A: Normally when roles and features in Windows Server are removed, the files stay on the OS in the winsxs folder. This allows easy addition of roles and features in the future without having to insert media.

When Windows Server is installed, every role and features file is stored in the winsxs folder. This is generally fine because a couple of gigabytes of disk space use makes a good trade for the convenience of being able to easily add roles and features that are fully patched.

Windows Server 2012 (formerly code-named Windows Server 8) does add the ability to allow components to actually be removed from the file system, shrinking the disk footprint.

Once removed, if a role or feature is added that no longer exists on the file system, the server can download the required files from Windows Update or be pointed to another Windows Server 2012 server or the Windows Server 2012 installation media.

To remove the actual files for a role or feature, just use this Windows PowerShell command:

    Uninstall-WindowsFeature

and put

    -Remove

at the end of it. For example:

Uninstall-WindowsFeature <FeatureName> -Remove

Or use

    /remove

at the end of the DISM /disable-feature command. For example:

Dism /online /disable-feature /featurename:<FeatureName> /remove

Remember, this should only be performed if you are trying to reduce the disk footprint for a server. Don't use it just as a default, it only causes more work and network traffic when roles and features are added at a later time.

 

To see more answers about Windows Server 2012, Windows 8, virtualization, and all things IT,  click over to our FAQs page.