebody far more knowledgeable about these things than I am. I want to know what's being put onto my two computers, so I monitor the updates from Microsoft when they come in, allowing in all that are relevant and not allowing the few that are not. My wife, on the other hand, is not very technical and can't be bothered with such things, so she tends to make all her settings fully automatic. I recall now that I've frequently noticed that when she would shut her machine down at night and I happened to be nearby, or if she had asked me to shut it down for her, Windows would frequently (very frequently? almost always?) have multiple updates to install before shutting down. I sometimes vaguely wondered why I didn't have the same thing happening on my desktop (I only use the laptop occasionally), but just assumed the difference had to do with her settings vs. mine and then forgot about it, both because it didn't seem to be causing a problem and because at that time of night I'm usually too tired to care about anything other than sleep. Now that I've finally found the real source of the file bloat on her machine, I'm just wondering if somehow Windows has been sticking extra files into her C:\Windows\Installer\Files subdirectory each evening for the last who knows how long, and if so, why.

    I'll mention one other thing I've just thought of that probably isn't relevant, but I'm not savvy enough to know that for sure. Originally, my wife's 80GB HD was partitioned into C: and D: drives, but that arrangement didn't work for her, so she had a local computer service company change it so that everything was in one partition, with the former D:\ files added into the C:\ as a subdirectory. I can't think offhand of any way that such a change would have caused Windows to start adding thousands of files to the C:\Windows\Installer\Files subdirectory, but there are lots of folks on this forum who are way smarter about such things than I am, so I thought I'd mention it, just in case there's a possible connection that I'm unaware of.

    Now that I know where the real problem lies, I guess it all comes down to two questions:

    A) How can I fix this correctly and safely so that my wife can have use of the 48+GB that are now being wasted?

    B) How can I keep this from happening again?

    Thanks again to all of you for your thoughts and suggestions. I really appreciate any and all help.

    Al
    Windows 7 Pro, 64-Bit, SP1 on desktop
    Windows XP/Media Edition, SP3 on Dell laptop
    Windows 7 Home Premium, 32-bit, SP1 on HP Mini 5103
    Samsung Galaxy S2 running JB 4.1.2

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    I don't know, Very odd, all my XP computers report like 1.6 gigs or so in that folder and they've all been installed for years and years.

    Being in the dark like that, I would image the drive and then delete those files and see if that causes any harm or not. Go on from there if not, restore from the image if it did do harm...and then think about it some more.
    Last edited by Just Plain Fred; 2011-12-31 at 06:36.

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    I'd be very suspicious of all those 43.4 MB patch files. Check all the installed programs on the system. I'd also look for the .msi files and see which programs they represent.

    Joe

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    Quote Originally Posted by HealingHands33 View Post
    Fred, as noted above, you can see in this screenshot that there is no one file within the C:\Windows\Installer\Files subdirectory that is super-huge and therefore the source of the problem. The problem doesn't seem to be a case of a single file being too large, but rather of thousands of smaller files being stuffed into the C:\Windows\Installer\Files subdirectory for some reason, resulting in a total Files subdirectory size of 48.4GB.
    Al,
    Hello....Question when you look at the files do they all have to do with "Office"?... this could be the clue that we need... As "Infinicore" has suggested First make a backup of the PC (Full OS Image) There are several free programs that will do this..Save the Image to another Internal or External HD or Flash drive or even DVD's...At that point you can start to try things without worries ...With the Image you can restore the original in about 10 minutes or less...Post back if you are unsure how... Regards Fred

    PS: Just found this relating to failed "Office Updates" might have a look...Windows update
    Last edited by Just Plain Fred; 2012-01-01 at 11:26.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Medico View Post
    The installer folder likely contains the installation files for Windows, and all the patches, Updates, etc. These files have likely been elliminated on the other PC's. I might try using Disk Cleanup to clean much of this junk out. But I would set a more agressive disk cleanup. The default setting is very mild mannered whereas the aggresive cleanup will likely clean up many of these files.

    Open Notepad and paste the following into it and save as a .bat file on your desktop:

    cleanmgr /sageset:99
    del /q /s "C:\Users\User Name\AppData\Local\Temp\*.*"
    del /q /s "C:\Windows\Temp\*.*"
    del /q /s "C:\Temp\*.*"
    cleanmgr /sagerun:99


    cleanmgr is the Disk Cleanup utility included with Windows. The sageset and sagerun commands sets a more aggressive cleanup:
    Hello! Sorry for upping an old thread, but I just had to register and express my gratitude for the aforementioned clean-up script. Sir, you're a lifesaver!

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