How to move the Windows update “SoftwareDistribution” folder?

If you are using Windows 10 or Windows 11, the PC is updated through Windows update. Windows update is the service that Windows uses to download and install a new version of the operating system.

Downloading update(s) consumes disk space. On average, your primary hard drive, the C drive in most cases, should have about 10 Gigabytes of free disk space available. Then you are good to go for downloading and installing substantial updates.

If the C drive does not have enough disk space, or if you want to download the Windows updates to another location for whatever reason, this is possible.

For example, you can have the Windows updates downloaded to another partition on another drive or even an external hard drive. If you have updates downloaded to another drive, this drive should always be available.

All updates are downloaded to your computer in Windows before they are installed. By default, Windows updates are downloaded to the “SoftwareDistribution” folder. This is a sub-folder in the c:\windows folder. Thus, the default location for Windows updates is c:\windows\softwaredistribution.

By linking the SoftwareDistribution folder to a new location, you can move Windows updates to another folder. This can be done using the “mklink” command or (“symbolic links”) or (“symlinks”). Here’s how it works.

How to move the Windows update “SoftwareDistribution” folder?

First, create a Windows restore point.

To start, you need to temporarily stop the “Windows update” service. This is necessary to rename the SoftwareDistribution folder.

Right-click on the Start button. Then click on Run in the menu. In the Run window type: services.msc

Next, look for the “Windows update” service and right-click on it. In the menu, click on “Stop”. The update service will now be stopped.

Stop the Windows update service

Now open the File Explorer and go to the folder c:\windows. Next, Right-click on the “Softwaredistribution” folder and click on “Rename”.

rename SoftwareDistribution folder

Change the name of the Softwaredistribution folder to “Softwaredistribution_old”. Doesn’t matter what the name is, but keep it recognizable.

Now open the Command Prompt as Administrator to use “mklink” to replace the old location for the “Softwaredistribution” folder with a new location.

Make sure you already have a new location ready for the Windows updates. This can be a new folder on a d:\ partition on another drive or other location.

On your computer, search for Command Prompt. Then, right-click on it and click “Run as Administrator.”

Open command prompt as admin

Now enter the command to move the Windows Updates folder to another location.

Here is an example:

mklink /J "c:\windows\softwaredistribution\" "C:\NewFolderWithWindowsUpdates\"

Replace the path in bold with the path of your choice. You will now see a message “Junction created for …”.

use mlink to move softwaredistribution folder to a new location

When it doesn’t work, make sure “Windows update” service is stopped. If you are not quick enough the service will restart itself and create the softwaredistribution folder again. you have to rename it again.

Now check for Windows updates. Files will now be created in the new Windows update folder.

I hope this has helped you. Thank you for reading!

Also read: how to fix when windows update is stuck on installing or downloading updates.

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