Over time you may have noticed that your PC's hard disk space is slowly disappearing, and you can't figure out a good reason why that is. Each month Microsoft releases updates for Windows and other Microsoft applications. Each update installation creates a separate backup directory that contains the replaced files in the event the update needs to be rolled back. With the number of OS and application updates from Microsoft released each month, this can steadily accumulate and steal disk space.
In the past, I've actually gone through and removed older update directories on customers' PCs to help free up needed room, but that's not generally a best practice, particularly when removing something important too soon may cause update uninstall or rollback issues.
Microsoft has just released a new add-on (but, they call it a Hotfix for some reason) for Windows 7 computers running SP1. The new Windows Update Cleanup installs and plugs in to the standard Windows 7 Disk Cleanup wizard maintenance utility. Once installed, Windows Update Cleanup becomes just another option you can choose in the wizard.
Of course, there are a couple caveats:
- After cleanup you may be unable to roll back to a superseded update.
- Administrator permissions is required to use the Windows Update Cleanup option.
And, to make the new option show up in the list of files to delete, you have to select the Clean up system files option on the initial Disk Cleanup screen.
So, how effective is it?
One person who has used it already reported that it saved over 400 MB on a computer image that was created only a month ago. That may not seem like much considering how large some application installations can be, but when you can't work due to low disk space it could keep you going until additional, more permanent, measures can be taken.
You can download the utility (Hotfix) from here: Windows Update Cleanup
There's a download available for both x86 and x64. Windows 8 comes with this feature already installed and ready to go.