How to Clean up the WinSxS Directory and Free Up Disk Space on Windows Server 2008 R2 with New Update

It’s finally here! After pages and pages of comments from you requesting the ability to clean up the WinSxS directory and component store on Windows Server 2008 R2, an update is available.

As a refresher, the Windows Server 2008 R2 update is directly related to my previous blog post announcing a similar fix for Windows 7 client.

The Windows 7 version of this fix introduced an additional option to the Disk Cleanup wizard that would cleanup previous versions of Windows Update files. KB2852386 adds a Disk Cleanup option on Windows Server 2008 R2, similar to the Windows 7 update.

What does this mean for Windows Server 2008 R2? After installing this update and prior to being able to perform the cleanup, the Desktop Experience feature must be installed. Why you ask? Disk Cleanup is not installed by default on Windows Server 2008 R2. It is instead a component installed with the Desktop Experience feature.

Why was the update not included as a DISM switch like Windows Server 2012 R2? 

This was evaluated, however, due to the amount of changes required and the rigorous change approval process, it was not feasible to back port the functionality this way. Knowing that it would be some time before everyone could upgrade to Windows Server 2012 R2 and based on feedback from an internal survey taken of a subset of enterprise customers, it was determined that this update would still be useful in its Disk Cleanup form, even with the Desktop Experience prerequisite. We hope you agree. However, we are aware that for some of you, the Desktop Experience requirement will be a deal breaker, but decided to release it anyway hoping it will help in some instances.

How can I get the update?

The update is available on Windows Update. It can also be manually downloaded from the Microsoft Update Catalog. The KB article listed above will also direct you to a download link in the Microsoft Download Center.

Script It!


My super knowledgeable scripting cohort Tom Moser wrote a PowerShell script that automates THE ENTIRE PROCESS. Can I get a cheer? Ok. So maybe it is a bit much to expect IT admins to cheer, but can I get an appreciative grunt?  The script certainly beats the alternative of doing this all manually.

You can find the script on the TechNet Script Center here:

What does the script do? 

In short, the script does the following:

1) Installs Desktop Experience, if not previously installed, and performs a reboot.

2) Sets the appropriate registry keys to automate the cleanup. The script will cleanup not only previous Windows Update files as well as Service Pack files.

3) The script then initiates the cleanup.

4) If Desktop Experience was not previously installed, the script uninstalls it.

5) Performs final reboot.




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