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  • How to delete driver updates downloaded by Windows Update but not installed

    Home Forums AskWoody support Windows Windows 10 Windows 10 version 20H2 – October 2020 Update How to delete driver updates downloaded by Windows Update but not installed

    • Author
      • EricB
        AskWoody Plus

        When I using my new Dell system I set it to a metered connection.  Unfortunately, Windows Update ran before I fully understood the guidance in AKB2000016 and so it downloaded various drivers.  I did not install them.  Subsequently I used group policy to enable “Do not include drivers with Windows Updates” and they are no longer offered by WU.  I used Dell’s update tool for driver updates.

        However, the old WU driver downloads are shown by wushowhide and the downloaded files remain in the SoftwareDistribution store in the Windows folder.

        How can I delete these unwanted WU driver downloads?

      • #2361951
        AskWoody MVP

        I’d image the OS first, then in Services whilst offline, STOP these:
        Windows Update
        Background Intelligent Transfer Service
        Cryptographic Services

        Then access the SoftwareDistribution store via explorer and manually delete the contents of that folder. Once this is done, Restart the 3 services that were stopped and leave it at that. The SoftwareDistribution Store will re-populate when back online, without the downloaded stuff you didn’t want.

        W10, the itch you simply cannot scratch!
        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2362093
        AskWoody Lounger

        Actually, the downloaded updates are stored in the C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\Download folder and they can be deleted without needing to stop any of those services.

        • Deleted all the contents of the downloads folder “except” for the SharedFileCache folder.
        • Then delete the contents of the SharedFileCache folder.

        As noted above, when you restart Windows, it’ll automatically restore any info required in those folders for the installed updates.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2362140
        AskWoody Plus

        Thanks to both Microfix and Alejr for your responses to my question.  Unfortunately, I don’t know enough to make an informed choice between the two approaches.

        Should both suggested solutions bring my system to the same state after Windows repopulates the SoftwareDistribution folder/sub-folders?  Or is there a difference between the two approaches of which I should be aware?

      • #2362219
        AskWoody Lounger

        Either one will restore any missing content in the SoftwareDistribution folder after you reboot.

        The difference is…

        If you delete the entire SoftwareDistribution folder, you must stop those services first because “parts” of that the folder are “in-use” while they’re running. Also, when Windows reboots, View update history will be empty (i.e. it won’t list any installed updates.) The updates are still installed, but to see them you’ll have to go to Programs and Features in the control panel and select “View installed updates”.

        You can delete the Download folder contents without needing to stop any services because its contents aren’t “in-use” by those services. Also, after Windows reboots, the View update history will still be there for any previously installed updates.

        The update history is located in the DataStore folder of SoftwareDistribution which is why the first method clears the history while the second one doesn’t.

        • #2362357
          AskWoody Plus

          I appreciate the clarification.  Should I take the system off-line before clearing the content of SoftwareDistribution\Download as suggested?

      • #2362374
        AskWoody Lounger

        I’ve always left mine on-line but it doesn’t really matter whether it’s on-line or off-line for either procedure.


        The second method will only clear updates that have been downloaded but not installed.

        The first method resets Windows update as if no updates have ever been installed by clearing everything. It’s one of the last recommendations for getting updates to install when other methods of fixing them (i.e. DISM, SFC, etc.) don’t work. It basically allows you to try a “fresh” install of a possibly corrupted update by removing everything and then downloading a new copy of the update.

      • #2362385
        AskWoody Plus

        Well, I tried Alejr’s approach to clearing the SoftwareDistribution\Download folder.  After restarting the system wushowhide continues to see the uninstalled driver updates for which downloads were deleted.

        I’ll wait until the next time Windows Update runs on its own and then check again to see what is in the SoftwareDistribution\Download folder and what is reported by wushowhide.

      • #2362597
        AskWoody Lounger

        From your reply, it seems you don’t really understand how wushowhide works.

        If there’s an update you don’t want to be downloaded and installed, then you use wushowhide to hide it (BTW, updates can’t be hidden until they show up in the “Updates are available” list on the Windows update screen.)

        Once an update has been hidden, Windows update will ignore it when it performs new update checks.

        • Note: a hidden update will still show up in the “Updates are available” list until a new update check is performed and that can sometimes take a few days. Do not click the download button until that happens or that particular update will be downloaded & installed.

        So, an update listed as hidden in wushowhide (like your drivers) doesn’t mean it’s been downloaded to your PC, it means Windows update has been told to ignore it when it performs its update checks.

        Deleting the contents of the SoftwareDistribution folder using either of the above methods doesn’t change what updates are listed as hidden in wushowhide. And it shouldn’t, because you still want Windows update to ignore those particular updates.

        • #2362600
          AskWoody Plus

          Windows Update downloaded various drivers before I enabled the group policy “Do not include drivers with Windows Updates”.  These updates were not installed.  I did not hide these updates using wushowhide.  I enabled the group policy to omit driver updates and waited for Windows Update to run again on its own.  When it did, the driver updates were no longer offered.  However, the downloads were still in the SoftwareDistribution\Download folder and enumerated by wushowhide.  I have deleted the downloads as described above.

          From what you describe wushowhide will continue to show these driver updates even though they are not offered by Windows Update due to the enabling of the group policy setting.  I expect that there would not be a need to hide such drivers using wushowhide since group policy prohibits them and they are not offered by Windows Update.  Does this make sense?

      • #2362642
        AskWoody Lounger

        Not sure how wushowhide keeps track of the updates it hides but, from my own experience using it, suspect once an update’s been hidden, it’ll remain in the list of hidden updates until its removed by unhiding it (i.e. select to show it.)

        Remember, wushowhide doesn’t actually track whether an update is or isn’t present on your PC. All it does is tell Windows update to either ignore (hide) or not ignore (show) that update when it performs its update check.

        Since you deleted the downloaded driver updates and have the group policy set to not include driver updates, you should be able to now “show” those updates and Windows won’t try to download them again because they’ll still be blocked by the Group policy.

        As to whether or not the updates will disappear from wushowhide after you show them…

        If seems no one (except probably whomever at Microsoft designed it) really understands exactly how it does what it does so, your guess is as good as mine.

        • #2362649
          AskWoody Plus

          I never used wushowhide to “hide” the driver updates.

          Windows Update has now run again.  No driver updates are offered and the system is up to date.

          Running wushowhide and clicking on Hide updates will enumerate the drivers updates that were never installed and are not offered through Windows Update due to group policy.

          I don’t think its necessary to use wushowhide to “hide” them.

          Thanks again for your comments and suggestions.

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