Question

Windows Store space issues


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Hey everyone

I can't believe I'm the only one having this problem, so I thought I'd ask here.

I'm havint this relatively well documented problem of installing a game from the Windows Store, uninstalling it, but the space not being reclaimed from the C: drive.

The space is taken up in the C:/Program Files/WindowsApps folder, and on my machine at the moment that's running at about 200GB.

There is a workaround which involves taking ownership of the folder so you can give yourself delete permissions and manually delete the files, but this doesn't work on the Shadow PC, because they seem to restrict your ability to make these changes.

I reached out to Shadow support, and they suggested resetting my Shadow PC, but that isn't really going to work. This is a consistent issue with the Windows Store, so if we reset then we're just going to have the problem as soon as I install and uninstall a game again. I know this for certain because I had the problem before... my Shadow PC was reset for unrelated reasons, and I'm having the problem again.

Plus, I had to reinstall everything and lost some savegames in the process, so that's not really an option.

There's nothing in the help center about this issue that I can find.

From a Shadow point of view the issue is not being able to change permissions on a protected folder, which I assume is a symptom of the way you guys configure access rights on your machines.

When you try to access the folder you get a message telling you that you don't have permission to do so.

So, you go to the security tab, and try to change the permissions per this solution (https://www.windowscentral.com/how-delete-windowsapps-folder-windows-10) which talks about how to workaround the Windows Store issue.

The security settings should allow me, with local admin privileges, so set the owner of the folder or change my permissions... but all of these settings are greyed out.

There is also an interesting notification when you view the access control entry for the local shadow user on that WindowsApps folder... It says I have read/list access to the folder, which doesn't seem to be the case, but it also says that the access control entry for the current user is corrupt

I don't know why it would say this, but this is a very recently reset Shadow PC which I haven't done anything on but install software, so again I assume this is a product of the non-standard configuration.

So... all of this adds up to the face that I'm running out of room on my C: drive, and I can't reclaim it.
Since my primary use case is to play games on my Shadow PC (and a lot of people I imagine) then I need to be able to workaround this Microsoft issue until they fix it by using the same solution as everyone else, but permissions configuration issues specific to Shadow seem to be preventing me.

Anyone else having this problem? It seems to me that at the current price a Shadow PC and a Microsoft XBOX Game Pass for PC is a perfect pairing to pick up all those games that I don't get because I do a lot of my gaming on a PlayStation. I can't believe I'm alone in that, so I imagine I'm not the only one hitting this.

Anyone found a solution or know what I'm talking about?

Any help or advice appreciated.

Thanks
Jess


13 replies

Userlevel 1
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Hey, 

 

I might have a solution, I'll check if it works and get back to you 

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Hey, 

 

I might have a solution, I'll check if it works and get back to you 

Thanks. :)

Userlevel 6
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Have you talked to support about exactly all these points you outlined here? 

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Have you talked to support about exactly all these points you outlined here? 

Yup.

In fact they got basically the same email that I posted here, but with attached screenshots.

Their recommendation was to reset the PC, which isn’t a good answer.

Now they’re escalating the issue to the devs to see if anything can be done. If I get anything from them I’ll post it here.

Userlevel 3
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Are you certain you’re not hitting up against Windows’ own limitations? That article you referenced was intended to be used for the WindowsApps folder on external drives.

 

I do believe the Shadow admins configure some policy objects to control some behavior (such as preventing hibernation), but I don’t believe they “go crazy” with setting things in a non-standard way. Why would they?

 

FWIW I installed a large UWP game on my Shadow, and then removed it...and the disk space was cleared up properly. I only have a handful of Microsoft Store games, but was unaware of this storage reclamation “problem” until I read your post.

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Are you certain you’re not hitting up against Windows’ own limitations? That article you referenced was intended to be used for the WindowsApps folder on external drives.

 

I do believe the Shadow admins configure some policy objects to control some behavior (such as preventing hibernation), but I don’t believe they “go crazy” with setting things in a non-standard way. Why would they?

 

FWIW I installed a large UWP game on my Shadow, and then removed it...and the disk space was cleared up properly. I only have a handful of Microsoft Store games, but was unaware of this storage reclamation “problem” until I read your post.

I’m not certain, no.

There are a lot of articles talking about removing the WindowsApps folder from external disks. However, I think that’s a product of a) lots of people these days having an SSD c: drive for the OS and a large mechanical d: drive for game installations.

Also, I think there are things in the c:/Program Files/WindowsApps folder which shouldn’t be removed, since the system depends on them… whereas presumably the worst problem if you deleted it from the D: drive would be a game not working.

That said, I found loads of complaints about the WindowsApps folder on C: retaining space, and most of the solutions are to do with changing permissions/taking ownership of the problem, and this is something I can’t make happen on the Shadow.

https://www.reddit.com/r/techsupport/comments/7x9blj/how_can_i_delete_windowsapps_folder/

https://petri.com/reclaiming-disk-space-on-windows-10-by-removing-modern-applications

https://www.techcrises.com/how-to/delete-windowsapps-folder/

https://www.addictivetips.com/windows-tips/delete-the-windowsapps-folder-on-windows-10/

https://superuser.com/questions/1517457/windowsapps-folder-still-contains-large-folders-from-deleted-microsoft-applicati

https://windowsreport.com/delete-windowsapps-folder/

https://winbuzzer.com/2020/04/15/windows-10-how-to-access-windows-store-apps-folders-in-file-explorer-xcxwbt/

https://windowsreport.com/windowsapps-folder-windows-error/

https://superuser.com/questions/1465089/how-do-i-delete-a-windowsapps-folder

https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/all/what-is-windows-apps-hidden-folder-and-why-cant-i/40a60508-c409-422a-af92-bd51fe5a4ca9

https://www.thewindowsclub.com/windows-8-metro-apps-folder-location/

https://www.maketecheasier.com/access-windowsapps-folder-windows-10/

And this one is a Microsoft Agent on Windows’ own support forums recommending to change ownership or permissions on a folder that you can’t access or alter, in response to someone asking about cleaning out the WindowsApps folder on the C: drive.

https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/all/windowsapps-folder-cleanup/b2b42bf0-21a9-441b-8efe-934e9c788dc5

All of this makes me think that a) uninstalled games from the Windows Store not cleaning up after themselves is definitely a problem, b) it’s fixable on most Windows systems with a permissions-based workaround, and c) Microsoft aren’t in a hurry to fix it - since some of the reports I’ve seen go back to 2017.

Who knows, though. Shadow are looking in to it. Maybe they’ll come up with something.

I’m just really hoping someone can find a Shadow-based solution, because it’s basically killing my C: drive space on the machine.

Thanks

Userlevel 3
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So I have a local Windows 10 PC (on the 2004 version like my Shadow) that I care less about, so I decided to try the “take ownership” thing on the C:\Program Files\WindowsApps folder, and see what “junk” I could delete. I didn’t touch any folders that started with “Microsoft,” but instead went for things that I knew were reasonably safe (like Apple iTunes...no idea why that was even there), and stuff under the “Deleted” folders. I found that there were several folders that still couldn’t be deleted all the way (would get “access denied” errors even when resetting permissions on the tree).

 

What did seem to work, though, was moving those problematic folders somewhere else (I chose to move them under C:\Windows\Temp), and after a reboot, I was able to nuke them all. Perhaps that’s a “safe” way of dealing with things - moving the target folders to another location on the C drive, rebooting and making sure everything you care about still works, then attack the location where you moved the folders to...

Userlevel 3
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Turns out my wife’s user profile had iTunes installed...woopsie! :hushed:

Logging in as her, and then downloading Microsoft Store updates put it back and it works, though. No harm no foul :grinning:

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What did seem to work, though, was moving those problematic folders somewhere else (I chose to move them under C:\Windows\Temp), and after a reboot, I was able to nuke them all.

It’s a great suggestion, and I really appreciate you trying it out (at the potential expense of your marriage), but on Shadow it doesn’t work. At least on MY shadow.

I can see the folders taking up all the space using TreeSize in Administrator mode, but I can’t actually open the WindowsApps folder to get in there and move anything.

I can’t move the whole WindowsApps folder, because there are things Windows depends on in there.

I haven’t tried rebooting in safe mode, but my memory of my Windows sysadmin days is that system permissions don’t change in safe mode, so I don’t think it will help. Not even sure I can boot my Shadow in safe mode.

At the moment I don’t see a way around it, apart from changing the ownership/permissions on the WindowsApps folder, which on my Shadow I can’t do.

Irritating.

Thanks again.

Userlevel 3
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I was able to use the same process on my Shadow VM, to take the WindowsApps tree size from 6GB to 1.6GB. It was a lot of taking ownership and modifying permissions, though...I’d say it took a good 30 minutes to get through it all. My targets were the subfolders under WindowsApps\Deleted, WindowsApps\DeletedAllUserPackages, and several “Dolby Access” folders under the main WindowsApps...I did install Dolby Access a while back, but then removed it later (also confirming this Windows “bug” of poor cleanup).

Generally speaking, when taking ownership and modifying permissions (I was using the local ‘administrators’ group as the new owner and for ‘full control’ permissions), applying those recursively didn’t always work...and I had to do the same exercise on many of the subfolders. Also, I’d still occasionally get that “You don’t currently have permission to access this folder” like in your screenshot, but after clicking ‘Continue’ I’d get in.

Some folders I could delete, but others I was only able to move to c:\windows\temp, such as several “YourPhone” ones that said they were in use. On those, I had to modify the permissions again (while they were in c:\windows\temp) to remove CREATOR OWNER and SYSTEM from the permissions list, leaving only the local administrators group with full control. Then after a reboot, I was able to nuke the folders.

It’s definitely a tedious process...it’d be nice if Windows had the equivalent of a “real” rm -rf method like on Unix/Linux operating systems, which is as dangerous as it is powerful.

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I was able to use the same process on my Shadow VM, to take the WindowsApps tree size from 6GB to 1.6GB. It was a lot of taking ownership and modifying permissions, though...

OK so thanks for this.

Didn’t work. :)

I did, however, make some progress.

Here’s something interesting. I had taken the step of adding my Microsoft account to the local shadow account when I first got hold of the system. That seems to have triggered permissions issues. When I removed my Microsoft account from the local SHADOW account, it definitely allowed me to take ownership of the WindowsApps folder.

Trouble is, even with ownership of the folder it won’t let me delete sub folders within it.

Also, it will not let me change the permissions on sub folders. It’s odd. If I go to one of the sub folders and try to change the access permissions for my SHADOW account, or the local ADMINISTRATORS account the options to click to edit permissions or remove them are all greyed out, and nothing I seem to be able to do will make it work.

At this point, my SHADOW account and the local ADMINISTRATORS accounts all have full control of the WindowsApps folder and below, and the SHADOW user is the owner of WindowsApps and all sub folders, and I still can’t a) change any permissions for those huge sub folders, or b) move them anywhere. It still says permission denied, with no obvious pathway to fixing that.

Honestly, at this point I’m pretty close to asking Shadow to factory reset the PC and reinstalling everything, and avoiding XBOX Game Pass for PC and just buying everything from Steam.

I thought the Microsoft account thing was interesting though… and I wanted to thank everyone for their help.

 

Userlevel 3
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I had taken the step of adding my Microsoft account to the local shadow account when I first got hold of the system.

Me too, and I haven’t changed it back.

I’m wondering if the method you are using to assign the NTFS permissions is the problem.

Perhaps I should capture a video of what I’m doing, but here it is in written form:

For a given subfolder, after you’ve taken ownership...right-click the subfolder, click Properties, click on the Security tab, click the Advanced button at the bottom, click the Disable inheritance button, choose ‘Convert inherited permissions into explicit permissions on this object.’, click the Add button, click the ‘Select a principal’ link at the top, type in administrators and click OK, click the Full control checkbox and click OK, click the ‘Replace all child object permission entries with inheritable permission entries from this object’ checkbox, click OK and then Yes on the confirmation message, and OK one final time. Whew!

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OK so I seem to have achieved success, but it’s a messy route.

I can’t change the sub folders, but I can alter the permissions on the WindowsApps folder and have them apply down the sub folder chain.

So, if I set the SHADOW user and the ADMINISTRATORS group permissions to full control, and tell it to apply those permissions to everything below, then it allows me to delete stuff. And I have my space back.

Seems like I do have problems, but this seems to work. Crappy.

I’m going to run with it for a bit, but it seems I need to reset it at some point.

Really wish Microsoft would just make their store… ya know… work!

Anyway, thanks for the help, and to you Jim in particular. Very much appreciated.

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