How to Change Windows 11/10 Update Download Location

Published by Nyau Wai Hoe - Updated on

Are you facing difficulty updating your computer to Windows 10 or Windows 11 due to insufficient space on your primary hard drive? The Windows Update process requires adequate storage to download and store installation files, which can be problematic if your drive is already full. However, there’s a solution to this problem. By changing the Windows Update download location, you can ensure that your updates download onto a drive with more available space.

In this article, we will guide you through the steps to change the Windows Update download location and keep your PC updated without any storage issues. We will also ensure that all existing images and links are included and applicable to Windows 11 as well.

Also see: How to Delete Windows Update Files in Windows 11

Why change the download location for Windows Update?

When you run Windows Update on Windows 11 or 10, it will first download all the necessary installation files onto your primary hard drive, which is usually the C:\ drive. It will then install the updates from the downloaded files.

During the process, especially if it’s a major update, if your drive is already full, the Windows update may be interrupted due to insufficient storage space to store the installation files. In this case, we will have to change the Windows Update download location folder to another drive with more available space to allow the update process to go on.

Steps to change the Windows Update download location

To change the Windows Update download location, we need to stop the Windows Update service and create a symlink. Follow these steps to proceed:

Step 1: Stop the Windows Update service

  • Right-click on your taskbar and select “Task Manager”.
  • Go to the “Services” tab.
  • Look for the service called “wuauserv.”
  • Optionally, sort the names for easier viewing to find the service.
  • Right-click on “wuauserv” and click “Stop“.

Stop windows update service

Step 2: Change the old path and create a new Windows update download location

  1. Change the default location of where Windows 11 or 10 downloads its update installation files from C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution to C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution_old.
  2. Create a new folder in the drive where you want the Windows 11 or 10 update downloads to be stored. The folder can be any name, for example, E:\NewWindowsUpdateLocation (or whichever drive or folder’s name you prefer).

Change Windows 11/10 Update Download Location

Step 3: Create a symlink to connect the two paths

  1. Open Command Prompt as an administrator. You can do this by searching for Command Prompt in Windows Search or Cortana, right-clicking on it, and selecting Run as administrator.
  2. In the Command Prompt, enter the following command:
    mklink /j C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution E:\NewWindowsUpdateLocation

Mklink windows update folder

When the command shows “Junction created,” it means the symlink is successfully created. You will see a shortcut link in C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution. Although it would still look like Windows update downloads are stored in this location, it’s actually pointing to the new path as instructed in the created symlink.
Windows 11/10 Software Distribution folder

Optionally, you can move all the folders in the SoftwareDistribution_old folder to the new Windows 11 or 10 update download location you created earlier so that Windows Update doesn’t have to re-download things it had downloaded earlier again.
Windows Update Downloaded Files

If you decide to let Windows 11 or 10 update download afresh, you can delete all the files in SoftwareDistribution_old as they are no longer being used.

Step 4: Restart the Windows Update service

  • Go back to the Task Manager and click on the “Services” tab.
  • Search for “wuauserv” and right-click on it, then select “Start.”

You can now try to run Windows Update again by going to Settings > Update and Security > Windows Update. Then, click on “Check for Updates.”

If you see an “Access is Denied” error when you enter the command in CMD, even if you run the Command Prompt as an administrator, or if you can’t rename the Software Distribution folder in C:\Windows, boot your Windows into safe mode and repeat the steps again. This should help if Windows Update can’t be stopped in the previous session or if you have a problem with your admin privileges in Windows 11 or 10.

Closing remarks

By changing the Windows Update download location, you can avoid storage issues and keep your PC updated without any interruptions. With just a few simple steps, you can change the default download location to a drive with more available space.

Additionally, you can consider using an SSD instead of an HDD for your Windows update download folder to speed up the overall performance of Windows Update. By doing this, you can ensure that your PC stays up-to-date without any lag or delays. We hope this guide has been helpful in resolving your Windows update issues in Windows 11 or Windows 10.

Nyau Wai Hoe
Nyau Wai Hoe is the Founder and Chief Editor of With a degree in software engineering and over 12 years of experience in the tech support industry, Nyau has established himself as an expert in the field, with a primary focus on the Microsoft Windows operating system. As a tech enthusiast, he loves exploring new technologies and leveraging them to solve real-life problems.

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