ClickOnce Application Cache Location on Disk

July 31st, 2007

I have been working with ClickOnce a lot recently for work and one thing that comes in real handy when debugging deployment of your application (which takes way more than one click) is the actual location on disk of files that are downloaded from the ClickOnce server to the client machine. I knew that these files were downloaded and being run, but I simply could not find them in Windows Explorer. I tried all kinds of searches using both the indexed and non-indexed versions of Windows Search, but nothing came up. I don’t know why this isn’t more common knowledge, but here we go.

So, the first place you should look is here:
C:\Documents and Settings\_username_\Local Settings\Apps\_DotNet_Version_

However, since ClickOnce applications are not supposed to know where exactly the reside on disk (for a lot of reasons security and deployment considerations), the folder names get obfuscated from here. I would suggest just using the modified dates of the folders and files as clues in your search. Hopefully you don’t have too much stuff thrown in there. Another thought would be to explicitly add this folder to the Desktop Search index list (or maybe remove the explicity exclusion?), so then you could use good ‘ole search on it to find your files.

When I finally found the files I was looking for there were in this folder:
C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\Local Settings\Apps\2.0\LCN10VZX.HD3\025C2B6R.1XJ\qdab..ient_f1fd3e157083502b_0002.0001_10859e55371bee77

Lame, huh? (and, yes, I know running as Administrator is stupid)

10 comments to “ClickOnce Application Cache Location on Disk”

  1. Thanks for this information. No wonder I couldn’t find my Access database when I did a ‘file search’ yesterday. :)

    I did some research myself before I got to your blog and I learned that ClickOnce installs an application as a “per user” basis not the old “per machine” approach.

  2. Thank you! I suspected it was somewhere in the settings folders! I have been desperately trying to recover the SQL CE database file I have been editing with my app to copy back to the development folder, but couldn’t find the damn thing anywhere, and nobody on MSDN forums was helpful either…

  3. Aside from this issue, I cannot see how click once will work with a database / application being installed for each user. What about 10 users and 1 database. It seems pointless for each person to maintain their own records.

  4. I’ve seen a lot of complaints on the forums about ClickOnce. I just don’t know why Microsoft decided to have this program deploy applications in such a cryptic way (not to mention a lot of other kind of problems). Is Microsoft doing something to correct this strange behavior? What were the developers of ClickOnce thinking when they developed this application?

  5. Thanks a lot :)

  6. I was looking for sql database and search function does not shows up. After your blog, I found out that it was stored in this location which is very hard to find. I was totally mad at M$ people and why search function does not detect this.
    C:\Documents and Settings\user.USER-78C1B29849\Local Settings\Apps\2.0\Data\VTRT9GYZ.0Q6\Z98DMTCN.2TO\hms…tion_aa6bed7ac41b5597_0001.0000_67beb7d5b95514a4\Data>

  7. I’m not sure if others have seen this but… this issue is compounded if there’s multiple installs of the same tool.

    Occasionally it happens that the same install happens more than once, so you need to remove the cached copies (unless there’s loads of clickonce deployments you want then it’s easiest to just delete everything under C:\Documents and Settings\\Local Settings\Apps\2.0\) and also check for any other parts of the hard drive it uses when it’s running.

    In my case I found an app which was storing more data in a directory of the C drive and even when i cleared out the clickonce app it still wouldn’t work.

    You’ve been warned! It’s sometimes a compound problem


  8. I do agree with all the ideas you’ve introduced in your post. They’re very convincing and can definitely work. Nonetheless, the posts are too brief for beginners. May you please extend them a bit from next time? Thank you for the post.

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