Windows updates -- recovering disk space


S

Stan Brown

I've just spent some time Googling this, but without success. I
suspect my search terms are bad, but I can't think of better ones.

I'd like to delete the installed Windows update uninstall files from
my system. Please understand: I don't want to uninstall the updates,
I want to delete the uninstall files for the updates that are already
in my system because I know I won't want to uninstall them.

In Windows XP, we would delete anything with $NTuninstall... from the
Windows folder, but I don't see anything like that in my Windows 7
Home Premium C:\Windows Folder.

I did run cleanmgr and ask it to clean up system files. It found the
SP1 backup file taking almost 1 GB, but no other Windows update
backup files. However, Programs and Features shows 35 Windows
updates installed, including one the day after after the Service
Pack.

Do installed updates in Windows 7 just not leave backup files behind,
or are they in some other location?

Again, I don't want to uninstall Windows updates; I just want to
recover wasted disk space.
 
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G

Gordon

I've just spent some time Googling this, but without success. I
suspect my search terms are bad, but I can't think of better ones.

I'd like to delete the installed Windows update uninstall files from
my system.
I don't think you can.
 
D

Dave \Crash\ Dummy

Stan said:
I've just spent some time Googling this, but without success. I
suspect my search terms are bad, but I can't think of better ones.

I'd like to delete the installed Windows update uninstall files from
my system. Please understand: I don't want to uninstall the updates,
I want to delete the uninstall files for the updates that are already
in my system because I know I won't want to uninstall them.

In Windows XP, we would delete anything with $NTuninstall... from the
Windows folder, but I don't see anything like that in my Windows 7
Home Premium C:\Windows Folder.

I did run cleanmgr and ask it to clean up system files. It found the
SP1 backup file taking almost 1 GB, but no other Windows update
backup files. However, Programs and Features shows 35 Windows
updates installed, including one the day after after the Service
Pack.

Do installed updates in Windows 7 just not leave backup files behind,
or are they in some other location?

Again, I don't want to uninstall Windows updates; I just want to
recover wasted disk space.
With terabyte disk drives common and cheap, 1 GB of "wasted disk space"
is no longer an issue. It is hard for anal types like myself to accept
that, but I have given up trying to delete every installation log and
uninstall file and learned to live with an OS that uses ~20GB of disk
space and is destined to keep growing.
 
D

Dave-UK

Stan Brown said:
I've just spent some time Googling this, but without success. I
suspect my search terms are bad, but I can't think of better ones.

I'd like to delete the installed Windows update uninstall files from
my system. Please understand: I don't want to uninstall the updates,
I want to delete the uninstall files for the updates that are already
in my system because I know I won't want to uninstall them.

In Windows XP, we would delete anything with $NTuninstall... from the
Windows folder, but I don't see anything like that in my Windows 7
Home Premium C:\Windows Folder.

I did run cleanmgr and ask it to clean up system files. It found the
SP1 backup file taking almost 1 GB, but no other Windows update
backup files. However, Programs and Features shows 35 Windows
updates installed, including one the day after after the Service
Pack.

Do installed updates in Windows 7 just not leave backup files behind,
or are they in some other location?

Again, I don't want to uninstall Windows updates; I just want to
recover wasted disk space.

I think most of the update files end up in the winsxs folder.

You could try this if it's important to you, but I don't
think you'll gain much disk space. You might even give
yourself some problems.
http://www.khamnam.com/2010/02/28/how-to-remove-windows-update-files/
 
S

Stan Brown

With terabyte disk drives common and cheap, 1 GB of "wasted disk space"
is no longer an issue. It is hard for anal types like myself to accept
that, but I have given up trying to delete every installation log and
uninstall file and learned to live with an OS that uses ~20GB of disk
space and is destined to keep growing.
I understand your point, Dave. But it bulks up my backup of the C:
drive by about 15%, so the backup takes longer and uses more disks
when I burn a hard copy (as I do monthly).
 
T

Thip

Stan Brown said:
I've just spent some time Googling this, but without success. I
suspect my search terms are bad, but I can't think of better ones.

I'd like to delete the installed Windows update uninstall files from
my system. Please understand: I don't want to uninstall the updates,
I want to delete the uninstall files for the updates that are already
in my system because I know I won't want to uninstall them.
I use a batch file (modify for your own use!):

****************************************
net stop wuauserv
rmdir %windir%\softwaredistribution /s /q
net start wuauserv
exit

****************************************

Copy and paste between the stars into Notepad and save it as something like
Clean.bat. Mine is actually stored on another drive so I have commands to
change the drive and path in my version:

CD C:\
CD Windows
net stop wuauserv
rmdir %windir%\softwaredistribution /s /q
net start wuauserv
exit

Don't know if I need the CD Windows command or not (I'm an old-timer) but I
can tell you the batch file works fine.
 
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G

Gordon

I understand your point, Dave. But it bulks up my backup of the C:
drive by about 15%, so the backup takes longer and uses more disks
when I burn a hard copy (as I do monthly).
Interested to know why you back up the SYSTEM so often - do you change
the SYSTEM every day/week? I don't - it's my DATA that changes, not the
SYSTEM....
 
G

Gordon

I understand your point, Dave. But it bulks up my backup of the C:
drive by about 15%, so the backup takes longer and uses more disks
when I burn a hard copy (as I do monthly).
And in any case - unless you are making a system IMAGE then there's no
earthly point in backing up system files anyway...
 
Z

Zaidy036

Stan Brown at said:
I understand your point, Dave. But it bulks up my backup of the C:
drive by about 15%, so the backup takes longer and uses more disks
when I burn a hard copy (as I do monthly).
for Data backup just copy your C:\Users\<your name>\ folder
 
S

Stan Brown

Interested to know why you back up the SYSTEM so often - do you change
the SYSTEM every day/week? I don't - it's my DATA that changes, not the
SYSTEM....
Well, I install new programs or new versions; I change settings; and
of course application data are on C.
 
S

Stan Brown

And in any case - unless you are making a system IMAGE then there's no
earthly point in backing up system files anyway...
I don't quite understand your comment. I do a complete Acronis
TrueImage backup of the partition C as well as a couple of my data
partitions.
 
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S

Stan Brown

I think most of the update files end up in the winsxs folder.
Thanks, Dave. I did a "dir /s" and found mine is 11 GB. That's a
third of the entire space usage on my C: drive.

Naturally I assume there must be a way to remove unneeded stuff. I
went Googling for this at Microsoft's site, and I am frankly
horrified. BY DESIGN, every time you install anything (not just
Windows updates), this folder grows and grows. And there is no safe
way to remove the obsolete stuff!

In
http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_7-
files/what-is-this-folder-cwindowswinsxs/330c3307-2569-4043-b2ec-
c8016840a17a
there is a reference to the following, with a comment that it also
applies to Windows 7:

http://blogs.technet.com/askcore/archive/2008/09/17/what-is-the-
winsxs-directory-in-windows-2008-and-windows-vista-and-why-is-it-so-
large.aspx

And the suggested solution: buy a bigger hard drive!

This page makes the picture look slightly less bleak:

http://blogs.technet.com/b/joscon/archive/2010/06/12/general-
guidance-on-disk-provisioning-for-winsxs-growth.aspx

He recommends 40 GB for a Windows system partition, including Windows
itself and C:\Program Files, and he seems to be saying that WINSXS
won't grow without limit: "On Win7 and R2 machines, we auto scavenge
at specific intervals." It blows my mind that there is 11 GB there
after auto scavenging.

It's just a week since I installed SP1. I'm going to wait another
week, then run cleanmgr and tell it to remove the SP1 backup.
Cleanmgr says I'll get back 900-odd MB. I'll see how much space I
actually recover that way, and I'll report back.
You could try this if it's important to you, but I don't
think you'll gain much disk space. You might even give
yourself some problems.
http://www.khamnam.com/2010/02/28/how-to-remove-windows-update-files/
He mentions the %WINDIR%\SoftwareDistribution\Download folder. Mine
contains only 96 MB, which I agree is not worth getting excited
about.
 
D

Dave-UK

Stan Brown said:
Thanks, Dave. I did a "dir /s" and found mine is 11 GB. That's a
third of the entire space usage on my C: drive.

Naturally I assume there must be a way to remove unneeded stuff. I
went Googling for this at Microsoft's site, and I am frankly
horrified. BY DESIGN, every time you install anything (not just
Windows updates), this folder grows and grows. And there is no safe
way to remove the obsolete stuff!

In
http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_7-
files/what-is-this-folder-cwindowswinsxs/330c3307-2569-4043-b2ec-
c8016840a17a
there is a reference to the following, with a comment that it also
applies to Windows 7:

http://blogs.technet.com/askcore/archive/2008/09/17/what-is-the-
winsxs-directory-in-windows-2008-and-windows-vista-and-why-is-it-so-
large.aspx

And the suggested solution: buy a bigger hard drive!

This page makes the picture look slightly less bleak:

http://blogs.technet.com/b/joscon/archive/2010/06/12/general-
guidance-on-disk-provisioning-for-winsxs-growth.aspx

He recommends 40 GB for a Windows system partition, including Windows
itself and C:\Program Files, and he seems to be saying that WINSXS
won't grow without limit: "On Win7 and R2 machines, we auto scavenge
at specific intervals." It blows my mind that there is 11 GB there
after auto scavenging.

It's just a week since I installed SP1. I'm going to wait another
week, then run cleanmgr and tell it to remove the SP1 backup.
Cleanmgr says I'll get back 900-odd MB. I'll see how much space I
actually recover that way, and I'll report back.
I removed the SP1 backup and now my winsxs folder is 6.18 G/B and
the Windows folder is 11.7 G/B.
If 11 G/B is a third of your disk size I think it's time you raided the piggy bank
and bought yourself a bigger drive. Go for a solid state drive, you won't regret it!
I'll never buy another clockwork disk drive.
 
P

Paul

Stan said:
Thanks, Dave. I did a "dir /s" and found mine is 11 GB. That's a
third of the entire space usage on my C: drive.

Naturally I assume there must be a way to remove unneeded stuff. I
went Googling for this at Microsoft's site, and I am frankly
horrified. BY DESIGN, every time you install anything (not just
Windows updates), this folder grows and grows. And there is no safe
way to remove the obsolete stuff!
<<snip>>

I did some checking, like you, and found a bit of conflicting information.

There is a claim, that WinSXS is constructed using hard links. And
that means the file exists in two places, installed in the system
somewhere else, but also made to appear like it is in WinSXS. The
overhead of using hard links (extra metadata in the file system)
is about 400MB.

That means your 11GB is floating around in other places. If a
chunk of data has two hard links to it, deleting one hard link
wouldn't change the space used measurably.

There is mention here, of some way of visualizing items which
are hard links ("Link Shell Extension"). That way, if you look
at the WinSXS, you'll be able to tell whether the files you're
seeing are regular files, or are hard linked.

http://social.technet.microsoft.com...l/thread/f0862648-0a96-4aa4-8847-76c216d169f3

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_links

"hard link...

This has the effect of creating multiple names for the same file,
causing an aliasing effect: if the file is opened by one of its names,
and changes are made to its content, then these changes will also be
visible when the file is opened by an alternative name."

When a chunk of data is hard linked, the two or more file names involved
don't have to be the same. You must delete both "dog" and "cat" in this
example, before the stored data is released.

"dog" ---
\____ (stored data)
/
"cat" ---

On systems that use soft links, the linkage is via file names.
"ln -s dog cat". It still supports aliasing, but with a
different mechanism. If you delete the original file, when
soft links are used, the link is effectively dead. So the
storage implications are different. Deleting the original file,
frees up the space. The hard link, makes the two references
equal in more ways. The soft link wouldn't be quite as useful,
for what Microsoft is doing with WinSXS.

And the problem with using "tricks" like this, is that it
makes it more confusing when doing maintenance as a home
user. This stuff is great for the megacorp IT department,
but a bear for the home user. Like, how do I figure out, how
much space the files really take, if I want to copy them.
Can I copy them, then copy them back safely ? (As I do regularly
with WinXP...) The more file system tricks involved (hard links,
junction points, sparse files, alternate streams), the more
ways a home user can foul things up.

Paul
 
G

Gordon

Well, I install new programs or new versions; I change settings; and
of course application data are on C.
yes but that's what System Restore is for - there's no need to back up
the SYSTEM (and I'm talking about the OS and installed applications) as
often as you seem to want to - it's a total waste of time IMHO. What you
need to be doing is backing up your DATA (documents, email etc) on a
regular basis then you wouldn't be needing to delete all this stuff in
the first place...
 
G

Gordon

I don't quite understand your comment. I do a complete Acronis
TrueImage backup of the partition C as well as a couple of my data
partitions.
OK - you didn't mention you were using that. But I still stand by my
comments - there is ABSOLUTELY no need to back up the SYSTEM so
often...Data yes - system files - NO.
 
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P

Paul

Gordon said:
OK - you didn't mention you were using that. But I still stand by my
comments - there is ABSOLUTELY no need to back up the SYSTEM so
often...Data yes - system files - NO.
People use that approach, as a response to malware.

At least one person, in another group I frequent, just
blows away C: and puts it back, if attacked by malware.
That's his solution. That takes less time than "level and
reload", which others would suggest. It's really a matter
of which you like, and which is easy to automate.

Paul
 
G

Gordon

People use that approach, as a response to malware.

At least one person, in another group I frequent, just
blows away C: and puts it back, if attacked by malware.
That's his solution. That takes less time than "level and
reload", which others would suggest. It's really a matter
of which you like, and which is easy to automate.

Paul
Last time I got any sort of malware was many years ago when I
accidentally connected XP SP1 to the internet before activating the
firewall.
If people get infected that much then I have to say it must be their
non-safe computing that does it..
 
P

Paul

Gordon said:
Last time I got any sort of malware was many years ago when I
accidentally connected XP SP1 to the internet before activating the
firewall.
If people get infected that much then I have to say it must be their
non-safe computing that does it..
Perhaps.

But consider how AV definition updates are done. There is a
window of opportunity, between when new malware is released
in the wild, and when the AV companies come up with definition
updates for it. We've had outbreaks at work, despite best
efforts to stop it. In such a situation, a backup can be
a handy thing to have.

Paul
 
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G

Gene E. Bloch

But consider how AV definition updates are done. There is a
window of opportunity, between when new malware is released
in the wild, and when the AV companies come up with definition
updates for it. We've had outbreaks at work, despite best
efforts to stop it. In such a situation, a backup can be
a handy thing to have.
In addition, I'd like to mention that some backup programs allow for
incremental backups; if you use one, it costs nothing to back up items
that haven't changed.

I use both an imaging program and a cloning program that do that, so
I'm more than happy to have full backups.
 

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