How to delete SoftwareDistribution folder from a Windows 10 PC?

By Eunice Samson | October 7, 2019 |

greater than 5 minutes

Have you ever wondered what the SoftwareDistribution folder’s purpose is? You may have found this article because you have several questions about it.

Is the SoftwareDistribution folder useful? Can you remove it from your computer? Is it safe to delete this folder? Well, we are here to answer your questions.

It is worth noting that Windows uses this folder to store temporary files for installing the latest updates on your device. Remember that these updates are necessary for keeping your PC secure and in good shape. After all, Windows updates come with fixes for bugs and security patches. Managed by Windows Update Agent (WUAgent), the SoftwareDistribution folder can be found in the Windows directory.

Why Delete the SoftwareDistribution Folder?

In general, it is not necessary to empty the SoftwareDistribution folder. However, from time to time, there are instances wherein you’ll need to clear its contents. For example, you may find yourself struggling to update your operating system. In this kind of scenario, the update files in the SoftwareDistribution folder are likely incomplete or corrupt.

When you discover that Windows Update has started to malfunction, then it is vital for you to clean this folder. Eventually, the SoftwareDistribution folder will accumulate a lot of junk files that may affect your computer’s performance. Of course, you can open the folder and clear out its contents manually. However, if Windows Update keeps on showing you an error message, then the best course of action is to delete the SoftwareDistribution folder entirely.

Is There Any Harm in Deleting the SoftwareDistribution Folder?

Under normal circumstances, you shouldn’t do anything with the SoftwareDistribution folder. However, everything changes when you learn that there are synchronization issues with Windows Update or when the files in the folder have been corrupted. Do not worry because it is completely safe to get rid of the SoftwareDistribution folder.

That said, you should still take some precautions before deleting this folder. You must ensure that the root cause of the errors on your PC is Windows Update. So, when the update files are ready, your operating system will recreate the folder.

How to Delete the Software Distribution Folder on Windows 10

Whenever you decide to make changes to your system, it is essential that you create a restore point. This way, if anything goes wrong, you can always bring back your OS to a working state. So, follow the steps below:

  1. Go to your taskbar, then click the Search icon.
  2. Inside the Search box, type “Restore Point” (no quotes).
  3. Select Create a Restore Point from the results.
  4. Click the Create button.

Let your system create a restore point. It may take a couple of minutes for the process to complete.

After creating a restore point, you can now delete the SoftwareDistribution folder. To do that, you need to follow the instructions below:

  1. On your taskbar, right-click the Windows icon.
  2. Select Windows PowerShell (Admin) from the menu.

Note: You can also use an elevated form of Command Prompt for this method. To do that, you can type “Command Prompt” (no quotes) inside the Search box. Right-click Command Prompt from the results, then select Run as Administrator.

  1. This method requires you to stop the Windows Update and Background Intelligent Transfer services. So, once Command Prompt (Admin) is up, execute the following command lines:

net stop wuauserv

net stop bits

  1. Now, press Windows Key+E on your keyboard to open File Explorer.
  2. Navigate to this folder: C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution
  3. Delete the files in the folder.

Note: You won’t be able to get rid of files that are in use. When this happens, all you need to do is restart your computer. Once you’ve rebooted, you can go back to the SoftwareDistribution folder to delete its contents.

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  1. After deleting the files inside the SoftwareDistribution folder, execute the following command lines:

net start wuauserv

net start bits

  1. Note: These commands will restart the Windows Update and Background Intelligent Transfer services.

How to Clear the SoftwareDistribution Folder on Windows 10: Alternative Method

  1. On your keyboard, press Windows Key+R.
  2. Once the Run dialog box is up, type “services.msc” (no quotes), then hit Enter.
  3. On the Services window, look for the Windows Update service. Right-click it, then select Stop from the options.
  4. Now, press Windows Key+E on your keyboard to open File Explorer. Once you’ve done that, navigate to this location:

C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution

  1. Select all the files and folders inside the SoftwareDistribution folder.
  2. Go back to the Services window, then right-click the Windows Update service again. Select Start from the context menu.

Renaming the SoftwareDistribution Folder

Some users are worried about removing the SoftwareDistribution folder. After all, it is an essential part of Windows Update. If you share the same sentiment, then we suggest that you can rename the folder. Once you’ve done this, your operating system will create a new SoftwareDistribution folder automatically for downloading available updates. Here are the steps:

  1. Press Windows Key+X on your keyboard, then select Command Prompt (Admin).

Note: If Command Prompt (Admin) is not available, you can click Windows PowerShell (Admin).

  1. There are several Windows Update services that you need to stop. Execute the following command lines one by one:

net stop wuauserv

net stop cryptSvc

net stop bits

net stop msiserver

  1. The next step is renaming the SoftwareDistribution folder. Execute the command lines below:

ren C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution SoftwareDistribution.old

ren C:\Windows\System32\catroot2 catroot2.old

  1. Finally, you can restart the Windows Update services that you stopped earlier. To do that, you need to execute the following command lines one by one:

net start wuauserv

net start cryptSvc

net start bits

net start msiserver

Were you able to rename the SoftwareDistribution folder, using the steps we shared? If it remains the same, we recommend that you boot into Safe mode, then change the name of the folder to SoftwareDistribution.old.

Do not worry about doing anything damaging to your computer. After all, this process only involves removing the historical information of the folder. Deleting the SoftwareDistribution folder will remove the Windows Update history data from your PC. So, expect for the update process to take more time that it used to, especially since WUAgent will have to check and create the Datastore information.

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Let us know how we can improve this article by sharing your suggestions in the comments below!

Fed up with your slow PC? Tired of waiting for Windows to start up? Take a look at the most common reasons behind poor performance and the best ways to deal with them here.
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