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WinSxS Cleanup Tool Available for Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1

Microsoft released an optional update last week that adds a Disk Cleanup Wizard to Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1.

The Disk Cleanup Wizard removes the update files that pile up in the WinSxS folder on Windows systems. Consequently, this wizard can free up gigabytes worth of space on servers by deleting a cache of old Windows update files. The idea of the WinSxS folder is that an organization can still roll back to an update if it uninstalls one from the system, since the folder contains a complete copy of Windows, but some organizations may prefer to reclaim disk space over having that rollback capability on hand.

While Microsoft had released an optional update to Windows 7 SP1 in October that added the Disk Cleanup Wizard for that client operating system, there wasn't a comparable tool available for Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 at that time.

Space-conscious IT pros may want to get their hands on the new tool, but using it comes with a catch. Namely, a Desktop Experience feature needs to be installed on the server for the wizard to work. That requirement is described in Microsoft's Disk Cleanup Wizard announcement.

The Desktop Experience feature is required because Microsoft took make-shift approach to get the tool to work on Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1. The wizard is described by Microsoft as "a back port" from Windows Server 2012 R2.

WinSxS folders tend to bulk up over time. The amount of space freed by the Disk Cleanup Wizard varies, but Microsoft's announcement claimed a reduction of 6.6GB after running the tool.

The new wizard gets added to Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 by installing an update. The update can be downloaded from the Microsoft Update Catalog or from this page. It's described by Knowledge Base article KB2852386. Microsoft's announcement also points to the availability of a PowerShell script that will automate the process of installing the Disk Cleanup Wizard.

Typically, a reboot is needed after running the Disk Cleanup Wizard in order for the components to be removed. On Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 systems, Microsoft describes this cleanup tool as the "Component Store Cleanup" utility. In March, Microsoft indicated that its Component Store Cleanup utility in Windows 8.1 will be getting an enhancement that will allow it to perform so-called "deep cleaning" operations without rebooting.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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