How to delete unused folders and files located within the $hf_mig$ folder – Part 1
I’ll show you how to perform a cleanup of files and folders located in $hf_mig$. The conventional answer to deleting the $hf_mig$ folder has always been not to delete it. While this still holds true for the folder, there are ways to delete a large number of sub-folders and files contained with $hf_mig$.
If you look at the contents of the $hf_mig$ folder you will see possibly hundreds of sub folders named KBXXXXXX. Each of these folders corresponds to a Windows Update that was installed on your computer. The folder creation date tells you when that update was installed.
Get back up to 130 MB of free disk space: One easy partial cleanup method is to delete all the files named “update.exe”. There is one update.exe file located in every folder. Example: C:\WINDOWS\$hf_mig$\KB873333\update\update.exe Note: There is another file named: “update.ver”, do not touch this file.
Some background history: Once Windows Update has completed installing the latest security updates on your computer the “update.exe” file is never used again. So over time a user who started out with a clean install of Window XP Service Pack 2 will have accumulated more than a hundred updates and therefore more than a 100 files named update.exe (one for each update).
How to locate and delete all those update.exe files: You can safely delete all the update.exe files located inside the $hf_mig$ folder. One word of warning before you start: There are update.exe files in other locations on your hard drive, only delete the ones located contained within the $hf_mig$ folder. To do this follow the steps outlined below.
1) Select Start/Search, click on the ‘All files and folders’ arrow. In the ‘All or part of the file name’ box enter: “update.exe” (include the quotation marks) 2) In the ‘Look in’ box select the drive letter where Windows is installed which is typically (C: ). 3) Click on the ‘More advanced options’ arrow and place check marks in: ‘Search system folders’, ‘Search hidden files and folders’ and ‘Search subfolders’. 4) Click on the ‘Search’ button. After the search has completed you should see a long list of update.exe files. 5) Click on the first update.exe file located in the C:\WINDOWS\$hf_mig$\KBXXXXXX\update folder to highlight it. Hold the Shift key down and then click on the last update.exe file in the list. They should now all be highlighted. 6) Right click and select ‘Delete’ from the list of options.
Conclusion: On my test computer Windows Update had installed all the “Critical Updates” for Service Pack 2 and 3 from the day I first installed Windows XP Pro Service Pack 2. So in deleting these update.exe files I freed up about 130 MB of disk space. In part 2 of this article I’ll provide more information of the Windows Update process which will help explain why these files are safe to delete.