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Standard User meditator
(fountain of knowledge) Wed 28-Mar-12 12:43:37
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Anyone an expert on Windows's Software Distribution folder?


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The Software Distribution folder in Windows XP (C:\Windows\Software Distribution) - and probably other more-recent versions of Windows - is involved in the Windows Update mechanism. If you opt to have 'Automatic Updates' turned on in Windows and therefore have the OS automatically updated in the background, the downloaded files get temporarily loaded into the Software Distribution folder. A WU Installer then installs each update.

I myself never normally have Automatic Updates turned on in Windows, as I prefer to select the Custom install at the WU website and so therefore vett each update before deciding to download it or not. However, a recent glitch in my usage did turn AU on and consequently a whole bunch of unvetted updates were automatically downloaded to that folder. I managed to turn off AU and stopped the process before they then had a chance to install.

Although each of these unvetted files is stored there in what appears to be an encrypted form, it is possible by some delving to identify by their KB nos. most of the downloads in that folder, though you can't actually get at the raw file (as it were).

The situation I now have therefore is that the WU website is offering me those very updates but that the download time for each is zero. Figures. This unfortunately is beside the point, as what I want is to somehow put them back on to the WU website (so that I can then decide afresh which ones I want to download and install). The fact that they're already on my hard drive makes me feel uneasy, as I know that a good few of them I definitely don't want and if they got installed would foul up my PC in a big way. Besides, this bunch is taking up quite a bit of space, some 800MB or so, would you believe!

So, the question is, How can I remove those downloads from that folder in a sanitary way, so as not to corrupt the WU process or Windows generally? In other Googled-for forums, the advice has been to just delete all of the subfolder called Download. However, that subfolder contains other permanently-required uninstall files, as well as the update logs, so doing that is risky, as it may well lead to everything getting out of sync and/or the user never being offered that group of updates ever again.

So, is there a way of removing the downloaded-but-as-yet-not-installed updates, and effectively putting them back on to the WU server? As I say, I'd rather the unrequired ones be there, rather than on my hard drive. In principle, this seems to be such a simple requirement but is one that clearly needs to be treated with caution.
Standard User XRaySpeX
(eat-sleep-adslguide) Wed 28-Mar-12 18:24:23
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Re: Anyone an expert on Windows's Software Distribution fold


[re: meditator] [link to this post]
 
The C:\WINDOWS\SoftwareDistribution\Download folder is used by WU however you configure your updates. e,g. Auto D/Load but let me choose to install.

However you can safely delete the Contents of the Download folder (only) and WU will leave those that have not yet been installed as pending from the WU site. I generally empty this folder after all the updates it contains have been installed.

There are no other permanently-required uninstall files, as well as the update logs in it as you seem to believe. Those are actually in the Windows top-level folder, but that's another story

Another method to click on the the "Updates are Ready" Shield icon, do Custom Install, untick all those items you don't want and then click Close. It will warn you it is hiding those items; you can later unhide them on the WU site, Then empty the Download folder.

1999: Freeserve 48K Dial-Up => 2005: Wanadoo 1 Meg BB => 2007: Orange 2 Meg BB => 2008: Orange 8 Meg LLU => 2010: Orange 16 Meg LLU => 2011: Orange 19 Meg WBC
Standard User meditator
(fountain of knowledge) Thu 29-Mar-12 12:12:24
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Re: Anyone an expert on Windows's Software Distribution fold


[re: XRaySpeX] [link to this post]
 
Many thanks for your response, XRaySpex.

With this, it's important that we don't misunderstand (even slightly) what either of us are saying. So, just to assure myself, let me ask you, 'Am I correct in you telling me that if I delete the entire contents of the Download folder, WU will (at the WU website) then subsequently present to me in the Custom install way all of the outstanding updates, including those that were previously awaiting in the Download folder and which I'll have just deleted?' It's not that I just want to delete per se those updates from that folder, it's more that I want a second opportunity to possibly download one or two of them afresh, from the website. When they got erroneously downloaded I'd not had time to vett them.

Because of the way in which you yourself manage the contents of that folder, yours might look a little different at present. But if you open any of the subfolders of those encrypted contents in Download, you'll find not only the files spuninst.exe and update.exe but also a plethora of inf and dll files. Elsewhere in Software Distribution are the log files, which as I understand it WU refers to each time you complete a session of updates.

I don't normally opt to be warned of available updates, so I don't see the shield to which you've referred. Instead, I just visit the WU website each month and let WU do the usual scan of my PC.

Addendum: I've discovered that the logs are in the top-level directory of the Software Distribution folder, in a folder called ReportingEvents.log.

I've also now noticed that there's an additional subfolder that's appeared in Download, called Install. It contains an executable called AM Delta Patch 2. I believe this to be a genuine Microsoft Security Essentials definition (I use MSE). So, what should I do with it? Delete it also, or leave it?

If I go ahead and delete Download (or most of it), as you've advised, I'll first of all go to Services and turn off Automatic Updates and BITS. Then I'll turn them back on afterward. After what's happened, I want to play safe.

BTW, what about Windows Registry in this context? Surely, the Registry gets settings added to it during these updates, doesn't it? If so, won't they end up wrongly referenced?

Edited by meditator (Thu 29-Mar-12 15:25:43)


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Standard User XRaySpeX
(eat-sleep-adslguide) Thu 29-Mar-12 15:36:56
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Re: Anyone an expert on Windows's Software Distribution fold


[re: meditator] [link to this post]
 
In reply to a post by meditator:
'Am I correct in you telling me that if I delete the entire contents of the Download folder, WU will (at the WU website) then subsequently present to me in the Custom install way all of the outstanding updates, including those that were previously awaiting in the Download folder and which I'll have just deleted?'
Yes! It is not until WU on PC reports back to WU website that an update has been installed that WU website removes it from its list of outstanding.

If you are concerned, why not first take a back-up of Download's contents before deleting them? Then consult WU website and see they are still listed. You can always restore back-up and get back to status quo if you find otherwise, which you won't.

After an WU on XP don't you have within \Windows folders $UninstallKB#####" and files KB####.log? They are the ones for reversing and logging any updates. I don't have any pending updates at the mo' to see what you are getting at but I will look next time I have.
Elsewhere in Software Distribution are the log files
You mean C:\WINDOWS\SoftwareDistribution\DataStore\Logs? Don't touch those. They are for WU keeping track of itself.

Instead of having to go to WU website regularly, wouldn't it be easier and clearer to turn on Auto Updates but you choose when to install them? You can still review them but you will be more in control.

1999: Freeserve 48K Dial-Up => 2005: Wanadoo 1 Meg BB => 2007: Orange 2 Meg BB => 2008: Orange 8 Meg LLU => 2010: Orange 16 Meg LLU => 2011: Orange 19 Meg WBC
Standard User XRaySpeX
(eat-sleep-adslguide) Thu 29-Mar-12 15:51:08
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Re: Anyone an expert on Windows's Software Distribution fold


[re: meditator] [link to this post]
 
Addenda

ReportingEvents.log: There is also one in \WINDOWS. They are just past history of WU itself. If you delete them they will just be recreated afresh from present. I don't bother.

MSE Install: The same goes for that. You should be able to still see it on WU Website. Another reason to use Auto D/Load but don't install.

Registry: Nothing in Registry other than keeping track of WU itself. State of updates is kept in all those Download files.

1999: Freeserve 48K Dial-Up => 2005: Wanadoo 1 Meg BB => 2007: Orange 2 Meg BB => 2008: Orange 8 Meg LLU => 2010: Orange 16 Meg LLU => 2011: Orange 19 Meg WBC
Standard User meditator
(fountain of knowledge) Thu 29-Mar-12 16:25:37
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Re: Anyone an expert on Windows's Software Distribution fold


[re: XRaySpeX] [link to this post]
 
You advised that I perhaps make a backup of the Download folder beforehand. What exactly had you in mind there? It's not as if I could rename each content with, say, a bak extension, because none of the encrypted contents have extensions! I've been intending, in fact, to backup my entire partition, just in case, but that's a fairly big job. It's just that I've wondered what you meant by 'just back up Download'.

In the top-level WINDOWS folder, there's simply the long coloured list of KB unInstall files - relating to ones that have been successfully installed. There are no log files there, as far as I can see. BTW, this is XP, so the way files are used in this area might differ from OS to OS.

Currently, in my Download folder there are three subfolders: SP3GDR, SP3QFE and Update. All those three contain unknown inf, txt, exe, ver, dll, cnv and wpc files. This is why I wonder whether clearing out Download might screw up Windows. On the other hand, those particular files might be re-generated by WU, for all I know, the next time I download and install some Windows updates.

Edited by meditator (Thu 29-Mar-12 16:47:20)

Standard User XRaySpeX
(eat-sleep-adslguide) Thu 29-Mar-12 17:23:58
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Re: Anyone an expert on Windows's Software Distribution fold


[re: meditator] [link to this post]
 
I meant copy/move the complete contents, w/out renaming, to a separate folder of your own, which you may have to create. Make sure you have got Win Explorer to show all system & hidden files.

I am talking XP exclusively; I also have XP.

1999: Freeserve 48K Dial-Up => 2005: Wanadoo 1 Meg BB => 2007: Orange 2 Meg BB => 2008: Orange 8 Meg LLU => 2010: Orange 16 Meg LLU => 2011: Orange 19 Meg WBC
Standard User meditator
(fountain of knowledge) Thu 29-Mar-12 20:02:12
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Re: Anyone an expert on Windows's Software Distribution fold


[re: XRaySpeX] [link to this post]
 
I'll give it a go tomorrow, and then after that let you know how I got on.
Standard User meditator
(fountain of knowledge) Fri 30-Mar-12 10:43:32
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Re: Anyone an expert on Windows's Software Distribution fold


[re: meditator] [link to this post]
 
XRaySpex,

I'm afraid you were wrong. Deleting the contents of Download does not effectively put the updates back on to the WU server. I've performed the deletion but the WU website is still listing those particular updates as having already been downloaded and ready to install. So, as far as WU is concerned, it still thinks they're on my PC.

Perhaps I should have temporarily disabled my Firewall and antivirus?

Other than the sorts of files I've already mentioned, there were no system files in Download, as seen with them exposed via the Folder Options/View settings.

I deleted the contents to the Recycle Bin. It seemed just as good as anywhere else, as you can, if necessary, restore them from there. Looks like I'm going to have to do that.

I was possibly correct earlier in presuming that the Windows Registry would keep an eye on where installed and non-installed reside, and that the WU website refers to such settings every time the PC is scanned by WU. Can't think of any other explanation, though as I said earlier the Download folder contains more than just the encrypted 'files'. It contains other subfolders which themselves have a whole mix of inf, txt, exe, ver,dll, cnv and wpc files in them of which, who knows, some may be shared files and so might need to be used elsewhere.

Edited by meditator (Fri 30-Mar-12 11:11:04)

Standard User XRaySpeX
(eat-sleep-adslguide) Fri 30-Mar-12 14:03:05
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Re: Anyone an expert on Windows's Software Distribution fold


[re: meditator] [link to this post]
 
In reply to a post by meditator:
the WU website is still listing those particular updates as having already been downloaded and ready to install. So, as far as WU is concerned, it still thinks they're on my PC.
You're right (partially) smile. WU site does get a bit confused by what we did and still thinks they are d/loaded and ready to install. But the important thing is that as far as WU is concerned they are still pending for install.

If you now try to install them from WU site it does fail (cuz the files are no longer on PC). However if you now get WU site to rescan for the latest updates, it does find them as not d/loaded but able to install. So back to how you wanted it. They can now be installed successfully.

I have just tried this with my only outstanding update, for Win Defender, and all worked OK and as expected.

1999: Freeserve 48K Dial-Up => 2005: Wanadoo 1 Meg BB => 2007: Orange 2 Meg BB => 2008: Orange 8 Meg LLU => 2010: Orange 16 Meg LLU => 2011: Orange 19 Meg WBC
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