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What is the i386 folder? What is the Windows folder?

Ella asks:

The eclean software has a selection for finding duplicate files so you can delete one to save space. However, I haven't been able to find out which ones of the duplicates can be deleted. For example, the file may be C:\i386\abcd and the duplicate may be C:\windows\i386\abcd. Both have the same bytes and date. So which do you delete, if any?

Pat asks:

I searched and see that I have 3 folders with C\i386. Do I need all 3? Which ones do I need, which ones can I delete?

Here are the 3 folders with C\i386:

I386 at C:\

While the files Ella mentioned are most likely the same, I recommend she keep both files on her computer. What you’re seeing are similar or identical files in two different locations, and both are important to your computer working properly.

The folders Pat mentions contain similarly-named files that may be slightly different from each other. But my recommendation is still to keep them.

And the short answer to these questions? Simple: Don’t delete files from any of the locations above. While it’s true duplicate files exist, they’re both needed now and then. And if you have multiple i386 folders, this is a way of keeping different versions of similar files, very handy to have in certain troubleshooting and repair situations.

The Windows folder is the location of most of the files that make Windows work. Unless you’re sure about what you’re doing, don’t ever delete files in this folder. They could interfere with the proper functioning of Windows.

The i386 folder holds the files used to install, repair, modify, update and rebuild Windows. Though these files are also located on your Windows installation CD (if you have one), I recommend you not delete anything located here. Deleting these files won’t recover much room, and the convenience of having the files there save a lot of time for us techie-types. (The contents of the i386 folder can commonly be found in the folder at C:\Windows\Options\Cabs. This Windows "cabs" folder is essentially the same as the i386 folder.)