Home > Uncategorized > How to delete left-over folders after Windows Update

How to delete left-over folders after Windows Update

Sometimes Windows Update leaves folders behind with long and meaningless names, and it is not always possible to delete them from Windows Explorer. So I found this solution that always works.

I’m going to pretend that the name of the folder we want to delete is abc123; replace that with the actual folder name. You can save yourself a lot of typing by using the TAB key; when typing a command you can just enter the first two or three characters of the folder name and then press TAB. You need to press ENTER after typing each command. Double-check each command (and in particular make sure you haven’t accidentally specified a folder you don’t want deleted!) before pressing ENTER.

Start by opening an administrative command prompt. You do this by clicking on the Start Menu, typing cmd and pressing CONTROL-SHIFT-ENTER. You should get a confirmation prompt, and might need to enter an administrative password. Then, in the command prompt:

cd /d c:\
dir /ad

You should see a list of folders, including the folders you want to delete as well as various Windows folders such as Program Files and Users.

md empty
robocopy /e /purge /b empty abc123

What we’ve done here is created an empty folder and told Robocopy to copy it over top of the folder we’re trying to delete. The /purge tells Robocopy to delete the files and the /b tells Robocopy to bypass file security. Robocopy will list the files in the folder as it deletes them, and will also produce a summary at the end showing how many files were deleted (look for the column titled Extras).

Repeat the robocopy command for each of the folders you want to delete. You don’t need to repeat the md command each time.

Robocopy won’t remove the folder itself, so we will do that separately:

takeown /F abc123
icacls abc123 /grant administrators:F
rd abc123

The first command takes ownership of the folder so that we can change the permissions, the second gives us permission to remove it, and the last line removes it. Repeat these three commands for each folder you want to delete.

Finally, we remove the empty folder we created, since we don’t need it any more:

rd empty

Hope this helps.


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