Microsoft

Remove all remnants of the Windows Vista SP1 installation

When you install Vista SP1, the installation procedure leaves all of the pre-SP1 files on your system in case you need to uninstall it. As you can imagine, these files, which are required to allow you to uninstall SP1 and revert back to the original version, can take up a large amount of hard disk space. In this edition of the Windows Vista Report, Greg Shultz shows you how to use the Vista SP1 Files Removal Tool.

In last week's edition of the Windows Vista Report, I showed you step-by-step how to install Windows Vista Service Pack 1. When you install Vista SP1, the installation procedure leaves all of the pre-SP1 files on your system in case you need to uninstall it. In fact, you can find SP1 listed in Programs and Features on the Installed Updates page, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

Having the ability to uninstall SP1 can cost as much as 800 MB of hard disk space.

As you can imagine, these files, which are required to allow you to uninstall SP1 and revert back to the original version, can take up a large amount of hard disk space. In fact, the files can take as much as much as 800MB.

However, if you are positive that you want to stick with Vista SP1, you can remove all the leftover files and reclaim some valuable disk space by using the SP1 Files Removal Tool. Fortunately, this tool is automatically installed on your system as a part of the SP1 upgrade procedure.

In this edition of the Windows Vista Report, I'll show you how to use the SP1 Files Removal Tool. Let's take a look.

Are you sure?

Before you run the SP1 Files Removal Tool you must be absolutely sure that your system is functioning perfectly with SP1. The reason being once you use the SP1 Files Removal Tool, you won't be able to uninstall SP1.

If you suspect that your system is encountering compatibility issues with Vista SP1, you may want to hold off on running the SP1 Files Removal Tool, because you may need to remove SP1 as a troubleshooting step. If you do, all of the original files that were replaced by SP1 will be put back into operation and you can explore your troubleshooting options.

You can find more detailed information on how to remove SP1 from your system and revert back to the original version in the Microsoft Help and Support document "How to uninstall Windows Vista SP1 as a troubleshooting step."

If you are indeed encountering compatibility issues with SP1, keep in mind that Microsoft is offering unlimited Windows Vista Service Pack 1 installation and compatibility support at no charge until March 18, 2009.

Running the SP1 Files Removal Tool

The SP1 Files Removal Tool's executable file is called vsp1cln.exe and it is located in the \Windows\System32 folder. The SP1 Files Removal Tool is designed to be run from a Command Prompt and needs administrative rights.

The best way to get started is to click Start | All Programs | Accessories and then right click on Command Prompt. When the context menu appears, select the Run As Administrator command, as shown in Figure B. When you do, a UAC appears and you'll need to respond appropriately.

Figure B

The best way to run the SP1 Files Removal Tool is from an Administrative command prompt.
Once you see the Command Prompt window, type vsp1cln at the prompt and press [Enter]. When you do, you'll see the warning I described earlier and will be prompted to continue, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C

You'll see a warning and will be prompted to confirm that you want to continue with the removal procedure.
When you type Y, the removal procedure will begin immediately, as shown in Figure D. Other than this message, and the sound of your hard disk churning away, you won't receive any other progress feedback.

Figure D

Once you confirm, the removal procedure begins immediately.
When the process is complete, you'll see a message alerting you to that fact, as shown in Figure E. On my example system, the entire procedure took just a little more than three minutes.

Figure E

It took just over 3 minutes for the tool to remove the files.

Checking the results

At the beginning of this blog post, I mentioned that having the ability to uninstall SP1 can cost as much as 800MB of hard disk space. To see exactly how much disk space was being used on my example Windows Vista Ultimate system, I checked the hard disk properties dialog box prior to running the SP1 Files Removal Tool and discovered that I had 53.3GB of free space, as shown in Figure F.

Figure F

My example system had 53.3GB of free space before I ran the SP1 Files Removal Tool.
As you can see in Figure G, once I ran the SP1 Files Removal Tool, I had 54.1GB of free space on the hard disk. After doing the math, I discovered that I had regained roughly 819MB of hard disk space.

Figure G

My example system had 54.1 GB of free space after I ran the SP1 Files Removal Tool.
I then went back to the Installed Updates page and confirmed that SP1 was no longer listed, as shown in Figure H.

Figure H

Service Pack for Microsoft Windows no longer appears in the Installed Updates page.

Will you remove the remnants?

Are you absolutely sure that your Windows Vista system is functioning perfectly with SP1? If so, will you use the SP1 Files Removal Tool to reclaim space on your hard disk? Please drop by the Discussion area and let us hear from you.

About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

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