Long story short, especially since I'm STILL in the process of restoring my puter over a month later, I kept getting Windows nagging me, saying I was running out of space on my 150 GB, SSD, C: drive, and as I've done counless times before, I used the built-in Windows CleanUp tool (cleanmgr.exe) to clear out any muck and mire laying around, until I came across a (now confirmed as a bug) strange thing showing in it's list of things available to delete ...
It said I had 3.99 TB (that's TERAbytes for anyone not in the know. IOW, a mega -ton of space) of space being hogged up by Windows Installation Files, "that are completely free to be deleted!". . Strange, since my largest drive is a USB external 4 TB drive, where I don't have Windows set to store anything during updates, and I know dang well that nuking all 4 TB on that drive would be a disaster of epic proportions, right on par with the flooding of the Earth back in Noah's era, especially since at least 2 TB of it is used by completely unrelated files.
I ended up leaving that alone, and using another (great) program called TreeSize, which shows what folders eat up what amount of space on any given drive. In my case, it showed my Windows/WinSXS folder eating GIGS of space. This led me to do a pretty exhaustive search of Google to see exactly what WinSxs is for (drivers, btw). I came across numerous (and almost entirely, unfortunately) forums where people were essentially saying, in a nutshell, it's safe to delete everything in it.
Uhhhhmmm, delete all the driver info in a system folder? You sure bout that, Jack? (I thought to myself). Well, like a scrub, I went completely against my very experienced (and physically growing) gut, and sent the entire contents of the folder to the Recycle Bin, as I cringed and winced the entire way. Well ... tried to send it all, since only some of them would go by their own free will, and most said I had the wrong permission, even as Administrator, to do so.
Soooo, what do I do? I use my almighty STaRDoGG powers to override that tiny lil warning, and start messing with permissions, so that essentially I'm the Overlord of the Universe, and delete them anyway. WTG.
Rest assured, I was still cringing while doing so.
Sure enough, Windows gives me a BSOD while deleting. So, one would think all you'd need to do is restore them from the Recycle Bin, and we're golden, right? Nahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!
Thus began my adventure into the very bowels of computer Hell.
Story to be updated later, with the gory deets. But make it known, that if I could reach my hand through the internet and choke every last person on every last forum who said it was "safe to clear the WinSxs folder" ....