Fortunately, there's an easy way to clear out the clutter with tools that are provided in Windows itself (imagine that). While needing to do some extra work to save hard-drive space isn't ideal, at least the option is there. Here's how to clean out old update files, and regain more space for cute kitten GIFs.
Before you get started, make sure you've installed all recent Windows 7 updates.
Step 1: Open the Start menu, type cleanmgr in the search box, then hit Enter. Disk Cleanup will ask you where Windows is installed.
Once it has completed this process, you may have to press the button that says "Clean up system files." If you don't see a button, the required options should already be in your list (more on this later).
Step 2: Make sure to check the box next to Windows Update Cleanup and any other files you would like to clean (honestly, all of them) and click OK. Now Disk Cleanup is deleting all of the files for each selection that was made.
(Optional) Step 3: Another option you might want to take advantage of is cleaning out old System Restore files and Shadow Copies. You can do this by clicking on the More Options tab at the top and selecting "Clean up" under System Restore and Shadow Copies. This deletes all but the most recent of each.
Have a Windows space-saving tip to share? Let me know in the comments below.