Missing C:\Windows\Installer files when trying to update SQL Server

While trying to install a service pack on one of my systems, I ran into a server that kept exiting setup stating it was missing files from C:\Windows\Installer.  This is unfortunate as some people will actually clear out the C:\Windows\Installer directory trying to free up space.  Luckily, Microsoft has a few tools for fixing this issue.  You can either use the FixMissingMSI tool, or the FindSQLInstall.vbs script.  I prefer the FixMissingMSI tool as sometimes getting the approval to run a .vbs script can be difficult to obtain.  Both tools can be found here:

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/969052/how-to-restore-the-missing-windows-installer-cache-files-and-resolve-p

Update:  Several co-workers have asked me if there is anything that is safe to remove from this directory.  The answer is that it depends.  If you see a ton of .tmp files and they each 133MB and there’s a hundred of them, by all means delete them.  Typically .tmp files are caused by a failed download from the updates server.  Remove these without a problem, then download the actual update file that is being installed and install it manually.  This should clear up any issues like that.

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