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How to Change the Destination File for Windows Updates

written by: Lashan Clarke•edited by: Bill Bunter•updated: 8/30/2010

This article will discuss how to change the destination file for Windows Updates temporarily. Windows Update is a service by Microsoft that allows systems to either manually or automatically download updates for their operating system

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    An Introduction To Windows Updates

    How to change the destination file for Windows Updates is a particular problem that arises for some people. Windows Update is a service by Microsoft that allows systems to either manually or automatically download updates for their operating system. It is mainly useful for downloading critical updates and other security fields. In the default, the operating system will create temporary files in which to store the updates before they are installed. For some users, this is not ideal and would prefer to change the destination that the windows update files are stored in.

    The main destination file for windows update is usually C:\windows\msdownload.tmp as the download folder. In versions of Vistas, it can be accessed by visiting the folder C:\windows\softwaredistribution\download. The files in XP will be stored with the prefix $Nt in front and have been compressed. These update files are stored in a temporary folder in case there is a problem with downloading. It is possible to change the destination file by allowing all updates to be installed into one folder for easy removal.

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    Temporarily Change Destination Drive

    Those technical enough can go through the process of mounting a virtual hard drive and having the updates stored here. This is another easy way to change the destination is to use the /d:path command. This command is mainly for service pack updates and the “path" command should specify where the windows updates files should be stored. Normally the default of this is %systemdrive\$Ntservicepackunistall.

    Another version of this command can unpack the files with having it installed on the computer. The command line for this is /extract [:path]. The path command does not have to be initially included, as the user will be prompted for the destination to unpack the files. Another version is using /S instead of /extract in newer versions. These commands should be typed in with update.exe at the command prompt line.

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    In Conclusion

    If the reason you would like to change the destination folder for windows update is a result to increase space on the disk, and have the updated files stored on a partition, then there is another solution available. Instead of just deleting the compressed files manually, the software Windows Update Remover can be obtained as freeware from this Web site: http://www.tech-pro.net/windows-update-remover.html. It allows users to either delete an installed update, or uninstall the update.