How to Delete Windows Update Download Files

By Dave Wilson

Updated September 28, 2017

Items you will need

  • Microsoft Windows computer

  • Windows account that has administrator privileges

Windows update provides a convenient, automated way to ensure that Windows computers are kept current with software patches and security fixes. There are times, however, when an update might conflict with other software on the computer. Windows update files also consume a large amount of space on the computer hard drive over time. To address these concerns, Windows update files can be deleted quickly by following a simple procedure.

Click the “Start” button, then click the “Run” (Windows XP) or “Search” (Windows Vista and 7) box and then type “services.msc” and press the “Enter” key. The “Services” window will open.

Find and click on the “Windows Update” service from the list. Click the “Stop” link located on the left side of the “Services” window to stop the “Windows Update” service.

Click the “Start” button, then click the “Run” (Windows XP) or “Search” (Windows Vista and 7) box and then type “C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\DataStore” and press the “Enter” key. A window will open and display the contents of the “DataStore” directory.

Press the “CTL” and “A” keys at the same time to select (highlight) all folders and files in the “DataStore” directory.

Press the “Delete” key on the keyboard or click the “File” menu at the top of the window, and then click “Delete” in the drop-down menu that appears. The “DataStore” directory should now be empty.

Click the “Up Arrow” folder icon at the top of the window to move up one directory to the “SoftwareDistribution” directory. Double-click the “Download” directory to open the “Download” directory in a new window. Press the “CTL” and “A” keys at the same time to select all files and folders in the “Download” directory.

Press the “Delete” key on the keyboard or click the “File” menu at the top of the window, and then click “Delete” in the drop-down menu that appears. The “Download” directory should now be empty and all temporary Windows Update files have been deleted.

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