Deleting Windows $NTUninstall Folders

I like a clean computer. Thanks to prolific security patches from Microsoft, there are hundreds of files and folders cluttering up my Windows folder, forcing me to wade through garbage every time I search for something. How do you safely clean them up without messing up the already fragile operating system?

© Richard D. LeCour

First, what is all that junk? The $NTUninstall directories are created after the installation of a Microsoft Service Pack, a software hotfix, or a security update. They contain the uninstall information for each of the Microsoft updates, therefore if you delete the files and folders you will be unable to uninstall the updates. The corresponding log files are files that show the details of all the changes made during the patch installation. But if you simply delete them, Windows still has a record of them and expects them to be there.

If you have a registry cleaning tool such as CrapCleaner, you can simply delete the folders and run the cleaning tool.

If you can’t (or don’t want to) install a registry cleaning tool, here’s how to safely remove the $NTUninstall¬†folders manually:

  1. Delete selected $NTUninstallKB folders. The names will look like $NtUninstallKB822603$ and $NtUninstallKB899587$. Keep track of the numbers after the KB of the folders you delete. Usually they’re sequential so hopefully you can just jot down a range, but there will always be a few outlying exceptions.
  2. Open the registry editor, and navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE -> Software -> Microsoft -> Windows -> CurrentVersion -> Uninstall.
  3. Find the keys for each of the folders you deleted, and delete them, too. No way to do them in bulk, unfortunately. However, you can get a nice repeating rhythm of DEL, ENTER, DEL, ENTER. Just don’t forget to stop!
  4. Delete the desired KBNNNNNN.log files from the Windows folder.

Leave mentions of the updates within HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Updates alone. These mentions of the patches indicate that the patches have been properly installed. Removing these keys will confuse Windows into thinking that the patches have not been completed. Your only remedy after that point would be to reinstall the patches. Safer just to ignore them.

With just a couple minutes of effort, I’ve just freed up 400MB on my laptop, and another 500MB on one of my desktops!

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