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Do I Need These Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributables?

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I’m wondering if I need all of these Microsoft programs on here, like Microsoft Visual C++ 2005 redistributable or Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 redistributable. It’s taking up space on my hard drive and I’m wondering if those programs are really necessary.

Time for my most common, yet most annoying answer:

it depends.

I’ll describe what the Visual C++ redistributables are all about, and why the safest thing to do is probably to leave them alone.

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Visual C++ Redistributables

C++ is a programming language — one of several languages authors use to create software.

Visual C++ is Microsoft’s implementation of the tools those authors use.

When authors write software using Microsoft Visual C++, they make use of what are called “standard libraries”. These are collections of pre-written software that allow programmers to avoid writing common sequences of code. Instead, they use this collection of pre-written and very thoroughly-tested software.

Visual C++ Redistributables in Windows 10They’re termed “redistributable” because they are Microsoft software that can be distributed by third-party programs. When you install a program, the setup program has the option of installing the Visual C++ Redistributable if it’s not present. On the other hand, if you have five programs using the Visual C++ Redistributable, there only needs to be one copy of it on your computer, installed by the first of the five to have been installed.

There are, of course, multiple different versions of the Visual C++ Redistributable, and apparently newer ones do not necessarily supersede the older ones. For example, the Visual C++ 2008 Redistributable doesn’t automatically replace the Visual C++ 2005 Redistributable — both may be needed. Much like the .NET Framework, you can end up with more than one version on your machine.

Do you need them?

I have no idea if you need them. I have no idea if you need just one or two or all of the several versions that may be installed on your machine.

It depends on the software on your machine.

If the software installed on your machine needs them, you need them. If it doesn’t, you might not. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way for you to tell which programs on your machine require which versions of the redistributables.

But given that they only appear on your machine if software that uses them is present1, I expect you probably do need them. Both.

Leaving them all in place is by far the safest thing to do.

Is it worth it?

My question to you is this: is it worth the time and risk to consider removing them?

In my experience, they won’t give you back nearly as much disk space as you expect. And they’re certainly not impacting system performance if they’re not being used.

If you’re in a true disk space crunch, I’d approach the problem by seeing what’s using the most space and attacking it from that angle. You’ll get more space more quickly if you approach it by looking for the space hogs first.

If you’re not running low on disk space, I wouldn’t spend any more time on it.

There’s always a risk of breaking something when removing components that are designed to be shared. There’s no simple way to ensure that there are no programs on your machine that need them.

The only way I know of to remove them with complete safety is to reformat and reinstall Windows and all applications from scratch. That way, only the redistributables you need will be installed.

And after all that, you may find you’re right back where you started. In my opinion, it’s just not worth it.

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Footnotes & references

1: In an ideal world, uninstalling the last software package that requires a particular version of the redistributables would also uninstall it. For various reasons, that’s not likely to be the case. If you uninstall software that requires a redistributable, you may be left with an unnecessary redistributable on your machine. Oh well.

77 comments on “Do I Need These Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributables?”

  1. A simple (though not foolproof) way of checking if a file is needed or used is to rename it. I put “XX” infront of the file in question, e.g. rename ‘msfile01’ to ‘XXmsfile01’. If after a few days or weeks of using your computer there have been no problems it might indicate that the file is not being used and could be deleted. If there are problems simply remove the ‘XX’ and your files are back as they were.

    • Good freaking idea! I am very comfortable operating computers. But I still have brain Frys like the best of em :P.

      “Music Is My Religion”

  2. A few years ago when I was clueless about computers I decided to clean things up. Took my friendly geek hours to fix things up. Nowadays it’s smarter just to get a bigger hard drive and you are set up for a long, long time.

    If it’s not broken don’t fix it.

  3. I have been burned by removing the Visual C++ Redistributables along with other “crapware” on a new Windows computer. It turns out it was needed by two different CD/DVD burning programs. There was NO warning when the software was removed that it was needed by another application. Each application failed to startup with an initialization error that was totally useless in terms of pinpointing the problem.

    I like the previous idea of renaming the folder where the software you are considering resides. After a while, if this doesn’t break anything, then rename the folder back and uninstall the software normally. BUT, in my case, this would not have helped as I very rarely use the software that broke.

  4. So let me get this straight:
    USUALLY, if it’s on my machine, it’s because there is software that needs it. As opposed to crap that MS places on my machine simply because I MIGHT have need of it someday in the future?
    I can live with that. I’ve got plenty of hard drive space. My only issue is putting up with stuff that someone else thinks I might need, when I don’t. (I use Revo Uninstaller to remove unnecessary remnants from a de-installation.)

  5. I have been having problems with HotMail. Slow, cursor misbehaves, and lots of connection problems. Last night I removed all the Windows Live aps and installed Chrome. Now HotMail is much more responsive and the connection issues have vanished. It was not a disk space issue. It was a performance issue. Maybe other readers have had the same experience with the Windows Live programs.

  6. I don’t actively use it, but I had issues with a Visual C++ Redistributable update wanting to install over and over and over. I e-mailed MS and got free (!!!) advice about what to do.
    And, I was advised NOT to uninstall any versions I found lurking about as my system could go kerflunk depending on various bullstuff.

  7. For me, this is a strong argument for reinstalling windows every six to twelve months. It resets all your installed software so you can start again and be sure only the parts you (or windows) need are installed.

    Might sound like a lot of work, but with either two drives (or a partitioned drive) you can keep data on one drive and windows and applications on another. Makes reformatting nothing more than an evening’s work.

    • What? I freak out about having to reinstall once every 4/5 years. All the garbage that gets installed by MickeySoft plus the detritus that various programs use… sometimes I think I should go back to a stone tablet, a mallet and chisel.

      Personally I keep data on a separate physical drive. Used to use a partitioned drive until things went haywire with a drive slowly starting to drive. Once bitten, twice shy is me.

      Having now a Win 10 box operating system in on SSD and data on standard platter type. Works for Me.

  8. Thank you for the article describing what the C++ Redistributables do. I have some knowledge of C++ programming but not a lot and I was confused why anything needed updating since C++ programs are compiled to CPU instructions, but now I understand.

  9. Anyone worried about running out of disk space should get more disk space, rather than risk deleting something ‘mysterious’ (to them) but vital. External hard drives are large, cheap, readily available and easy to install and use. Just go to your nearest computer store, spend some money, and plug it in

    To be fair, I do hear from many readers who don’t have the money, even for what some would consider an inexpensive hard disk upgrade.

    Leo
    07-Jan-2012
    • Leo, I hear you loud and strong. I am from New Zealand and on a benefit, what Americans call welfare.

      So money is tight for me… but I still managed to squirrel away enough money to buy a SSD and it has been the single most beneficial addition to any computer… from pressing the power button to being at the log in screen… 14 seconds on a Win 10 machine.

      My previous Win 7 machine ended up taking about 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. That. Is. A. Huge. Difference.

  10. @JmjmNZ
    What you are saying is true, except for hard drives being cheap. The price went up to double or more due to the flooding in Thailand, and many people may need a temporary solution until the prices come down in a few to several months from now.
    *** Update -The prices are down again.

  11. I understand more about Microsoft Visual C++ redistributables & the fact I need to keep them but why the need for both 86x & 64x versions of each update. I’m running a 64 bit operating system (if that matters)

  12. @VicTheChic
    A 64 bit computer is capable of running both 64 bit and 32 bit (x86) applications. Therefore you need the distributables for both.

  13. Hello Leo, just wanted to leave a message about the ad in this page. I use Adblock Plus and that ad, the look and feel of it, is amazing.
    I am not being facetious, I have that adblocker to block big blinking eye catching banners, popups and I only hope the ads of tomorrow will take cues from yours.

  14. “Do you need them? I have no idea if you need them. I have no idea if you need just one or both.”

    If you don’t know why are u wasting my time reading this?

  15. I am basic. I do not have an iphone nor do I intend to get one. I do not want programs on my little laptop that enable such items as they serve no purpose for me and I need the space for college. Does anyone know the programs I can delete to maximize space and eliminate “sharing” my laptop with any other devices.

  16. Your explanation of visual C was was clear and to the point , thank you . I’m an old man without much tech savey but I understood what you were saying .
    I found a bunch of these things in my programes list and was shocked . After reading what you had to say , I’M just gonna leave em alone .
    Thanks again Leo .

  17. Hi,
    I needed info on the necessity of having the Visual C++ 2005 Redistributables and saw the invitation to sign up for your newsletter (and get the ‘Slow Computer’ report). However…

    Your Newsletter signup is NOT working for me… When I tried my email address, twice the page fell over and I had to restart the process.. I never received any confirmation email in my account… yet on my third attempt, I got the message “Different Address Needed You cannot subscribe to this list with the email address you entered. Please correct any mistakes in the address and try to subscribe again. If you see this message again, please use a different email address to subscribe.”

    Of course, I will not provide my other email address, as I have known of some sites in the past that try to get All the email addresses from a person and then turn them around to mailing lists.

    If you can add me, well and good; if not, well and good… Please let me know…
    Thank you, Steve

  18. Re Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributable.
    I had two seemingly identical versions of this program (Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 Redistributable – x64 9.0.30729.6161), one took 600KB of space and the other takes 782KB. I uninstalled the first one before I read your warning not to do so. Since they are both the same version of the program, albeit with a slightly different size, can I assume that the second program is exactly the same as the first and will replace it if needed? Or should I attempt to reinstall the first one?
    Thank you.

  19. Thanks for the article Leo. I was just wondering though… Do all windows platforms have this issue with Microsoft Visual C++ ? Or does one version have less of a problem? Also curious if Macs have these kind of issues? Or are they free from problems such as these? I know they don’t have virus problems, but what about tons of unnecessary (but maybe necessary) files like windows based computers? I have grown accustom to PCs and am kind of stuck using them as all my work, files, programs and data are PC based. But I’m kind of tired of all the time and labor trying to keep my computer running well. The maintenance time needed to keep it running efficiently has grown out of hand. Buying a new hard-drive, upgrading to the latest OS or just a newer computer seems like a foolish move if the problem never really goes away. The fight still continues, just with a larger playing field. Will technology ever really be efficient?

    • This particular problem is not related to any particular version of Windows. It’s really more about Windows software and how Windows software is architected. My experience on Apple is that they attempt to share less code than Windows programs originally tried to do.

  20. I have removed all of the C++ using the windows Programs and Features from my W10 machine … after a restart (with no issues) I have been running various programs to see if they require any version of C++ … so far nothing … I am sure something needs it, but I have downloaded the redistributable versions from Microsoft just in case …

  21. You sound too lazy or too unconcerned to look up tech things or solve problems…so why have this site? I will avoid it from now on.

      • Hey Steve, I’d say he answered the question just fine. Further more, you should just avoid computers. PERIOD. =P

    • I’d say Sam and Steve are the same person, have you bothered to read Leo’s ‘about’ or ‘blog’ pages? ( FYI Leo I 100% agree with the getting up early BS lol )

      lol this particular quote jumped out at me >>> “And when you do need to reach out for help, I want you to be able to ask the right questions in the right way, so you’ll get the answers you need. That’s where sneaking in some education comes in.”

      Just like my teachers would do to me at school and my mum at home, and just like I do now. I work in SEO and yes I could easily just fix my clients SEO problems and give ‘vague’ instructions so I hold all the power ( and the money ) most of my clients are 50+ and just want the problems fixed ASAP but I still always try and make them learn something, even if it’s minimal to most tech savy people but to them it creates confidence, that their brains are still switched ON and even though they are 50+ they just mastered something a 20 year old probably can’t even do > which in turn makes them VERY happy < these clients will stay with me for years.

      From personal experience clients who don't stick around ask the same questions over and over after I've already explained (in email) the solution to their problem 6 times, either they don't care, don't read or listen or would rather pay someone to over charge them and think for them – these people are unfortunately just lazy ( and no not too busy, half my clients are CEO's ) They would have been the kids at school who cheated on all their tests or paid someone else to do it for them, after college/ Uni if they even could be bothered showing up they'd be in a job that they are now incompetent of doing, constantly paranoid someone in their team who knows how to actually do their job will take their position – so these people ( that never really tried at anything ) then turn into the worst type of person – f$ckw.ts lol no, – 'Micro Managers'

      If you put all the pieces of a jig-saw puzzle together for someone else, what's the point? What does the other person walk away with? Nothing.

  22. I’ve got numerous upgraded versions of C++ on my system, seem every time I install or reinstall a newer version is installed. I also have several versions of C++ 2005, 2010. 2012 and 2015, I have 10 different X86, that’s 32 bit versions and 11 X64 64 bit versions. I under stand the necessity for having both a 32bit (X64) and a 64 bit (X64) but do I really need so many different updated version on one machine?
    BUT dose a particular program need C++ 2008 Redistributable X86.9.30729.17 or will it work with C++ 2008 Redistributable X86.30729.6161 the latest version

  23. “I have no idea if you need them. I have no idea if you need just one or both.”

    The why did you write this article? It’s useless. Do you REALLY get paid to write this stuff?

    • Poorly, I’m afraid. I wrote the article so that people wouldn’t feel bad about being confused themselves, and to advise them to take the safer step of leaving well enough alone by leaving the various versions installed. People have been known to bork their systems by randomly deleting things that it turns out they need.

      • Thanks for taking the time to give some sort of answer. You gave enough information of what they do and the risks involved of deleting them, so, I am taking your advice and leaving well alone.

    • Well Barbara If Leo tells you ” Yes delete that software” and you do and it all f$cks up – you’ll come screaming back to complain.

      If Leo tells you “No it’s probably not a good idea to delete that software” and you don’t but your computer still f$cks up – you’ll come back to complain.

      So he gave you Switzerland because he’s not a magician and can not teleport into your computer room ( well it has been 2 years maybe you can now Leo? lol ) and of course – you came back and complained. If you’re not tech savy that’s ok but maybe just try explaining this to Leo in a professional manner with manners – you’d be surprised at how far being nice will get you 😉

  24. can a virus ad like unibluespeedupmy compmputer be let in by any of these so called helpful new programs from any so called software providers.if so where is their security,it is impossible to get rid of these immbedded speedup so.licitation programs. thankyou for tour resonse

  25. “I have no idea if you need them. I have no idea if you need just one or both.
    In this case, it depends on the software on your machine. If the software that you’ve installed on your machine needs them … well, then you need them. If it doesn’t, then you might not.
    But given that they only appear on your machine if software that uses them is present1, I would expect that you probably do need them. Both.
    And leaving them in place is by far the safest thing to do.”
    Leo “has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. ”
    With 18 years as a programmer at MSFT, I would expect a more definitive answer than the above. I would suspect that you would need them if you were a software developer.

  26. From Microsoft Visual C website
    “The Microsoft Visual C++ 2005 Redistributable Package (x86) installs runtime components of Visual C++ Libraries required to run applications developed with Visual C++ on a computer that does not have Visual C++ 2005 installed.”

    So if you’re not a software developer and you don’t run or plan to run applications developed with Visual C++, you don’t need them.

    • As long as you KNOW which of your applications have been developed with Visual C++. They were put there for a reason, after all, typically by installing something that was developed with MSVC++.

    • When Leo says “I have no idea if you need them. “, he means you personally, not computer users in general. He doesn’t know what is on your machine. Some programs you have installed might require those. The only sure way to know would be to remove or rename those libraries and see if things stop working. If you do that, however, you might mess things up. It’s just not worth worrying about. Computer hard drives are so huge now, the space saved by removing them would be insignificant.

  27. I would like remove the VC++ 2005 redistributable because of Qualys Scan. Everytime i uninstall and reboot it, in the next day it shows up again. We have SQL Servers , .nets softs, Visual Studio in that server. We need to get rid of that becasue it is a level 5 vulnerability. Any ideas how to uninstall it. Thanks

  28. Great info Leo, good article, much appreciated. Anyways, I am here because I am wondering if I need to reinstall MVSC++ 2005 x64.

    I bought a Dell laptop with Win 7 x64 Premium 2 years ago, and I did a free upgrade to Win 10 before the cutoff, so now I have Win 10 Premium x64. Fast-forward about 6 months later (approx 6 months ago), apparently Windows Update installed a Win 7 update on my machine that had Win 10 on it. This COMPLETELY screwed my computer up to the point that I was forced to do a complete re-install of Win 10. Before I did it, it asked me if I wanted to save a list of installed programs ad I said “yes.” One of the programs listed was MS Visual C++2005 x64 redistributable. But, after I did the re-install, it was not re-installed.

    My question is whether or not I need it now. Is there a website or some other info source I can use to see if I need any of the MVSC++ for any of my programs?

  29. I’ve just completed reading the messages regarding Microsoft Visual C Redistributable. I have 3 versions of 2008 and one version for 2010. I also see there’s a download for a 2013 version available. My question would be: is there an advantage to adding the 2013 version?

  30. My laptop had win 7 premium x64 had 2005 MSVC++ installed. I upgraded to win 10 x64 premium and the 2005 MSVC++ was still there. However, I had to do a complete reinstall of my win 10 and the 2005 MSVC++ did not reinstall.

    Should I reinstall it or not?
    Should I get a newer version of it? (ie MSVC++ 2008 or 2012, …etc)

    • I wouldn’t do a thing until one of the programs you use stops working because it’s not there. You may not need it at all. There’s no way to easily know.

    • Concerning newer versions. They are not upgrades. They are run-time libraries, each made to work with a different version of C++.

  31. hi I have more than one of the same Visual C++ Redistributable programs on my computer the only differences that I can see are the last 11numbers. Same year and everything. Can any of them be uninstalled?

  32. OK after reading your articular how do i get back 2013 redistributable x64 to x86.., AvG, sum-mink or other .., which Ive just uninstalled !……….?
    because i don’t have the AVG installed ?

  33. Hi, I use the Driver Booster program which tells me that there are updates for the Microsoft redistributable programs on my computer but though I can find updates on the internet I’m not sure whether they are appropriate. Does Microsoft have a redistributable update utility which will check my computer and download any updates I need please? Thank you

  34. Hey, I deleted about three of the six redistributables (starting with the old ones-2005 first) that were on my windows 10 pro and there wasn’t any bad effects. Now that I read your forum, I’m glad that I left the rest. The purpose that i deleted them, someone online advised that it was a good way to remove those nasty windows notification messages. I was able to remove some of the notifications (not specifically from removing the redistributables) but by other measures, but I still get balloons that pop up from time to time in the right bottom corner of my desk top. Additionally, my login display has message that it wants me to install the latest update of windows when I don’t want to get involved with updates as my computer runs fine, I don’t need their automatic updates. I am still searching for how to completely delete and stop permanently all update messages and balloons, but I have not completely solved the problem yet, even though I applied a handful of online fixes so far.

  35. When I deleted the 2005 redistributable everything was OK, but when I got rid of the 2008 one I started to get much more spam in my emails.

  36. Ya I don’t wanna delete them all but I have 4 that are not from microsoft and the place that is listed doesn’t exist or can’t be found the problem is they are not running on an asigned licence and mypc has to do a repair every time I start it,so where do I go for drivers or do I delete these 4.

    • There’s really no way to say. I’d have to have a LOT more information about the specifics here. These aren’t “drivers” by the way, they’re just software used by other applications on your machine. I’d also have to know how you got C++ Redistributables that aren’t from Microsoft – it’s Microsoft that makes them.

  37. The standard response is ridiculous. If you cannot determine which program installed it… how can you be certain it is not a hack or virus of somekind?

    Hackers use the same code techniques as non-hackers. Are they seriously suggesting that there is no cause for alarm?

    When the Windows Registry became a place where code written in another character (kanji, cyrillic, martian) set could be secretly installed, hidden, made untouchable, made unviewable, then triggered, and deployed, executed, run freely over everything on the computer, executing in so many ways that there would be no way to stop it or prevent future intrusions, I think the story was the same. TRUST THE PROGRAMS.

    When the anti-virus and antispyware companies decided to not detect programs which had been categorized as malicious and exposed (and maybe removed), BUT WHEN BRANDED AND SOLD as parenting programs the programs where permitted to remain hidden. EVEN WHEN THOSE PROGRAMS FIRST STEP WAS TO DISABLE THE ANTIVIRUS AND SPYWARE PROGRAMS, those companies allowed it. NORTON was even advertised as a program which would protect the secretly stolen data.

    BUT it never stopped even there, they advertised to stalkers and jealous partners. Once again giving the keys to EVERYTHING over to irresponsible programming.

    SO WOULD SOMEONE TELL ME AGAIN WHY THE RIDICULOUS ANSWER IS quite clearly a script. Same response re[peated over and over even where the question is different.

    Microsoft sold out when it came to SECURITY for all computer users, and these are the tactics which attempt to convince to you ignore their involvement.

    The structure of the Local and Roaming Data folders is a similar nightmare of hundreds of empty folders. Folders which if you open them, promptly move their contents to another directory, (and sometimes right back again).

    Ever wonder why you don’t find tools for deciphering the registry hooks and all the connections which exist for WHAT PURPOSE?

    Ever wonder why the Registry permits YES to be No and No To Be Yes sometimes? There is a massive level of deception which can be performed by the Registry. It’s why a computer cannot be locked down or secured.

    There is NO SECURITY IN COMPUTERS. And it’s ridiculous responses like YOU NEED THEM ALL … MAYBE that enable the hackers and prevent the honest folks from having security.

  38. This is the first time I have managed to find a description of the purpose, usefulness (or not) and the why’s and wherefore’s of Microsoft Visual C++, etc., in plain and comprehensible language that anyone over the age of six could understand. Thank you, Leo.

  39. If you’re merely concerned with seemingly random Visual C++ redistributable files junking up the root of your C drive for no apparent reason, they’re safe to remove, as per the following link: https://support.microsoft.com/en-au/help/950683/vcredist-from-vc-2008-installs-temporary-files-in-root-directory

    Anything beyond those particular files, unless you know what you’re doing, you’re probably best leaving them alone (if you’re on this site, you probably don’t have sufficient knowledge to safely remove them. Sorry).

  40. I’m at the point where I am reckless and don’t really care if I destroy my laptop. I have a controlling ex-husband who would register my electronics (computer, laptop and phones) as his and enroll them in Enterprise, using my birth year as the name of the company. This would give him access to all my browsing activity, emails, etc. He, of course, denied knowing anything about computers even though he was administrative captain for CDF’s inmate program. DARPA would show up there at his place of employment so he had the opportunity to pick their brains – and he IS an opportunist. Anyway, I have tried to unenroll my computer but didn’t work. I assume he has it tied to my Microsoft and Google accounts (two separate Enterprise programs) and my phones are no different. How do I get out from under all this surveillance once and for all? Especially in light of the fact that he didn’t do it to see if I’m being unfaithful – he was doing it to see how much I knew about his deceptive activities. Can someone please help me? This has been going on for YEARS and I am at the end of a very tight rope.

    • Reinstalling Windows and all of your programs from scratch is the only 100% sure way to get rid of what he’s installed on your computer. I’d also open a new Microsoft (outlook.com) account for this machine to be sure he has no access to it. And change the passwords on all of your accounts, email, Facebook Amazon etc. check that the recovery email accounts and phone numbers are all yours.
      Take a system image backup before reinstalling to restore your personal files.
      How Do I Remove Malware (See the section “Surrender”)

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