This post shows students and new users steps to change or move Windows Updates downloads folder to another disk partition in Windows 11. By default, Windows Updates downloads updates to C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution folder.
If the primary hard drive on your computer is running low on storage space, you can change or move the SoftwareDistribution folder to another disk that has larger partitions with more free space.
Windows does a good job managing system storage using its Storage Sense feature, and will often takes care of removing update files at some point after they’ve been installed, but if you’re extremely low on space, major updates may fail to install due to space limitations.
In that case, moving the update folder to another partition will be your best option. Below we’ll show you how to do that easily in Windows 11.
How to move Windows Updates SoftwareDistribution folder in Windows 11
As mentioned above, Windows Updates SoftwareDistribution folder can be quite large for some systems. By design, the SoftwareDistribution folder lives on the primary partition of the Local Disk. If that partition is running low on space, you can migrate or move the SoftwareDistribution folder to another partition that is larger.
Below is how to do that.
First, locate the partition you want to use for the new folder. Then on the new partition, right-click select New ==> Folder and create a new folder.
For this post, we’ll call the new folder NewSoftwareDistribution which will be on the E:\ drive.
Once our new folder is create, let’s go and stop the Windows Updates service.
To stop Windows Updates service, open the Task Manager by pressing the Ctrl + Shift + Esc keys on your keyboard. When Task Manager opens, select the “Services” tab.
Then scroll down the services list and locate wuauserv service. Right-click the service name and select Stop.
Alternatively, you can use Windows Services app to stop and start Windows Updates service.
Once Windows Updates service stops, go and rename the current SoftwareDistribution folder.
Open File Explorer and browse to C:\Windows. Then right-click the “SoftwareDistribution” folder and select the “Rename” command.
You’ll be prompted for permission to do this; click “Yes.” Then rename the folder to SoftwareDistribution.old.
At this point, we’ve created a new folder (NewSoftwareDistribution) on the larger partition and renamed the current SoftwareDistribution folder to SoftwareDistribution.old.
Now, let’s go and tell Windows how to find the new folder we created. To do this, we use a Symbolic Link, or symlink feature in Windows.
First, click on the Start button and search for, select and open the Command Prompt as administrator.
On the Command Prompt console, type the commands below.
mklink /j c:\windows\SoftwareDistribution d:\NewSoftwareDistribution
If the commands was successful, you should see a success message similar to the one below
Junction created for c:\windows\SoftwareDistribution <<===>> e:\NewSoftwareDistribution
A new “SoftwareDistribution” item with a shortcut icon is added to the C:\Windows folder with a symlink icon on the folder.
If you don’t want Windows Updates to download all previously downloaded updates again, you can copy the content from the old SoftwareDistribution.old folder into the newly created symlink SoftwareDistribution folder.
After copying the content from the old to new, go and start the Windows Updates service that was stopped above.
Open the Task Manager, and under the Services tab, locate Windows Updates service (wuauserv), and Start it again.
That should do it! Windows Updates will be the new partition folder for all new updates for your computer.
This post showed you how to move or change Windows Updates SoftwareDistribution folder in Windows 11. If you find any error above or have something to add, please use the comment form below.