As I was looking over the boot/system disk for my Dell D620 laptop this morning, I discovered a directory named $Windows.~Q that contained nearly 3 GB of data. Recognizing the leading $ (dollar) sign as a technique that Windows uses to hide shares and directories from casual display and access, I looked the directory up online to discover that it is created during the upgrade process from Vista to Windows 7 (you can’t upgrade from XP or earlier systems to Windows 7; for those older Windows versions a clean install is required). Looking around further, I discovered another hidden folder named $INPLACE.~TR as well.
A little quick research online (see this interesting article at the HowToGeek’s site, for example) informed me that not only it it safe to delete these folders and their contents, but that the effort would free up at least 1 GB of disk space, and often more than that (2.90 GB for the $Windows.~Q folder and 667 MB for the $INPLACE.~TR folder, for a total of 3.55 GB). In fact, I learned that the Disk Cleanup utility will display checkboxes for these items after you click the “Clean up system files” button following an initial cleanup scan on a system that has been upgraded from Vista to Windows 7, as the following screenshot illustrates:
I realize the number of machines that will be subject to in-place upgrades from Vista to Windows 7 will be small at any given company or organization, but if you do find yourself in the boat of using Windows upgrade to build a new image, or perform the upgrade on one or more PCs, don’t forget to take this additional cleanup step after the upgrade is complete. In fact, a quick post-install batch file will take care of these two directories quickly, even if Microsoft didn’t see fit to remove them on your behalf automatically.