Windows Update Cleanup – Ultimate Usage Guide

Windows Update Cleanup – Ultimate Usage Guide

/ Sed Galope

What Is Windows Disk Cleanup?

Windows Disk Cleanup is a utility program pre-installed with the Microsoft Windows operating system. Its primary function is to free up disk space on your computer’s hard drive by deleting unnecessary and temporary system files.

Disk Cleanup tool analyzes your hard drive and identifies no longer needed files that can be safely removed. These can include temporary internet files, system error memory dump files, downloaded program files, and other temporary files accumulating over time.

By removing these files, Disk Cleanup can help improve your computer’s performance and free up space for new files and programs. It is a useful tool to run periodically to keep your computer running smoothly and prevent it from running out of disk space.

You’d Better Not Delete Windows Esd Installation Files in Disk Cleanup

When using Disk Cleanup, it’s important to avoid deleting one file category: Windows ESD installation files. These files are usually several gigabytes and may seem a good candidate for deletion to free up space on your hard drive. However, we strongly advise against deleting these files because they are important for the Reset this PC feature, which allows you to restore your computer to its factory settings.

If you delete these files, the feature may not work properly, and you will need to use a Windows installation medium instead if you want to perform a factory reset. Therefore, keeping the Windows ESD installation files on your computer is best.

disk cleanup

What to Delete From Disk Cleanup According to the Actual Situation

In general, it’s safe to delete most of the files and folders that appear in Disk Cleanup. However, if your computer is experiencing issues, deleting some of these items may prevent you from uninstalling Windows updates, rolling back the Windows operating system, or troubleshooting certain problems. As a result, it’s important to carefully consider your situation before choosing which options to select in Disk Cleanup.

Windows Update Cleanup

This category of files includes old versions of Windows that are currently installed on your computer. It allows you to uninstall these versions if needed. However, if you don’t anticipate needing to uninstall any Windows updates, you can safely delete these files to free up space on your hard drive.

Windows Upgrade Log Files

Windows Upgrade log files are generated during the upgrade process and can be useful in troubleshooting upgrade-related issues. However, if you are not experiencing any problems with the upgrade process, it is safe to delete these files.

System Error Memory Dump Files

The Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) is a commonly known stop error that can occur on your computer. When this happens, the system creates a memory dump file that can help diagnose the problem. However, if you have already resolved the BSOD issue, you can safely delete the associated System Error memory dump files.

System Archived Windows Error Reporting

System-archived Windows error reporting files contain error reports generated by Windows when a program crashes. These reports can help diagnose and resolve issues with the program.

Once these error reports have been sent to Microsoft, deleting them will not affect your computer’s performance. However, if you choose to delete them, you will no longer have access to these reports. Deleting these files should be based on your preference and specific needs.

System Queued Windows Error Reporting

This category is similar to System archived Windows Error Reporting but with one key difference: the error reports are not sent to Microsoft. Whether or not you delete these files should be based on your needs and preferences.

DirectX Shader Cache

DirectX Shader Cache is a collection of files generated by your computer’s graphics system that can help speed up the loading of certain applications and improve overall system responsiveness. If you delete these files, they will be regenerated as needed.

However, if you suspect that the DirectX Shader Cache has become corrupted or is taking up too much space on your hard drive, it is safe to delete it.

Delivery Optimization Files

Windows Update Delivery Optimization is a feature that allows you to download Windows updates from or send updates to other computers on your network. This can help speed up the update process and take up a significant amount of space on your hard drive.

If you find that these Delivery Optimization Files are taking up too much space or have become corrupted, it is safe to delete them using Disk Cleanup. However, if disk space is not a concern, you may keep these files on your computer.

Device Driver Packages

Device Driver Packages in Disk Cleanup contain old versions of device drivers that you can roll back to if you encounter issues with a specific device. If your computer and all its devices work properly, deleting these old driver packages using Disk Cleanup to free up disk space is safe.

Delete All System Restore Points

Disk Cleanup may display System Restore Points, created to allow you to restore your system to a previous state. You can keep these restore points for future use or delete them if you do not plan to use them.

Recycle Bin

If you no longer require the files stored in the Recycle Bin on your computer, you can use this option to delete them permanently.

Temporary Files

By selecting this option, Disk Cleanup will delete temporary files. You can ensure that temporary files that haven’t been modified in over a week and are no longer used by programs get deleted. These temporary files are usually stored in a temporary folder by programs.

Previous Windows Installation(s)

When you upgrade your Windows, your computer will keep the previous Windows system files for ten days. This allows you to downgrade your Windows within that time frame. After ten days, the previous Windows installations will be automatically deleted to free up space.

If you encounter this option in Disk Cleanup, you can manually delete these files if you do not intend to downgrade your Windows operating system.

Temporary Windows Installation Files

Temporary installation files are generated during a Windows installation or major upgrade process. However, you can safely delete these files if you are not undergoing a Windows installation or major upgrade.

These Files in Disk Cleanup Can Be Deleted Directly

You can safely delete the following options to free up disk space for new data, as they are not essential.

Windows Defender

Although Microsoft doesn’t provide much information about this option, its files appear not essential for Windows Defender. These are temporary files that can be safely removed without hesitation.

Downloaded Program Files

The folder contains ActiveX controls, and Java applets downloaded from the Internet while using Internet Explorer to view certain web pages. Deleting these files won’t affect your computer. When you visit a web page that needs the files, they will be downloaded again.

Temporary Internet Files

The files in this category are the caches generated by Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge web browsers. These caches enable the browser to load previously opened websites faster in the future. However, deleting them won’t have any significant impact on your computer. You can safely delete them using Disk Cleanup.


The thumbnail images for videos, pictures, and documents are stored here. You can safely delete them, and Windows will regenerate them automatically when you access the folder that contains the corresponding files.

Delete Old Windows Update Files by Disk Cleanup

1. Open the Start menu, type Control Panel, and press Enter.

2. Click on Administrative Tools.

administrative tools

3. Double-click on Disk Cleanup.

disk cleanup app in admin tool

4. Click Clean up system files.

clean up system

5. Mark the checkbox next to Windows Update Cleanup.

select windows update cleanup

6. If available, mark the checkbox next to Previous Windows installations. Doing so will delete Windows.old file.

7. Click OK and wait for Windows to complete the uninstallation process to delete Windows update files.

Delete Old Windows Update Files From Settings

The Settings app in Windows can also assist you with deleting your old Windows updates. Follow these simple steps to do so.

1. Press the Windows key + I shortcut to open the Settings app.

2. Click on System and select Storage.

3. Now click on Temporary files.

select temporary files

4. Select the Windows Update Cleanup and Delivery Optimization Files radio box and click on Remove Files.

5. Click on Continue to go ahead with the deletion.

Disk Cleanup Stuck on Windows Update Cleanup

Lately, numerous users have reported experiencing an issue where the Windows Update Cleanup process becomes stuck when using the Disk Cleanup tool on Windows OS. What are some solutions to resolve this problem?

Delete Contents of SoftwareDistribution Folder

The SoftwareDistribution folder in the Windows directory stores all downloaded updates for later installation. On rare occasions, you may need to remove the old updates from your PC, which will also require deleting the SoftwareDistribution folder. To begin this process, follow the steps below:

1. Open the Start menu search bar, type in services, and select the best match.

2. Locate Windows Update Service (or Windows Update), right-click on it, and then select Stop.

stop windows update service

3. After you stop the update service, you can delete the old Windows update files from the SoftwareDistribution folder.

4. Press Win + R to open the Run box.

5. In the Run dialog box, type in C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution and hit Enter. The SoftwareDistribution folder will be launched.

delete all contents in softwaredistribution folder

6. Select all files by pressing Ctrl + A and then clicking the Delete icon from the top.

7. To re-enable the Windows Update Service, follow the same method mentioned above, right-click on the Windows Update Service, and click on Start.

Run Windows Update Troubleshooter

Running Windows Update Troubleshooter can help to scan and resolve any issues related to Windows Update, including problems with purging Windows Update Cleanup that may be stuck. Here are the steps you can follow to run Windows Update Troubleshooter:

1. Right-click on the Windows Start menu.

2. Select Settings from the menu.

3. In the Settings window, click on Update and Security.

4. Click on the Troubleshoot tab, then click Additional Troubleshooters.

5. Locate the Windows Update option and click on Run the troubleshooter.

run windows update troubleshooter

Once the Windows Update Troubleshooter completes its scan and fixes any problems detected, you can verify if Disk Cleanup is stuck on Windows Update Cleanup has been resolved.

Run Disk Cleanup in Clean Boot

If you’re facing the Windows Update Cleanup stuck error, it’s likely due to software conflicts, possibly caused by third-party software. However, it can be challenging to pinpoint the exact culprit.

In such a situation, performing a clean boot and then running the Disk Cleanup utility is recommended. This will start your system with the minimum required services and eliminate the possibility of third-party software interference.

1. Press Win + R to open the Run dialog box. In the Run box, type msconfig and hit Enter.

2. On the System Configuration window, go to the Services Tab. Then check the box next to the Hide All Microsoft Services and click Disable All button.

hide all microsoft services

3. Then switch to the Startup tab. Click Open Task Manager.

open task manager startups

4. Select each startup item and click Disable. After disabling all, close Task Manager.

5. Click Apply and OK in the Startup tab of System Configuration to save changes. Restart your computer in a clean boot environment.

6. After starting your PC in a clean boot environment, you can rerun Disk Cleanup to check if the Disk Cleanup stuck on Windows Update Cleanup issue gets resolved.

Optimize Your PC Performance With Windows Update Cleanup: A Comprehensive Guide

In conclusion, Windows Update Cleanup is vital to optimizing your system’s storage and performance. By following this comprehensive guide, you can safely remove unnecessary files, free up disk space, and troubleshoot any issues related to Windows updates. Keep your PC running smoothly and efficiently with the power of Windows Disk Cleanup.

Sed Galope
Meet the author

Sedfrey is an experienced writer and editor. He's also a PC hardware and gaming enthusiast. In his spare time, he enjoys reading about the latest innovations in the PC market and finding fixes to hardware and software errors.