How to install the Disk Cleanup utility without Desktop Experience – Windows Server 2008/2012

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Oddly enough the Disk Cleanup tool in Microsoft Windows Server is not installed by default. And if you want to use it the whole Desktop Experience package needs to be installed on your server, which many of us want to avoid. I have written a small guide on how to avoid all that and still be able to use Disk Cleanup. Read on!

This can be done on Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2012, including R2 for both. I haven’t tested yet on Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2016 yet, but it may work there as well.

There is only two files required without any installation procedure or reboot. These are “cleanmgr.exe” and “cleanmgr.exe.mui”.

Step 1: Search the folder “%SystemRoot%\WinSxS” for “cleanmgr.exe” and “cleanmgr.exe.mui”. You will probably find the files in folders named “amd64”, “wow64” and “x86”. I have 64-bit Windows installed so I chose “amd64”.

Step 2: Copy the two files to these locations:

  • %SystemRoot%\System32\cleanmgr.exe
  • %SystemRoot%\System32\en-US\cleanmgr.exe.mui

If you use another locale than en-US, copy the mui-file to the appropriate location.

Now you are done! Just right click cleanmgr.exe and run as Administrator to get it to show you everything it can clean.

If you are lazy and want a nice icon in the start menu then create a shortcut for cleanmgr.exe and copy it to “%ProgramData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Administrative Tools”, rename it to Disk Cleanup and you are done!