I have a Server 2003 box and noticed the Windows directory is 4 gigs. I guess that's primarily Windows updates. Is it possible to clean up these updates?
As a side note, it would be cool to do this on my XP boxes if possible.
Stay away from the winsxs folder. You can kill all the ones starting with a $ and using NTFS compression.
I would advice not to touch the Windows directory, except for the directory containing temporary files : C:\Windows\Temp. You can delete all files here and ignore all error messages about files in use.
In fact, it's good practice to move this temporary directory out of the Windows directory. One does that by Control Panel / System / Advanced system settings / Environment Variables. Set the values of TEMP and TMP for both User and System.
I have a neighbor with and old computer with XP on it which someone gave to her. She's heard about internet hackers on TV and she wants to make the computer more secure and she asked for my help. Windows update is disabled on her computer for some reason. Can it be activated or will it make her computer unusable?
Obviously, she should buy a new computer with legal windows on it, but she can't afford it. Should I turn on Windows update on her computer or it would ask for some license key, so it is better to leave it as is? I use Linux, so I'm not familiar with updating Windows, let alone a pirated one, and I don't want to make her computer accidentally unusable.
I wrote this in a comment, but it's an important enough point that I think it belongs in a full-fledged answer: Users who suspect they have a pirated (or "non-genuine," as Microsoft calls it) copy of Windows should still install all security updates and service packs. Contrary to popular myth, Microsoft does not prevent non-genuine copies of Windows from downloading service packs, update rollups, critical reliability updates, compatibility updates, and most software upgrades. (After all, if a pirated computer gets malware because security updates aren't installed, it endangers us all).
Non-genuine copies of Windows are not allowed to use the Windows Update and Microsoft Updates Web sites, but they can still use the Automatic Updates client to download critical and important updates, and the update service does not check to see if Windows is genuine, forcibly download anti-piracy updates, or search for and disable pirated software on the local computer.
For more information, see this entry in the Windows Security Blog.
Really, the answer is "install Linux" but obviously you don't want to do that.
You can grab the necessary Windows updates offline and install them without activating Windows Update:
It can do, if Genuine Advantage hasn't been installed yet then it will be fine, you just can't update apart from system critical stuff.
I'd update, but make sure you don't install geniune advantage.
Remember that Windows 7 is only about £70, (http://overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=SW-124-MS&tool=3), so it's not a massive amount of money.