I have 75 files in my Windows Directory that look like
$NtUninstallKB885836$. What are these files? Can they be safely deleted?
Well, first, those are folders – not files. Folders, also known as
directories, contain files or other folders.
The clue is that KB part – that stands for KnowledgeBase, and the number
that follows it is a Microsoft Knowledgebase article. The other clue is the
word “Uninstall” in the folder name.
That will help us determine what they are. Whether or not you can delete
them … well, it turns out that’s up to you, once you understand what they’re
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To use the example you’ve provided, Knowledgebase article number 885836 is a
security bulletin: “MS04-041: A vulnerability in WordPad could allow code
execution”. The folder $NtUninstallKB885836$ is created when you download and
install the patch for that vulnerability. That happens either via Automatic
Updates, or by visiting the Windows Update web site and installing the patches
If you go to Control Panel, and look Add or Remove
Programs, you’ll find an entire section there labeled “Windows XP
Software Updates”. In that list you’ll probably find an entry that references
By now, you’ll probably have gathered that the folder $NtUninstallKB885836$
contains the information necessary to uninstall that update.
If you go looking in that folder, you’ll probably find the previous versions of
any files affected by the update, as well as an uninstall program and more than
likely some additional support files.
Can you simply delete the folders?
Yes, if you are positive you’ll never want to uninstall
the associated patch.
want to uninstall the associated patch.”
A safer approach is the one I outlined in a earlier article Is it safe to delete this file? –
back up the folders first. Burn them to CD, copy them to another machine, do
something such that if you find out some time later that deleting them was a
mistake you can get them back.
Then delete them. It’s a fine way to free up some disk space – but probably
not as much as you think. If they’re a different color in Windows Explorer,
ever wonder why? It’s because Windows has compressed them for you. Since they
are used so rarely, compressing the files makes a lot of sense. It does mean,
though, that when you delete them you may not get back as much disk space as