Disk Cleanup on Windows Server 2008 Without Installing Desktop Experience

Windows Server 2008 is something every admin likes to work with (sense the sarcasm over the Internet, Dr Cooper?). 

The Problem

Believe me or not, but an essential (Windows) tool, cleanmgr.exe, is not present in Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 by default.

This is by Microsoft’s, at the very least hard-to-explain, design, who likely believe it’s more of a desktop experience feature than a must-have tool.

Why on Earth would I want to install Windows Photo Gallery and Windows Media Player on a server just to have Disk Cleanup? Moreover, it requires a server restart.

Bonus: if you want to use WebClient service, you need to have Desktop Experience feature installed too.

The Solution

Windows Server 2008 (64-bit)

Copy the following files:

> copy C:\Windows\winsxs\amd64_microsoft-windows-cleanmgr_31bf3856ad364e35_6.0.6001.18000_none_c962d1e515e94269\cleanmgr.exe C:\Windows\System32\
> copy C:\Windows\winsxs\amd64_microsoft-windows-cleanmgr.resources_31bf3856ad364e35_6.0.6001.18000_en-us_b9f50b71510436f2\cleanmgr.exe.mui C:\Windows\System32\en-US\

Run the cleanmgr.exe:

> cleanmgr.exe

Windows Server 2008 R2 (64-bit)

Copy the following files:

> copy C:\Windows\winsxs\amd64_microsoft-windows-cleanmgr_31bf3856ad364e35_6.1.7600.16385_none_c9392808773cd7da\cleanmgr.exe C:\Windows\System32\
> copy C:\Windows\winsxs\amd64_microsoft-windows-cleanmgr.resources_31bf3856ad364e35_6.1.7600.16385_en-us_b9cb6194b257cc63\cleanmgr.exe.mui C:\Windows\System32\en-US\

Run the cleanmgr.exe:

> cleanmgr.exe

23 thoughts on “Disk Cleanup on Windows Server 2008 Without Installing Desktop Experience

  1. When I installed “Desktop Experience” for disk cleanup tool, it appears “0x800F081F” error. Your article helps me and it works. Thanks so much.

  2. so much frustration over the years to remove those shitty updates setups without ruining the whole server

  3. Please don’t do this to a production server…


    Update May 15th, 2014

    We are aware of a method of copying in the appropriate Disk Cleanup/CleanMgr files into the appropriate location to avoid installing the Desktop Experience. If this were a tested and supported option, we certainly would have included these details in this post and definitely would have used this method to automate the cleanup. However, it was determined early on that this method would not be supported. If you decide to do this, do so at your own risk.

  4. I agree with KA. I have a production server that needs immediate attention and i have pending reboot on the server on the roles and features. How am i supposed to know what the app owners installed?
    This will imply 3 reboots just to add this feature, except the “bonus” reboot…

  5. Sorry, I know the is old, but… what if after installing diskcleanup, it keeps saying “Disk Cleanup cannot clean up drive C:\. Make sure thar there is a disk in the drive.”
    Yes, there is a disk in the drive. It’s the OS disk!!!
    Thanks in advance

  6. When I run it, it says I get 5 GB of extra space, but when it is finished running, I have unfortunately been 1 Gb less space, any idea?

  7. The option worked. I had an x86 version of Server 2008r2. Unfortunately, it didn’t give me the “Advanced Options” that let you clean up things like old Windows update files and such.

  8. This saved my bacon. I had next to zero disk space available and could not enable the desktop experience feature in order to get the disk cleanup utility. Thanks.

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