Save Lots of Disk Space with Microsoft’s New Windows Update Cleanup Tool

Disk space is pretty darned cheap these days, but this still sounds like it could be helpful …

The space a Windows operating system requires grows over time thanks to service packs and updates mostly, but also thanks to other system files and programs that users install on their PC. There are only a few situations where the space requirements drop. This can be after you decide to uninstall a feature that you do not want to use anymore, of by running the Disk Cleanup tool after the installation of a service pack to remove backup files from the system that are created automatically as an option to restore the system to a pre-Service Pack level.

Microsoft released a new plugin yesterday for the Disk Cleanup tool on Windows 7 that adds another option to free up used disk space: and boy is it good.

Update: It is also integrated in Windows 8.1. Do not expect wonders right now here though. The way to launch it is the same as under Windows 7.-

The Windows Update Cleanup tool has been designed to remove Windows Updates from the system that are no longer needed on it.

You are probably wondering why this is happening. All Windows updates are stored in the WinSxS store regardless of whether they are superseeded by later updates or not. This is done to provide you with options to roll back to a superseded update.

This is usually not required if you have run tests to make sure that the latest update does not have any ill-effects on the system, or if you have worked with the updated PC for some time now and have not noticed any issues caused by the new update.

This in effect mimics the removal of older files after the installation of a service pack, and should be handled in the same way.

Windows Update Cleanup

windows update cleanup

The new plugin is currently only available on PCs running Windows 7 Service Pack 1. To run the tool, do the following:

  1. Tap on the Windows-key to bring up the start menu.
  2. Type cleanmgr and hit enter afterwards.
  3. This opens the Disk Cleanup Tool.
  4. Select the c: drive and continue (provided that Windows is installed on c:)
  5. First thing you need to do is click on “Clean up system files” in the window that opens up.
  6. This rescans the system and adds additional cleanup options to the tool that are not available on first run.
  7. Scroll down until you find Windows Update Cleanup.
  8. The option is selected by default. Next to it is the amount in Megabytes or Gigabytes that you will save on your system if you include it in the cleanup.
  9. On my Windows 7 Pro 64-bit system, it listed 4.02 Gigabytes of data for cleanup.
  10. Click Ok to start the process.
  11. Restart your computer to complete it.

You can automate the process by using command line parameters the Disk Cleanup tool supports.

  1. Tap on the Windows-key, type cmd, and hit return.
  2. Run cleanmgr /sageset:n to save the cleanup options you want future cleanups to use to the Registry.
  3. Run cleanmgr /sagerun:n to run the specified tasks using the configuration that you have saved when you ran the tool with the sageset command.

Note: Replace n with an integer value between 0 and 65535.

Additional information about running Disk Cleanup manually or automatically are provided by Microsoft.

Verdict

The new Windows Update Cleanup plugin for the Disk Cleanup tool is a great addition for Windows 7 users as they can free up lots of space when they use it.

A quick check of the Windows folder on my system revealed that it had a size of 28.7 Gigabytes prior to running the new plugin. After a restart, that value dropped to 24.5 Gigabytes for the Windows folder. (my thanks go to Ilev and Ank91 for providing me with the information)

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