Recovering Disk Space on Windows Servers Follow

Introduction

This document describes the various locations and actions that can be taken to recovery disk space on Windows Servers. This includes clearing out temporary files, Recycle Bins and QuickBooks update cache files.

Throughout this document, unless otherwise stated, "Windows Server 2003" refers to both Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2003 R2 and "Windows Server 2008" refers to both Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

On either Windows Server 2003 or Windows Server 2008, many of the directories that are mentioned within this document are marked as hidden, system and/or protected within Windows. Windows Explorer needs to be configured to show those specific file types.

What Not Do To

While it may be tempting to use the Disk Cleanup feature that comes with Windows Server 2003, the default settings that are used can have an adverse effect on the performance of virtual machines. One of those settings is to use NTFS compression on infrequently accessed files. Using NTFS compression on files does save on disk space, but it not only leads to further file system fragmentation (a concern more for physical servers and less so for virtual machines running on a RAID or SAN-hosted volume) but will slow down read and write operations to the file when it does get accessed.

Although this is not directly related to recovering disk space, but do not run or schedule disk defragmentation jobs on virtual machines (particularly those that use storage thin-provisioning).

Also, do not manually delete any files or directories within the following paths:

  • C:\MSOCache
  • C:\RECOVERY
  • C:\WINDOWS\Installer
  • C:\WINDOWS\SchCache
  • C:\WINDOWS\WinSxS

Common Locations for Disk Space Hogs

Clearing Out Recycle Bins

Under Windows Server 2003, all of the users' Recycle Bin directories are stored under a hidden and protected directory, C:\RECYCLER. To clear out all of the Recycle Bins, browse to that directory and delete all of the items within the directory. Do not delete C:\RECYCLER.

Under Windows Server 2008, the user Recycle Bins are located under a hidden and protected directory, C:\$Recycle.Bin. The items within that directory can be deleted, but do not delete C:\$Recycle.Bin.

Clearing Out Windows Update Cache and Log Files

The Windows Update service will generally leave behind copies of the patches and definition updates under C:\WINDOWS\SoftwareDistribution\Download and can be deleted once the patches and updates have been installed. On Windows Server 2003 servers, installation log files are created and stored under C:\WINDOWS and are named, "KB*.log", "msxml4-*.log" and "msxml6-*.log".

On Windows 2008 and servers that use SCCM, update files can be cached, and should be cleared using the following steps:  (From http://superuser.com/questions/786288/what-is-in-c-ccmcache)

The ccmcache folder is used by System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) client. This is where files downloaded by SCCM are stored. SCCM is an enterprise software management system used in many Windows environment, and provides operating system and software deployment services, remote management, reporting services, etc. You will typically only find this folder on systems in a managed enterprise environment.

SCCM caches files used for software deployment in the ccmcache folder. This may include software packages which are automatically installed on your machine, some types of software updates, etc. Files are not automatically removed from the ccmcache folder after they are used, but they are marked as being eligible for deletion. You should not manually delete files in this folder as you may accidentally delete something which has not been used yet. You should definitely not remove the folder altogether, as this would break SCCM and you would cease to automatically receive software packages from your network administrator.

You should be able to reduce the size of this folder using the ConfigMgr Control Panel. This will require local administrator privileges. To do this:

  • Open "Configuration Manager Properties" in the control panel. You may need to change the control panel to "icon view" instead of "category view".
  • Go to the "cache" tab
  • Click "Configure Settings" and acknowledge the UAC Prompt if prompted
  • The "Delete Files" button should become available. Click this button to clear files. It will automatically keep any files which should not be deleted.

Clearing Out Windows and Users Temporary Files

For all Windows Server versions, the system-wide Windows temporary files are stored under C:\WINDOWS\Temp and can be deleted. Please note that some files and directories will have active file locks and cannot be deleted.

For individual user temporary files, those are located under C:\Documents and Settings\<User Logon Name>\Local Settings\Temp on servers running Windows Server 2003 and under C:\Users\<User Logon Name>\AppData\Local\Temp on servers running Windows Server 2008. In either case, the "Local Settings" and "AppData" directories are hidden.

Clearing Out User Temporary Internet Files

Although the LX Online users have a Group Policy entry that forces Internet Explorer to clear out Internet Explorer's cache (also called "Temporary Internet Files") upon exit, there may be times that this does not happen (usually due to Internet Explorer crashing or the processes are abruptly killed upon log off or server reboot/shutdown). Microsoft Office will also use the same directory structure to store its cached files.

The location of the Temporary Internet Files on a Windows Server 2003 server is C:\Documents and Settings\<User Logon Name>\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files and C:\Users\<User Logon Name>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files on Windows Server 2008 servers.

Within that directory, Internet Explorer stores its cache under "Content.IE5" and Microsoft Office applications will store its cache files under "Content.MSO". Please note that either cache directories will not appear within Internet Explorer under the current user's profile. To view the contents of either cache directories, the entire path has to be entered into the Windows Explorer address bar.

To clear out all Temporary Internet Files for all user profiles on the server, run one of the two following commands from a Command Prompt window (first one is for servers running Windows Server 2003 and the second is for servers running Windows Server 2008 and newer):

cd "\Documents and Settings" & forfiles /s /m "Temporary*" /C "cmd /c del /s /q @path"

cd \Users & forfiles /s /m "Temporary*" /C "cmd /c del /s /q @path"

Internet Explorer Session Recovery Files

On newer versions of Windows and Internet Explorer, Internet Explorer will write out files containing various browser state and metadata information out to the user’s local profile to help recover/restart IE sessions in case of a browser hang or crash. Even though a GPO has been set up to limit the number of such files created, the files will eventually be created and not cleaned up. Those files live under the following directories depending on the version of Windows: C:\Users\<User Logon Name>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Recovery\High\Active

Clearing Out Windows Error Reporting Support Bundles

When an application or service crashes and Windows Error Reporting picks up on the crash, it will generate a "support bundle" package that it will then submit to Microsoft upon request. If a submission request is not completed, the bundle is often left on the drive and not deleted.

The support bundles can be created and placed under various locations. The system-level location is C:\WINDOWS\PCHealth\ErrorRep\QSignoff or C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\WER for Windows Server 2008 and newer, and the user-specific location for those files is within the user temporary files directory. Another user-specific location in which the support bundles can be stored is C:\Documents and Settings\<User Logon Name>\Local Settings\Application Data\PCHealth\ErrorRep\QSignoff for Windows Server 2003 and C:\Users\<User Logon Name>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\WER for Windows Server 2008.

There may also be files located under C:\WINDOWS\PCHealth\ErrorRep\UserDumps that need to be cleaned out.

Windows Memory Dump Files

When a Windows server encounters a Blue Screen of Death or a core service crashes, a memory dump file is generally created as a .DMP file under C:\WINDOWS or under C:\WINDOWS\minidump. Such files can safely be deleted.

TempAttach Files

On some LX online servers used by customers that make heavy use of a DAFA.DAT (LX attachment) file, there may be multiple instances of the extracted file living in various user profile directories, be it C:\Documents and Settings\<User Logon Name>\Application Data\TempAttach or C:\Users\<User Logon Name>\AppData\{Local,Roaming}\TempAttach. These directories can be removed.

X-Charge Backup Files

C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\CAM Commerce Solutions\X-Charge\Backup

Or

C:\ProgramData\CAM Commerce Solutions\X-Charge\Backup

QuickBooks Update Cache Files

When QuickBooks is updated on a server, the update process does not automatically delete the downloaded patch files from the server. Instead, the files have to be manually deleted. These update files can be located under several directories, depending on which version and edition of QuickBooks is installed. In all cases, the base directory for the update cache directories are located under C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Intuit\QuickBooks <Version>\Components on Windows Server 2003 and C:\ProgramData\Intuit\QuickBooks <Version>\Components on Windows Server 2008.

Under either of those directories, there are several files and directories that can be deleted:

  • DownloadQB<ID>\Patch\*_msp.dat
  • DownloadQB<ID>\Patch\.update\
  • DownloadQB<ID>\EPatch\*_map.dat
  • DownloadQB<ID>\EPatch\.update\
  • DownloadQB<ID>\FPatch\*_map.dat
  • DownloadQB<ID>\FPatch\.update\
  • QBUpdateCache\Patch\*.qbc
  • QBUpdateCache\EPatch\*.qbc
  • QBUpdateCache\FPatch\*.qbc

The directory paths containing "EPatch" only exist on installations of QuickBooks Enterprise while the directory paths containing "Patch" only exist on standard installations of QuickBooks. The "<ID>" is unique to each version (not edition or installation) of QuickBooks.

QuickBooks Auto Backup and Auto Data Recovery Backup Files

On certain versions of QuickBooks, the company files are automatically backed up on a regular basis in case the file gets corrupted during an active session of QuickBooks. Generally, two copies of backup files are kept under C:\GTS\ACCDATA\QuickBooksAutoDataRecovery.

Older versions of QuickBooks can also be configured to automatically create backup files as part of a job. Those files are created under C:\GTS\ACCDATA and the file names are prefixed with "ABU_".

QuickBooks User Log Files

Starting with QuickBooks 2013, the program can leave backups of large log files under a user’s profile: C:\Documents and Settings\<User Logon Name>\Application Data\Intiut\QuickBooks\Log\<Version> or C:\Users\<User Logon Name>\AppData\Local\Intuit\QuickBooks\Log\<Version>.

Additional Ways to Recover Disk Space

If the above steps did not recover enough disk space on a server, consider the additional steps that can be taken to further recover disk space.

Windows Server 2003

On some Windows Server 2003 servers that have had applications installed, removed, repaired or re-installed, various MSI-related files can be left behind and take up some needed disk space. To clear out some of those files, run the following command from a Command Prompt window (and not directly from the "Run..." prompt).

\\dc1support1\c$\Tools\msizap.exe !g

If the above command does not find any files to remove, it will return an error and exit. If it does locate files to delete, it will automatically delete those files and report which ones it does delete.

Another way to recover some disk space on a Windows Server 2003 server is to delete the "$NtUninstall*" directories that are located directly under C:\WINDOWS. These files are kept around in case a Service Pack or an update needs to be uninstalled.

Windows Server 2008

On Windows Server 2008 servers that have had Service Packs or update rollups installed after the initial operating system was installed (rather being included in the Windows installation media); various update files will be left around in case a roll-back is required. Once a roll-back is no longer required, those files can be removed by running the following from a Command Prompt window with Administrative rights:

compcln /hide

The command will also hide those updates from the Windows Add/Remove Programs list. If this command has already been executed on a server and no Service Packs and/or major update rollups have been installed since, the program will return a message stating that and will exit.

Windows Server 2008 R2

Windows Server 2008 R2 has the same mechanism that can be used to remove update files left around in case a roll-back is required. Unlike Windows Server 2008, the new version of Windows uses the Windows Systems Imaging components to manage those files and a different command must be used. Run the following from a Command Prompt window with Administrative rights:

dism /online /cleanup-image /spsuperseded

As with the "compcln /hide" command for Windows Server 2008, the above command will also hide those updates from the Windows Add/Remove Programs list.

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