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Why Might an Update Take a Large Amount of Space?

Question: My laptop runs Windows 7. And I’ve got a 500 GB hard drive. I recently updated my Internet Explorer from IE9 to IE10. Now earlier, I wrote down the amount of space that was available or actually used on my hard drive. After I installed IE10, I looked at it again. And it took a full 1 GB more than before.  Is it really possible that this update has cost me 1 GB of space? Is it really possible that this update was that big?

Well, yes and no. There’s a lot more to updating than just updating. I know that sounds a little wishy-washy and I’ll try and explain what that means.

When Windows updates something important, especially something as important as Internet Explorer, things get complicated very quickly.

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Backup and Temporary files

The first thing that comes to mind is that it’s very possible that the files that make up IE9, the previous version, are still on your machine. Those are left specifically so that if you want to uninstall IE10, you can. The IE9 files were never removed, just set aside.

The other issue (or one of the other issues) is that the installer itself and the other tools that were used to either download and/or perform the upgrade and installation were also still left on your machine, possibly as part of this ability to uninstall.

Internet ExplorerTemporary files might also be left over. In other words, as you download these files and run the installation temporary files might get created and and left behind. It’s actually not that uncommon for an installation programs to be a little bit less than completely fastidious about cleaning up after themselves.

On almost any machine, I think you’ll find that there are often a lot of files left in the Windows temporary folder and in other temporary folders that might be littered around your machine.

How to clean them

Could it all accumulate to be about a gigabyte? That actually doesn’t surprise me if you add all of those things together:

  • Another copy of the browser, not replacing in terms of hard disk but actually taking up additional space on your hard disk
  • The temporary files
  • The tools that were used to actually perform the upgrade and the installation

I could see it get up to about a gigabyte.

One thing I would consider having you do is to run CCleaner, which will clean up all of the temporary files that it can find if you elect to let it. The reason it comes to mind immediately is because of the temporary file issue that I mentioned. You may be surprised at the amount of space it cleans up.

Another thing might be to look in Control Panel’s “Programs” section to see if the old version is listed and able to actually be uninstalled. If it is that should also recover some disk space. In reality I’d recommend leaving it there, simply to preserve your ability to uninstall.

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2 comments on “Why Might an Update Take a Large Amount of Space?”

  1. One way to reclaim a lot of space is to freeze service packs. Installing a Windows OS service pack is a time consuming process and it can leave a lot of “undo” files behind in the even that you want to uninstall the service pack (a very remote possibility). Freezing the service pack removes these “undo” files. You can no longer uninstall the service pack but you gain in disk space. To do the freeze you run DISM.EXE (comes with Windows). You must run this from the command line as Administrator. The command line is

    DISM /online /Cleanup-Image /SpSuperseded

    Once you start this command, go away and have a cup of coffee or two. I don’t recall how long it takes to run but remember that patience is a virtue. And as Douglas Adams said, “Don’t panic”.


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