How to delete all downloaded Windows Update files

When Windows installs a new version, it leaves behind temporary files. These leftover files take up space and can affect the installation of Windows Updates. Deleting old Windows Update files frees up more disk space.

The operation is also an effective solution for troubleshooting Windows Update installation issues. This tutorial covers several methods to delete old Windows Update files on Windows 11 and Windows 10 computers.

Is it safe to delete Windows Update files?

Deleting old Windows Updates files will not harm your computer software or hardware components. Personal files are also not deleted. It’s a safe process.

The only downside is that you may not be able to undo or restore previous versions of Windows to your computer. A good rule of thumb is to delete Windows Update files only if:

  • Storage space is low.
  • Your PC cannot install Windows Updates.

Delete old Windows Update files

There are multiple ways to delete Windows Updates files on Windows computers. You can use built-in tools like Disk Cleanup and Command Prompt to get the job done. Likewise, you can also manually locate and delete temporary Windows Updates files.

We highlight below four ways to get rid of the Windows Update files. The steps may vary depending on the version of your PC’s operating system.

Remove Windows Update files from Windows Settings

Windows 11 and Windows 10 computers have a “Windows Update Cleanup” tool in the Settings menu. Follow the steps below to use the tool to delete old Windows Update files.

  1. In Windows 11, go to SettingsSystemStorage and select Temporary files
  1. Select the Clean up Windows Update and Delivery optimization files check boxes. Then select the Delete files button at the top of the page.

“Delivery Optimization Files” are associated with Windows Updates. The files allow your computer to exchange Windows Updates information with devices on your local network.

Although Windows Delivery Optimization automatically deletes files after a short period of time, it is safe to delete them manually from your computer. Microsoft recommends deleting the files to create free space on your hard drive.

  1. Select Get on on the confirmation to delete the Windows Update files.

Remark: For Windows 10 go to SettingsSystemStorageThis PCTemporary filesPrevious version of Windowsand select Delete files

Remove Windows Update files with Disk Cleanup

Disk Cleanup is a built-in app for freeing up disk space on Windows devices. It is a compilation of unique tools for removing various file types that eat up your PC’s storage space. You can use Disk Cleanup to delete temporary app files, empty your PC’s Recycle Bin, delete unnecessary Internet files, etc.

Follow the steps below to use the Disk Cleanup app:

  1. press the Start buttontype disk cleanup in the search bar and select Run as administrator under Disk Cleanup.

You can also open the Windows Run window (press Windows keyR), type or paste cleanmgr.exe in the dialog box and select Okay

  1. Select the Clean up Windows Update and Delivery optimization files checkboxes and select Okay

If you don’t see the “Windows Update Cleanup” option, you haven’t opened Disk Cleanup with administrator privileges. Press Clean up system files to unlock all the features of Disk Cleanup.

The Windows Update Cleanup option should appear in the Disk Cleanup app within seconds.

  1. Select Delete files in the popup to continue.

Manually delete Windows Update files

First, you need to stop the Windows Update service, the background service that detects, downloads, and installs updates for Windows and other programs.

  1. Open the Windows Start menu, type Services in the search bar and select Run as administrator under the Services app.
  1. Right click on Windows Update on the list of services and select Stop
  1. Open File Explorer (press Windows keyE), To stick C:\WINDOWS\SoftwareDistribution\Download in the navigation pane and press Enter

That will open the SoftwareDistribution folder, where Windows stores temporary installation files necessary to update your computer’s operating system. Deleting or moving the contents of the folder can also fix problems with Windows Update.

  1. Press CtrlA to select all folders. Right click on the selection and select the trash icon—or press the Delete key on your keyboard.

You can move the files to an external storage device if you don’t want to delete them. The last step is to restart the Windows Update service.

  1. Open the Windows Services app again (see step #1), right click Windows Updateand select Get started

If a new Windows Update is available for your computer, Windows downloads new files to the Software Distribution folder. Windows Update temporary files are often large. If your PC is low on storage space, empty the folder after every Windows Update installation.

Deleting Windows Update Files Using Command Prompt

This method involves using Command Prompt to delete the Windows Update cache files in your PC’s Software Distribution folder.

  1. Type command prompt or cmd in the Windows search bar and select Run as administrator
  1. Type or paste just stop wuauserv in the terminal and press Enter on the keyboard.

This command instructs Windows to stop the Windows Update service. Proceed to the next step when the command prompt displays a “The WIndows Updater service has successfully stopped” message.

  1. Then type or paste cd %Windir%\SoftwareDistribution in the terminal and press Enter† This command opens the Software Distribution folder.
  1. Type of pasta del /f /s /q Download and press Enter

Command Prompt deletes the contents of the download folder in the assigned folder (ie SoftwareDistribution). The process may take a few minutes depending on the size of the Windows Update files. Continue to the next section when you get a success message.

  1. Type or paste just start wauser in the console and press Enter to restart the Windows Update service.

Spoiled for choice

My favorite thing about Windows is that there is almost always more than one approach to performing an action. The four methods mentioned above will delete all downloaded Windows Update files on your PC. We recommend that you restart your computer after deleting the files.

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