Cutting the fat - XP installs under 700mb

By Justin
Dec 14, 2002
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  1. Reducing XP - Laymans guide to "cutting the fat" from Windows XP


    Disclaimer - This was all done on my own time, from my own experimentation and a little web searching. I will not be held responsible for any damage done to your machine by this. I will only tell you it has worked for me, but by altering the registry and removing files from your system you can cripple and even destroy your system accidently. If you do this it is entirely at your own risk. This was done mostly for educational and entertainment purposes - If you do not know what you are doing or are afraid of a possible system restore DO NOT FOLLOW THIS GUIDE.

    Second note: I'm writing up a simple batch file that will trash all this stuff for you, and a few registry samples, to make this easier. I'll have that done in a few days.


    -----


    Basically, what we're doing here is removing as much as we can from XP while still maintaining (near)full functionality - Unlike programs such as 98lite we are not removing integrated features such as Internet Explorer. This is mostly a way to trim down on your XP install size. If you, like me, use multiple partitions and perhaps one seperate partition for OS alone, having the physical size of the OS to as small as possible can give you a nice performance boost, and of course make defragging a sub 20 minute process.

    First Step: Moving Pagefile and disabling Hiberfile.

    If you use hibernation, for the sake of this walkthrough please disable it. If you are not sure if you have it enabled, make sure the ability to see hidden files is enabled (From a folder: Tools --> Folder Options --> View --> Show hidden files and folders), then after it is, check the root of C (or wherever XP is installed) for the file hiberfil.sys. If it is there, hibernation is enabled. To disable it, open the "Power Options" control panel, select the "Hibernate" tab, and un-tick "Enable Hibernation"

    Now, to move the pagefile, if it exists on C. You can either do this manually from within the registry, or you can do this from the System control panel, under "Advanced", in the "Performance" section - click the "Settings" button, under that open the "Advanced" Tab, then select "Change" down towards the bottom. Note that after making a change here you will *have* to click "set" before selecting another drive or leaving, or it will not save the change.If you have a seperate partition, move it to that partition (at least for now).If you do not have a seperate partition, make the pagefile as small as possible. On systems with a lot of RAM (512mb+) you can safely disable it for this walkthrough, then reenable it later. If you have less then 512mb, occasionally you can get away with disabling it, but likely you will just need to set it to something small. A system with 384mb RAM can easily get away with setting it to 16mb. Just get it as small as you can.

    Restart after this.

    Second Step: Removing DLL cache

    This involves causing the SFC to stop scanning the dllcache directory, located in \%systemroot%\system32 (typically \Windows\system32), and allowing its contents to be deleted.

    This is of course optional. The DLL cache can approach upwards of 200mb compressed data. This directory is where the system file checker stores backups of many "critical" programs and libraries, and constantly compares them to the current existing ones to ensure they are the same. A file-integrity service essentially, that although is not a bad idea in the slightest, especially for shared machines or for people who are known for damaging system files, but one that is quite annoying for tweakers and for those who want to cut the fat. Although maybe it is critical to protect such programs as Notepad and the Media "Tour", it really does go overboard in many cases.

    XP Service Pack 1: You can do this without restarting and without patching your SFC library. All you need to do (in order to disable SFC from scanning the dllcache directory) is alter a single registry key. Open up REGEDIT by going to START, then RUN, then typing "regedit".

    You'll have to navigate through here to get to where this key is. This one, "SFCDisable", is located here:

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon

    By default it is set to 0. What you need to do is edit this and change it to "ffffff9d". Change that, click ok, then close regedit.

    Now, for all intents and purposes, you should now be able to open the dllcache folder in \%systemroot%\system32 and delete anything you wish at will. I have received a few reports that if you had hotfixes prior to installing sp1 that this may not work! In that case see the next step.

    XP Patched or non SP1 - The above may not always work. If "ffffff9d" is changing itself back to 0, you will have to do some hex-editing in order to disable it entirely. You'll have to be a bit more cautious in this one, however other users may want to do this as well as it disables SFC entirely, including all directories in \%systemroot%

    1) Make a copy of the SFC_OS.DLL located in \system32

    2) Open the copy in a hex editor. I still use an ancient one called PCTOOLS. The WinNT resource kit has one that functions, but of course use whatever you prefer. In this file, you'll need to find two offsets and alter their values.

    3) At offset 0xE3B8 and 0xE2B9, change "8BD6" to "9090", save and quit.

    4) Make another copy of your original SFC_OS.dll and put it somewhere safe.

    5) Now, copy your modified SFC_OS.DLL to \system32 and \system32\dllcache, overwriting the existing ones.

    6) You should get a warning about critical files being modified. Click CANCEL at the first prompt, then YES at the next prompt. (Or OK, can't recall)

    7) Restart XP

    8) Once logged in again, open the above registry entry, and change SFCDisable to 0xffffff9d (you can just type ffffff9d in the dialog) and exit regedit. Now restart XP again and you should be able to trash dllcache to your hearts desire.

    Note: Thanks JSIFaq ( http://www.jsifaq.com ) for information on modifying SFC_OS.DLL


    Third STep: Unhiding and uninstalling unneeded applications.

    By default, XP hides the ability to uninstall certain programs such as Messanger, Netmeeting, Autoupdate, et cetera, and it hides them well.

    Although yes it is true you can often simply delete the directory or executables for these programs, that can lead to problems in the future as XP still believes they are installed.

    The better, cleaner method - Is to unhide them. Locate the file \%systemroom%\inf\sysoc.inf and you will see a section called [Components]. This is for the most part all the hidden programs we can easily remove.

    At the end of each hidden appline, you will see this: inf,hide,7

    To unhide these apps all you have to do is remove the word hide. That's it! An edit / replace all will take care of these with great speed.Now, in your add/remove programs menu (in control panel), under the "Add/Remove Windows Components" you will have a nice lovely assortment of new apps that you will never use in your entire life that you may remove at will.







    grrr... stupid post size limit... ok, continued on post #2...
  2. Justin

    Justin Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 1,595

    part 2

    part 2...


    Fourth Step: Removing Windows Help

    This is not for everybody. Some people love having help around. Personally. I've never used windows help in my life and all questions I have I typically search the web for.

    Note: This removes Windows Help, not the help center or the online help database, more on that later.

    This one is simple: Open the help directory located in \%systemroot%\help and delete all the files (not the directories). Viola, you just saved dozens of mb of data.In this same directory you can remove the media Tour as well - Everything in there can be deleted except the TOUR.EXE, which is actually flash player. This will be locked - To delete this reboot in safe mode.


    Fifth Step: Removing or compressing the logfiles.

    After a fresh install and SP1 install, there will be up to 40mb of logfiles that you may safely delete. Note, however, that logfiles can contain very useful information at times. If you feel the need to keep your logfiles, I suggest making a new directory and moving all the logfiles into that directory, then compressing it.

    The largest logfiles are contained within \%systemroot%\ and \..\system32\catroot2

    Note that many of these logfiles will bring themselves back overtime as they are written again - Once you've deleted them initially, I recommend leaving them alone as they will just keep coming back.

    Sixth Step: Removing "fluff".

    Contained in many directories, including \%systemroot%\media, in the Windows Media Player "skins directory", in the %systemroot% directory, in %systemroot%\cursors, and many others, are files that you do not need if you do not wish. Mostly these include sound schemes, extra cursors, bitmap images, skins, et cetera. If you know you will NEVER use these feel free to delete them - It won't impact the system in any way. If you think that one day you may, I suggest compressing the directory they are located in. No performance is lost as you aren't using them in the first place, but they are there if you'll ever need them again.

    Seventh Step: Altering Protected file list

    Even if you disable SFC there are a few files that will always remain protected and locked, such as explorer.exe . This is a VERY GOOD THING for most people, but for some of us, it really isn't, as it prevents modifcation of these files in an easy fashion.

    Boot into safe mode.


    Open this directory: \%systemroot%\system32\RESTORE

    If you wish you may delete all the non-hidden files here... note that it cripples later restores. The file we are interested in is the hidden file filelist.xml Open this, and you will see a plethora of protected files. Use your own judgement calls here, take out what you wish to modify or remove. The one I wish to point out is the PCHEALTH directory entries.

    The PCHEALTH directory, located in \%systemroot%\, is another 25.6mb of data you can trash. You will have to unprotect it as mentioned above first, which is why we are editing that file.

    Note: I removed this safely on my box AND IT WORKS JUST FINE however note that by removing PCHEALTH you are essentially removing ANY form of online assistance and automated PC restoration - DO NOT DO THIS UNLESS YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY SURE YOU CAN TAKE CARE OF YOUR SYSTEM ENTIRELY BY YOURSELF.


    Eighth Step Disabling obscenely large memory dumps.

    I do not know if this is a default setting or not, but after a system crash, windows can write out the entire contents of memory to a file called memorydump.dmp in \%systemroot% . I suppose for debugging purposes this has a purpose, but at just some random crash it is a massive waste of space and is pointless. You can safely delete this file if it exists, and to prevent it from doing it again, in the System control panel under the "Advanced" tab, select "Settings" underneath the "Startup and Recovery" category. Change the "Write Debugging Information" option to either "Small Memory DUmp" or none at all.

    Ninth Step Compressing unused accounts and unused apps.

    Simple enough. In the "Documents and Settings" Directory, look for accounts you do not use - Typically there is an Administrator account that is hidden by windows logon screen that is used only when booting to safe mode. You can compress this to save a few MB of data without hindering system performance.

    Then again, in the "Program Files" directory, look for programs you do not use. If you never use netmeeting, feel free to set that directory to be compressed - IF you ever do need to use it, it will work just fine, but compressing it then saves you a little bit of space. Basically whatever you don't use go ahead and compress. Do not, however compress system components or Windows Shared Files (i.e. Common Controls) as then you will notice a huge performance decrease.





    hmm... I for the life of me cannot remember the rest of what I did. I need to document my efforts more efficiently. However I am going to continue running through this and finding more things to delete.Nothing in here is terribly advanced - Simply finding what you do not use and what can be safely removed. But then again, if you do not know

    what you are doing or are afraid of having do to a system restore then DO NOT FOLLOW THIS GUIDE - It is mainly intended to educational and entertainment purposes only.


    Anyways... as I proceed I will add more, feel free to help me along and add any other things you might know about that I have missed or

    forgotten to add. Enjoy,

    ~ Soul
  3. Justin

    Justin Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 1,595

    p.s. - stay tuned for my tweak guide. going to complie the largest assortment I can.
  4. Justin

    Justin Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 1,595

    Addition - It might be a good idea to do the [Components] unhiding section first.
  5. Justin

    Justin Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 1,595

    Is anyone interested in this at all? If so I can create a simple app to do the majority of this.



    edit


    UPDATE:


    The following folders are considered "safe" to delete:

    "Web"
    "ehome" (after service pack 1 install)
    "Addins"
    "repair"
    "Cursors"


    Don' recall if I mentioned those above

    I also have removed PCHEALTH on some systems and they seem fine.
  6. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 Newcomer, in training Posts: 6,504

    why not consolidate into one post?
  7. Soap

    Soap Newcomer, in training Posts: 96

    if i finall y get around to putting xp on my second computer i would be interested it. this one runs 2000 and im quite happy to stick with it on this machine. but the other machine has 98se.
  8. ---agissi---

    ---agissi--- TechSpot Paladin Posts: 2,382   +15

    I think an app to do all this would be groovy. I'd download it. Also, I absolutely HATE that dog on the search. Man, I just hate the WinXP search. Win2000 has the best edition, and I use "search" alot, so :p anyway to restore the good stuff?

    Thanks :D
  9. Th3M1ghtyD8

    Th3M1ghtyD8 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 794

    What about deleting of the Windows Driver files, that are stored by default on WinXP, these probably take up 50Mb or so, and once your machine is set up, it wouldn't matter. The only reason they are there AFAIK is to stop you having to insert the CD every time you change hardware settings. (Like in Win98)
  10. negroplasty

    negroplasty TechSpot Maniac Posts: 531   +11

    Agissi, this is for you, since you hate the puppy dog so much (WinXP Pro). If you have XP home, it will not work; there are other tweaks to get rid of the dog at TweakXP for Home, good luck :grinthumb !
  11. Justin

    Justin Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 1,595


    I will try this tonight, and tell you how it goes. If it works, you're right, that's another 50-80mb gone, which is great! A dozen more MB or so and I could possibly get XP a tad under 450mb.
  12. ---agissi---

    ---agissi--- TechSpot Paladin Posts: 2,382   +15

    Thanx timmore, I do have WinXP-Pro so i'll check out that link...
  13. catfish

    catfish Newcomer, in training

    i would also like to download a program to make this lite version of XP for you. i want to make a ghost image that will fit XP onto 1 cd.

    Is there a way to get your favourite user application installers and make then install automatically by a script or batch file? I have all the programs install files that I use on hard disk, and when i reinstall XP i have to reinstall everything again. If I could make a script that will automatically install all these programs it would be good.

    I could burn all the app installers onto CD as well and install them from that instead of on HDD.
     
  14. iss

    iss TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,896

  15. enduser

    enduser Newcomer, in training Posts: 26

    An application would be great. Test it out and put it on some websites like Webattack. I'm sure lots of people would like it.
  16. TigerXP

    TigerXP Newcomer, in training

    Great work Soul Harvester - I want to boot XP from RAMDrive - I have 1GB sys RAM - So I want to size down windows - Thanks.
  17. Mictlantecuhtli

    Mictlantecuhtli TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 4,916   +9

    *bump*

    What about now, XP has Service Packs, have you cut the fat with them, Soul Harvester?
  18. Justin

    Justin Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 1,595

    Interesting question. I will begin researching this tomorrow in SP2.
  19. blockhead

    blockhead Newcomer, in training

    Greetings, fellow travelers.
    I have just "discovered" this conversation and am interested to know if the guide in question has been completed and is available for use.
    Soul Harvester, I am very impressed by your knowledge.
  20. mouseworks

    mouseworks Newcomer, in training

    RE: Trimming XP & file protection

    Try this they have demo version but I recommend the paid-for Pro...

    http://www.litepc.com/xplite.html

    "A Smaller Footprint Windows!
    The latest developments in XPLite now see clean installations of Windows XP in under 350MB and Windows 2000 approaching less than 200 MB (excluding paging file) with much smaller memory requirements! These sizes are obtained simply by running XPLite/2000Lite on a fresh install of windows."

    That's a blurb from their site, and personally I find it to be way on the conservative side. I've managed to safely trim my XP Pro to 249MB, with everything working flawlessly. Put that together with Acronis True Image to make a backup image of your boot drive and you're golden.

    I've been using litepc products for over a decade and they deliver! This puppy lets you turn file protection on & off at will, LIVE, don't have to reboot to kill pesky files.

    mouseworks
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