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Issue #847: October 15-21, 2023

Q: I encountered hundreds (maybe thousands) of empty folders and used 4dots Empty Folder Cleaner to find and nuke them on a safe drive, external to my PC. It seemed to work fine, but before I repeat the process on my C: drive, I wanted to run the wisdom of such a clean-up by you and see what you think.

 – William R.
Fort Walton Beach, Florida

A: Until I read your question, William, I would not have considered the presence of empty folders on my PC to be a problem.  I did some poking around on a couple of my own computers, and I didn’t see the “hundreds (maybe thousands)” of empty folders you described, leading me to believe the problem is endemic to your system.

In and of itself, the removal of folders that don’t have any files in them is not a problem.  I suppose it’s possible that something is planning to write files there, and the removal of the location could conceivably cause an error.  But it seems like that would be a one-off, and would involve one, or a handful of folders, not folders in the quantity you described.  I think, therefore, that before you proceed any farther, you should give some consideration to what is causing all of these empty folders to be cluttering up your drive. 

Here are some questions to ask yourself:  Are the folders truly empty, or are there hidden files residing in them?  In case you’re unaware, under Windows, it’s possible to mark files as hidden, and then they don’t show up in a standard directory listing.  In this case, unless you take special steps to view the hidden files, the folders would appear to be empty.  Next, are you, or someone who uses your computer, in the habit of creating folders, perhaps for temporary use, which don’t get deleted after use?  This seems unlikely to me, based solely on the quantity folders involved. Finally, what kind of names do these folders have?  Do they appear to be random gibberish, like malware might create to store something?  Perhaps they follow a pattern, such as they all start with the same few letters followed by sequentially increasing numbers? In that case, they could have been created by something like the transfer of photos from a camera or smartphone, which did not properly clean up after itself.

There are probably countless other scenarios that could account for the presence of empty folders, but regardless, with the exception of the potential software error I mentioned earlier, I don’t really see any downside to removing these folders.

I want to say a few words about the product you mentioned in your submission.  For the benefit of my other readers, William is considering using a product called “Empty Folder Cleaner” published by the interestingly named company 4dots Software.  I imagine there’s a story behind that name.  You can find more information about this product or the publisher by visiting their website at

This seems like a great little product to accomplish your goal, William.  You’re fully in control of where on your device it looks for empty folders, and it is aware of hidden files, and won’t delete folders that contain them.  You can set up lists of files and folders for it to ignore, and you can choose whether empty folders that it finds are permanently deleted or placed in the Windows Recycle Bin.  I did want to make sure that you’re aware this does not appear to be freeware, although there is a trial period that might suit your needs.  If you choose to buy it, the cost is $9.95, which doesn’t sound like much, but it might seem like a lot if you consider that this software has one, and only one purpose: to find and remove hidden folders.  If that’s what you really want to do, go for it, but as I said above, if it was me, I’d want to know where all those folders are coming from, since having that many on your computer is by no means a normal occurrence.

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