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Visual Studio 2005 Service Pack 1 is out (and will eat your hard drive alive)

Visual Studio 2005 Service Pack 1 Final is finally out.

Before you go and install it, though, check your disk space on C: and installed memory. No, really, bad things happen otherwise.

Thanks to the wonderful technology that is the Microsoft Installer, VS2005 SP1 eats quite a bit more disk space than it should. In order to install it, you should really have at least 3GB of free disk space on your system drive (NOT necessarily where you installed Visual Studio); people have reported VS2005 installations breaking when they tried installing with less, or even the VC8 runtime library going missing in the system (BAD). The installer will make about four copies of the 400MB archive during the unpacking process and also load the entire patch into memory to check it, so it can take a good 20-30 minutes to install the patch, and more if you're low on memory and the system starts swapping. I've heard that you can diffuse some of this with some switches on the top-level setup application and/or manually extracting the .msp with an unzip utility.

What is perhaps much worse is that you will also lose more disk space in the end than you might expect, because the Installer will copy the entire 400MB .msp file into the C:WindowsInstaller folder AND copy a ton of uncompressed backup files into a subdirectory below that. I only installed Visual C++ and Visual C#, but in the end I lost 1.3GB of space on C: after installing VS2005 SP1. I filed a bug on this behavior during the SP1 beta, but apparently the VS team didn't find a way to address it. I can't faithfully express in words how lame this is, but the next time I have to reinstall VS2005 I'm going to try slipstreaming the patch into the installation media because increasing the installation footprint of Visual Studio by 5x is ridiculous.


This blog was originally open for comments when this entry was first posted, but was later closed and then removed due to spam and after a migration away from the original blog software. Unfortunately, it would have been a lot of work to reformat the comments to republish them. The author thanks everyone who posted comments and added to the discussion.