Software // Enterprise Applications
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11/4/2004
04:48 PM
Fred Langa
Fred Langa
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Langa Letter: A New Way To Slim Down Windows XP, Including SP2

A classic tweaking tool that began life as the freeware 98 Lite gets updated to work with XP SP2. In tests, it helped slim down a Windows XP installation by more than 50%.

Test Driving The New XPlite
I started with a completely standard installation of XP Professional using a retail setup CD that had been "slipstreamed" with all to-date patches, including SP2 (see Save an Hour Or More On XP Installs). I then applied my normal set of tweaks and adjustments so this test installation would closely mimic my real-life, daily-use XP Pro setup. (See System Setup Secrets For Windows XP, Ten Ways To Make Windows XP Run Better, and More Ways To Make Windows XP Run Better). I then ran the free CleanXP tool and ended up with a fresh, clean XP Pro installation occupying just under 1.8 Gbytes.

I then downloaded a copy of XPlite Professional ($40, from LitePC, registered it, and ran it.

XPlite's menu offers you access to some 120 separate Windows components--far more than are normally available through the Add/Remove applet in Control Panel. Clicking on any or all of the XPlite menu items will cause them to be removed from the operating system in a later step.

XPlite offers an easy-to-navigate interface. You simply click to select which components, or group of components, you wish to remove. Later, you can re-run XPlite and use the same interface to restore any features you wish.
(click image for larger view)
XPlite offers an easy-to-navigate interface. You simply click to select which components, or group of components, you wish to remove. Later, you can re-run XPlite and use the same interface to restore any features you wish.

As you work, XPlite displays a succinct explanation of what each component does; and the software offers warnings of interdependencies, so you won't disable desired components by unintentionally removing essential infrastructure. But if you do accidentally remove a portion of the operating system you later determine that you need, you simply can run XPlite again, and click to restore any/all components you wish.

XPlite warns you when you're about to remove a shared component that will adversely affect other components. In this way, it helps you make sure that you don't unintentionally disable more than you mean to. XPlite warns you when you're about to remove a shared component that will adversely affect other components. In this way, it helps you make sure that you don't unintentionally disable more than you mean to.
(click image for larger view)

XPlite will use System Restore, if you have it enabled; and will warn you if you don't. If you already have good backups of your system, you can disable System Restore and make Windows' footprint even smaller than otherwise. But if you prefer to leave System Restore enabled, XPlite will employ it to help ensure that all changes you make are fully reversible.

XPlite treads carefully, and will even use System Restore to try to make its operating system changes as safe and reversible as possible. But, as always, it's best to make a full disk image or backup before making any operating system changes.
(click image for larger view)
XPlite treads carefully, and will even use System Restore to try to make its operating system changes as safe and reversible as possible. But, as always, it's best to make a full disk image or backup before making any operating system changes.

For my test, I selected all 120 items for removal, and let XPlite go to work. It took about half an hour of disk thrashing, plus a reboot, but when it was done, I ended up with a minimal XP installation less than half the size of the original--53% less, to be precise--or just under 850 Mbytes (that's 0.85 Gbytes).

Removing all the components that XPlite gives access to results in a minimal installation of XP that can be less than half the size of a normal setup. Re-running XPlite lets you selectively restore any removed functions that you change your mind about, or that you later discover you need. Removing all the components that XPlite gives access to results in a minimal installation of XP that can be less than half the size of a normal setup. Re-running XPlite lets you selectively restore any removed functions that you change your mind about, or that you later discover you need.
(click image for larger view)

My test setup booted fast and ran without a hitch. Of course, the features and functions I had removed were no longer available, but they could easily be restored, if I needed them, simply by re-running XPlite.

In all, XPLite was a surprisingly easy-to-use tool that yields vastly more control over an XP setup than any other tool I've seen.

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