Windows 10: Flooded with empty TMP directory garbage

Windows[German]Today another inquiry to the readership of this blog, if the observation of a reader can be verified. The reader noticed that under Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro, in version 21H1 and with all updates installed, “directory garbage” suddenly appears. Windows leaves a bunch of empty directories in the system profile folder every time it reboots.


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The bug is not new, I have found entries in forums as far back as 2020. Here is some information that the user sent me.

A reader’s feedback

German blog reader Thomas G. contacted me a few days ago with a curious observation. He is running two systems with Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro, in version 21H1. In doing so, he noticed newly created files, and writes:

I am running Windows 10 Home and Pro, version 21H1, current patch level.

The affected directory is:

C:\Windows\System32\config\systemprofile\AppData\Local.

Apparently, nineteen (!) empty TMP directories are created in this location with each reboot.

They all have a name similar to “tw-1670-10dc-7994a0.tmp”.

On some of my serviced devices, the number had added up to several hundred.

From what I could read, this might have something to do with “Provisioning Task” in Task Scheduling. (…Microsoft\Windows\Management\Provisioning…).

The constant creation of these directories can probably be turned off by overriding a “logon function” in Task Scheduling.

This is supposed to have no short-term consequences for Windows operation, but is probably more of an “experimental tip”. The long-term consequences are unclear….

Thomas asked for a good tip to solve the problem? I would have pointed him to Linux, but that wouldn’t have been interpreted as being on target. However, on a test machine I booted, I could not find these empty folders.

Hits on the Internet

However, during a quick internet search, I came across another reference from 2020 in this forum thread on TensForum. The user writes:

Odd TMP files – OK to delete? What are they?

I was helping someone correct an ESENT error and guiding them to:
System32\config\SystemProfile\AppData\Local\
and looking in my Local folder there I found a slew of .tmp folders, all zero bytes.
The folders are dated from 3/13/20 to today (3/29/20)
There are 19 folders created for each date, all have the same time.
Is it OK to delete these?
I ran Disk Cleanup (as Administrator) and it did not remove them.
What do you think these are?

He found these files on his system and posted a screenshot with the directory garbage. Here is an excerpt of such files:

Leere Verzeichnisse tw-1670-10dc-7994a0.tmp
(Source: Tensforum)


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In this post someone writes that the empty TMP folders are created by ProvTool.exe (Provisioning package runtime processing tool). The solution is to add the Logon task in the Task Scheduler under

Microsoft\Windows\Management\Provisioning

(see here). The empty TMP folders can be deleted. On askwoody.com there is this thread from 2019 on the subject – and on deskmodder.de there is this thread with an explanation.


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6 Responses to Windows 10: Flooded with empty TMP directory garbage

  1. Chris Pugson says:

    I have more than 1500 such directories in folder C:\Windows\System32\config\systemprofile\AppData\Local\

    The earliest are dated 14 October 2020. I guess that the folder dates coincide with Microsoft Windows 10 updates. There are many folders produced at each update.

  2. Chris Pugson says:

    Further to my comment, the Windows 10 system I examined was installed in May 2019 and has used each feature update from 1903 onwards. The issue raised about the .tmp folders does not appear to have existed before 14 October 2020 on which date feature update 2004 was installed on this particular system.

    I assume that these empty .tmp folders only use space in the parent folder sufficient to store the empty folder names and so are not a threat to the capacity of the parent storage device. I imagine that other yet to be discovered instances of Microsoft’s untidyness also exist.

  3. P.D. says:

    *.tmp files have been a bugbear since Windows 3.0. No matter the version, it never hurts to run a “*.tmp’ search on your drive (s) as a part of weekly housecleaning as Windows (any version) is horrible at cleaning up after itself.

    Generally speaking, if the .tmp file is over two weeks old, you can safely dump it.

    THEN look in /windows/temp/ and find the rest of the garbage, and apply the same rule.

    Messy, messy, Redmond. Now go wash your hands.

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  5. krzemien says:

    Ah yes, did not spot that earlier. ~4.500 such folders…! All empty, of course.

    They started in my case on 28/10/2020 – on the day I moved to 20H2, I believe. And continue in earnest, ‘only’ 19 of them created today so far.

  6. P.D. says:

    “Ah yes, did not spot that earlier. ~4.500 such folders…! All empty, of course.”

    4500?? Gurgle!

    Man, that is outrageous! Glad I could help.

  7. MrX1980 says:

    Hi, I found a 4 month old Feedback-Hub entry about this topic. I would ask you to participate in this feedback. Thank you.
    https://aka.ms/AAcyuhb

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