Have you noticed the "winsxs" directory before?  One of my 2008 Servers was low on disk space and I ran a TreeSize to figure out what was taking up all the space.  The winsxs directory was the culprit.  It was around 9GBs on the server in question.  So naturally I started investigating.  This folder name "winsxs" stands for "Widows Side by Side".  Basically this folder keeps installation files from OS Service Packs and Windows Patches.  Can it be cleaned up?

     Microsoft doesn't support deleting things from this directory manually.  If it's getting out of control though, it can somewhat be cleaned a "little".  I want to stress "little".  For the standard patches, there is no way to really clean what's in this directory.  This is total failure on Microsoft's part.  However, the Service Packs are created with cleanup tools for this directory.  In other words, it can remove the installation files from Service Packs.  The way to clean up the Service Pack installation files differ from OS to OS though.  Keep in mind if you do remove these installation files you can not roll back the Operating System to the previous OS state (i.e. before you installed the SP, well I guess technically you could on a desktop OS with System Restore, but that's beside the point!)  

To clean up SP2 on Windows Vista & Server 2008

1.  Launch a Command Prompt as an admin.

2.  Type the following command "compcln.exe" & press enter.

3.  It will ask you "This operation will make all service packs and other packages permanent on this computer.  Upon completion you will not be able to remote any cleaned packages from this system.  Would you like to continue?"

4.  Press "Y" to this and it will start cleaning on the SP2 components.  It will take a few minutes.


To Clean up SP1 on Windows 7 & Windows Server 2008 R2

1.  Launch a Command Prompt as an admin.

2.  Type the following command "DISM /online /cleanup-image /spsuperseded" & press enter.

3.  It will not ask you to confirm anything.  When it is done you will get a "Service Pack Cleanup operation completed."  "The operation completed successfully". message.