Windows

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.

35 comments
pau_l
pau_l

I tried installign SP1 and says it has already installed so I tried to use this method to uninstall SP1 and finds that it is not installed. any help? thanks

erpickell
erpickell

Unbelievable! I recovered just shy of a GB of space! Woo-hoo!

Mehul Bhai
Mehul Bhai

Is there any such thing for Windows XP???

bryce
bryce

I've not yet done much with Vista, but I'm guessing it's like XP, in that does it also have lots of uninstall folders for patches that have been applied? Since the patches are rolled up in the service pack - is there a way to remove the uninstall folders for all the patches included in the service pack? Even better would be a way to do it for XP? Regards, BryceS.

pgit
pgit

One question; how do you get the blue background in the terminal?

jim
jim

Took 2 minutes and removed 800 mb as promised. Thanks.

cruiz1
cruiz1

After I upgraded to SP1, my access is denied to my Local Settings and Cookies to name a few system files. How do I get my access back?

taurus_501
taurus_501

I have to try this method& then only i can tell u if all is well Thanks guys.Rajan

byn99
byn99

I think it is a great idea for me, SP1 is working fine with my Vista Ultimate and I need all the space I can get.Thanks Bryan.

jdev1
jdev1

13 April 2006 Using Registered Windows Vista Business with Windows update SP 1 installed. Executed vsp1cln here is what follows; This operation will make Windows Vista Service Pack 1 permanent on this computer Upon completion you will not be able to remove Windows Vista Service Pack 1 from this system Would you like to continue? (Y/N): respond ?Y? Performing Windows Vista Service Pack 1 Disk Clean-up? Windows Vista Service Pack 1 Disk Clean-up cannot be run on this install

stephen.floyd
stephen.floyd

I have been using Vista Business for some time and have updated to SP1, I have had no problems with Vista at all and will happily remove the remnants from my computer (after I have cloned the disk first)

GBot
GBot

Great tip, thank you! Using Vista SP1 since it was RTM without probs. You just freed up space that I didn't realize was missing :)

Hiawatha
Hiawatha

I received this message when executing vsp1cln.exe: Windows Service Pack 1 Disk Clean-up cannot be run on this install. Very dissapointing. However, Vista is running fine with SP1. I am mystified as to what caused this message and how the situation can be corrected.

FiOS-Dave
FiOS-Dave

And you can save another 600k (approx) by removing vsp1cln.exe AFTER your successful uninstall! Dave

moosh101
moosh101

I will give it a week or so and then, if all seems ok, I will run the tool. With hard disk space not so much of an issue these days, well for me at least, I think caution is in order, you know - just in case!. Thanks for the advice of how to do it.

charlyg09
charlyg09

This article sims very interesting to me. Thamks.

Photogenic Memory
Photogenic Memory

I was thinking of actually installing Windows Vista at home. I use a laptop at work with it. It's lame as hell and minorly useful. As long as I can access a shell; I'm happy! Forget the gui nonsense. Anyways, I was wondering; if this is going to generate problems down the line. For example; some type of software update from MS or a 3rd party app that needs a .dll or other libary from the original install? Hopefully not! But banking on the problems my friends have experienced and what I've read; I think another Vista chicken may come home roost by doing this! With that having been said; just shy of an OS re-install, I think leaving the old files would be okay. You never know what's around the corner, right? On a security note; however, leaving old exploitable programs and libary's on a system can lead to exploits. Does anyone feel the same way about this Vista SP1 feature?

ARAHIGIHS
ARAHIGIHS

Worked great and I reclaimed just under 800mb of hard drive space. I have not experienced any problems so far...

Haligonian
Haligonian

I probably will use this tool, but not because I think Vista is "functioning perfectly" since I installed SP1. But the fact is, it wasn't functioning perfectly before I installed SP1. At least it's no worse with SP1 installed.

kumpe70
kumpe70

I just removed the remnants. My system was working just fine with the update. I haven't encountered any problems with sp1 and my system actually seems to be reacting quicker. The removal process took a whole thirty seconds to finish on my system. I didn't take a look at the hard disk space so I can't say what it did do there. But I'm just looking for a few quick ways to clear up some free space now until I can get another hard drive. I will let anyone know if I have any problems in the near future.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

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? And, if you have already run the removal tool, have you come to regret it?

Ron_007
Ron_007

I'll be using it after I do an image copy. I'd like to know if there is a similar tool for the Office Service Packs too?

tbirdsimplemuse
tbirdsimplemuse

Right click title bar of cmd.exe window. Select properties Click Colors tab and set colors Click Ok and then click the radio button with the text "Save properties for future windows with same titles"

etruss
etruss

I downloaded the SP1 update instead of using Windows Update because I had three computers to update. On the two where I've already installed it, the SP1 update does not appear in the list of updates. As for the third, I had heard that there were possible problems and that the update would not be offered for those systems with "problematic" drivers. Because of this, I checked Windows Update on each before doing the update. The third computer, a laptop, is not offered the update. From the information I could find, it was supposed to be because of my sound driver. Yesterday, I was offered an update of this sound driver to a level that should have allowed me to update but it is still not offered. I guess I'll have to wait on this one a little longer. No problems at all on the other two - one Home Premium and the other Ultimate. I'll probable remove the install files soon - after my next full backup.

information
information

In all My years of Service Packs. Starting in particular with Windows NT, I never thought twice about removing a Service Pack. Or having to rebuild my system over after an install. I did rebuild my personal Vista Utimate computer first before putting the SP on. However, I think it is a shame I'm actually concerned about removing all those extra files that can undo the SP. We did not need features like this in times past for the Service Packs. If a Service Pack is still buggy then it has no buisness being released.

kennethpletz
kennethpletz

Thanks for the tip - I hate clutter and junk !! It worked just as you said.

ftemplin1465
ftemplin1465

Thanks for the 'removal tool' tip, but haven't tried it yet, because: Installed Vista SP1 end of March. Didn't notice any problems then. But in late June I noticed I did not have "User" access to "Programs and Features". List had been "disabled by administrator". I do have Administrator access to "Programs and Features. Don't know the cause. It's either Vista, SP1, unsafe surfing, or operator error. ps - thanks for the 'blue-screen' tip.

donald.laing
donald.laing

used the tool worked perfectly saved 1.7 GB on my harddisk 3mins. everything seems ok afterwards. What the world needs is more geniuses with humility, there are so few of us left. DL.

jun_delossantos
jun_delossantos

SP1 is working fine with me...I'd just use the SP1 files removal tool and it's done in less than a minute.I recovered around 800MB of disk space. Thanks for the tip.

pgit
pgit

Don't use windows myself, but when I do it's mostly at the prompt. For some reason white on black is tough on these old eyes.

william.j.douglass
william.j.douglass

I disagree- If an OPERATING SYSTEM is still this buggy, then it has no business being released. :-) I have Vista SP1 from an ISO and will DEFINITELY be saving the disk. There's no reason that I need to clutter up my laptop (small 80gig HD) with the RIDICULOUS "just in case you need to install or uninstall" files that Vista has been plagued with. Seriously- After uninstalling the trial of Office07 I still found hundreds of megs of "install files" hidden in case I changed my mind later.. Plus these SP1 files... Sigh... So I guess I really do agree. :-)

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

When a Maker loads a system with a OS with a Service Pack the Install Disc is made with the Service Pack and lacks the older files that are necessary to remove the Service Pack. Effectively what happens with a Install Disc with the Service Pack built in is that it becomes a Base Install without any extras so you can not remove what has never been present on this computer. Col

Rhodent
Rhodent

How do I remove them? William - where can I found those M$ Office files you are talking about? I've recently removed Office 2007 from my machine, and trying to reclaim some disk space.

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