If you have been using your Windows for a long time without any reformat, you would surely have noticed that the C:\Windows\Installer folder has grown into a giant sized folder and getting even bigger by time. This can be a harsh trouble if your Windows system is on a rather small-sized SSD hard drive. It’s reported that the folder can grow to a massive 50 GB or sometimes even more. So, the question is, is it safe to delete or cleanup the Windows Installer folder? how should we deal with the huge sized Windows Installer folder?
Delete or Cleanup Windows Installer folder in Windows 10
Well, it is not safe to delete the entire Windows Installer folder because some of the files in it are used by your system for proper functioning in Windows 10. Some other guides would usually tell you to identify and delete the no longer needed MSI and MSP files in the Installer folder, which is kind of difficult and troublesome. In this guide, instead of doing that, we will show you how to create a Symbolic link of the Installer folder onto another drive to save a ton of disk space on your system drive.
Creating a Symbolic link for the Windows Installer folder to save space
Update Aug 2019, please read: After recent Windows updates, it seems that creating symbolic link or directory junction for the Windows\Installer folder would cause installation issue such as “The system cannot open the device or file specified – Error 2755” error especially when you run a “.msi” installer. It is advised that for now you should avoid creating symlink for the installer folder until it is safe to do so. However, you can try to do so and reverse the changes (by following the guide in the next paragraph below) should you run into any installation problem.
If you have previously implemented the symlink or directory junction for the installer folder and run into installation problem, you can reverse the changes by first copy the Installer folder back to C:\Windows (since same names cannot coexist, temporary rename the copied folder to anything such as “Installer – Copied”). Then, run the command “rmdir /s /q C:\Windows\Installer” and rename your previously renamed “Installer – Copied” folder back to “Installer”.
By creating a symbolic link for the Windows Installer folder, it means that we will first copy the Windows Installer folder to another drive (e.g. from C: to D:) where there is more space you can spare. We will then delete the original Installer folder from the Windows directory and create a symbolic link from the Windows directory to the Installer folder you’ve copied earlier on another drive.
It works like a shortcut to the folder, which means you can have the actual folder on another drive but it will work as if the folder is there on the original system drive after creating the symlink. Please know that a Symbolic link is different from that of a shortcut. By simply creating a shortcut to the Installer folder will not work and will possibly cause serious issues.
If you still don’t understand how it works, don’t worry. We will show you a detailed step-by-step guide on how to do it below.
However, as we have mentioned before, deleting the Installer folder may risk corrupting your Windows. Since deleting the folder is a procedure in this guide, if you did it wrong, your Windows may still be corrupted. So, please do this at your own risk.
Step 1: Unhide the Windows Installer folder
First off, the Installer folder is hidden by default (it’s not missing), even with the “show hidden files and folders” option enabled. To allow explorer to view the folder, in Windows 10 File Explorer, go to View from the top menu. Select Options, then Change folder and search options. Click on the View tab and then disable the “hide protected operating system files (recommended)” option. Also, make sure the “Show hidden files, folders and drives” option is enabled.
Step 2: Copy the Installer folder to another drive
Now that you can see the Installer folder in Windows directory, copy the entire Windows Installer folder to another drive of your choice. For example, from C:\Windows\Installer to D:\Important\Windows\Installer. This copy process may take quite a while depending how massive your Installer folder is.
Recommended step: Make one more copy of the Installer folder on another place as a backup just in case if anything goes wrong.
Step 3: Creating the symlink using CMD
After the copying is done, go to start menu or Cortana, search for Command Prompt or CMD and then run it as administrator. In the elevated command prompt, enter the following commands each line at a time. Note: You have to replace the drive letter and/or folder path in the commands if your Windows folder is at a different path.
rmdir /s /q C:\Windows\Installer
The above command is to remove the C:\Windows\Installer directory and delete the folder entirely.
mklink /D C:\Windows\Installer D:\Important\Windows\Installer
After the first command is successfully completed, execute the second command as shown above to create the symlink from C:\Windows\Installer to D:\Important\Windows\Installer.
That’s it. The “shortcut” for the Windows Installer folder is now created and a ton of disk space is freed up on your system drive. From now onward, any request for files in the Installer folder will be diverted to those on the D: drive.