WSUS Server Cleanup Wizard Hangs on “Deleting unused updates…”

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WSUS is a great product for the price.  It is certainly not something that should be used for large scale enterprise organizations, but it could be used in that manner if options were limited.


  • The price can’t be beat
  • Performs very well with Microsoft updates
  • WAN bandwidth usage can be reduced by creating a local store of required updates
  • Provides the ability to manage Microsoft updates from a centralized location
  • Works “out of the box” with very little configuration required


  • Limited to Microsoft updates
  • Seems to require constant attention and pampering
  • Limited options and features compared to other 3rd party products
  • Can require a significant amount of space especially if misconfigured

WSUS is a tool, when used correctly, can reduce the administrative overhead of applying Microsoft updates significantly and for small to medium size organizations I recommend and implement it regularly.


When attempting a WSUS server cleanup, the wizard hangs on the step “Deleting unused updates…”.

The C:\WSUS folder (or the location where the updates are downloaded), may contain a large number of files and consume a significant amount of disk space:

  • 50-200 GB of content
  • 5000-10,000 files in several hundred folders

It has been the experience that usually these numbers will continue to increase until something fails due to low disk space on the drive.  Because the C:\ drive is the system drive, when all of the free space is consumed, services and other critical applications may stop and fail to restart.

The WSUS Server Cleanup Wizard is a great automatic way to clean up the WSUS server and normally does a great job removing unused update files, cleaning up the database, etc.  Selecting all of the options is the default (shown below) and usually the settings used when running the cleanup:

  • Unused updates and update revisions
  • Computers not contacting the server
  • Unneeded update files
  • Expired updates
  • Superseded updates

The cleanup wizard may appeared to hang on the following step:

Deleting unused updates…

Even letting the wizard run for a day or two will not move things past this step.

Running the WsusDBMaintenance SQL script is a potential solution, but probably won’t provide better results in the cleanup wizard. Unfortunately, when running the Server Cleanup Wizard again, the results will be the same (i.e. hanging on the “Deleting unused updates…” step).


This seems to be encountered when the database holding the WSUS update information is corrupted although this has not been verified.


To prevent the cleanup wizard from hanging, run the Server Cleanup Wizard once again, only selecting the first option (Unused updates and update revisions).  The time required for the “Deleting unused updates…” step will still require a significant amount of time, however it should be allowed to run to completion and the observed results when it is complete should show that a large number of updates and update revisions have been deleted, for example:

Unused updates deleted 3082
Unused update revisions deleted: 5448

Running the Server Cleanup Wizard again, but this time only selecting the third option (Unneeded update files) is the second step.  When this finishes, the observed results should provide something like the following:

Disk space freed by deleting unused content files: 15000 MB (where 15000 MB will vary based on the amount of update files being removed)

The freed up disk space can be verified by checking the properties of the C:\WSUS folder.

Other potential steps for resolving this issue (although not verified):

Database reindexing and disk defragmentation

Database reindexing and disk defragmenting can play a big part in the Server Cleanup Wizard performance.

  1. Stop the database engine and Update Services service.
  2. Run a full disk defragmentation.
  3. Restart the database engine and run the Database Maintenance script described in the WSUS Operations Guide section Reindex the WSUS Database.
  4. After reindexing, run the Server Cleanup Wizard, and then reindex again after running the Server Cleanup Wizard.

Microsoft Recommended Best Practices

A Microsoft MVP suggests the Server Cleanup Wizard should be run at least once a month, and the soonest after Patch Tuesday the best (like Wednesday morning is good). If the WSUS server is synchronizing Defender or Forefront updates, then the Server Cleanup Wizard should be run *weekly*. (If there’s any doubt, go survey how much content is downloaded into the Definition Updates classification in any given week.)



Last Updated On October 24, 2017