Growing 'winsxs' folder in Vista

By adv79 ·

I bought this computer with Vista Home Premium pre-installed, about a year ago. At that time the "winsxs" folder under the C:/Windows sized about 5.5gb. I have installed a few programs after that but not too many, and stopped installing further programs to keep the free space in C: maximum. At that time winsxs had grown up to 9gb. When I checked it again today, it has become 18+ gbs. Is there anyway to get rid some of the files in it or the only solution is to keep a high capacity hard drive?


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This seems to be about the best explanation of this Folder

by OH Smeg Moderator In reply to Growing 'winsxs' folder i ...


Update 1 From TechNet Blogs : One of the largest changes between previous versions of Windows and Windows Vista was a move from an INF described OS to componentization. A component in Windows is one or more binaries, a catalog file, and an XML file that describes everything about how the files should be installed. From associated registry keys and services to what kind security permissions the files should have. Components are grouped into logical units, and these units are used to build the different Windows editions.
All of the components in the operating system are found in the WinSxS folder ? in fact we call this location the component store. Each component has a unique name that includes the version, language, and processor architecture that it was built for. The WinSxS folder is the only location that the component is found on the system, all other instances of the files that you see on the system are ?projected? by hard linking from the component store. Let me repeat that last point ? there is only one instance (or full data copy) of each version of each file in the OS, and that instance is located in the WinSxS folder. So looked at from that perspective, the WinSxS folder is really the entirety of the whole OS, referred to as a "flat" in down-level operating systems. This also accounts for why you will no longer be prompted for media when running operations such as System File Checker (SFC), or when installing additional features and roles.
Now that you know why the store can grow to be so large, your next question is probably to ask why we don?t remove the older versions of the components. The short answer to that is reliability. The component store, along with other information on the system, allows us to determine at any given time what the best version of a component to project is. That means that if you uninstall a security update we can install the next highest version on the system ? we no longer have an ?out of order uninstall? problem. It also means that if you decide to install an optional feature, we don?t just choose the RTM version of the component, we?ll look to see what the highest available version on the system is. As each component on the system changes state that may in turn trigger changes in other components, and because the relationships between all the components are described on the system we can respond to those requirements in ways that we couldn?t in previous OS versions.
The only way to safely reduce the size of the WinSxS folder is to reduce the set of possible actions that the system can take ? the easiest way to do that is to remove the packages that installed the components in the first place. This can be done by uninstalling superseded versions of packages that are on your system. Service Pack 1 contains a binary called VSP1CLN.EXE, a tool that will make the Service Pack package permanent (not removable) on your system, and remove the RTM versions of all superseded components. This can only be done because by making the Service Pack permanent we can guarantee that we won?t ever need the RTM versions.

Update 2 From E7 Blogs : ?Modularizing? the operating system was an engineering goal in Windows Vista. This was to solve a number of issues in legacy Windows related to installation, servicing and reliability. The Windows SxS directory represents the ?installation and servicing state? of all system components. But in reality it doesn?t actually consume as much disk space as it appears when using the built-in tools (DIR and Explorer) to measure disk space used. The fact that we make it tricky for you to know how much space is actually consumed in a directory is definitely a fair point!

In practice, nearly every file in the WinSxS directory is a ?hard link? to the physical files elsewhere on the system?meaning that the files are not actually in this directory. For instance in the WinSxS there might be a file called advapi32.dll that takes up >700K however what?s being reported is a hard link to the actual file that lives in the Windows\System32, and it will be counted twice (or more) when simply looking at the individual directories from Windows Explorer.

The WinSxS directory also enables offline servicing, and makes Windows Vista ?safe for imaging?. Prior to Windows Vista, inbox deployment support was through ?Setup? only. IT professionals would install a single system, and then leverage any number of 3rd party tools to capture the installed state as a general image they then deployed to multiple systems. Windows wasn?t built to be ?image aware?. This meant that greater than 80% of systems were deployed and serviced using a technology that wasn?t supported natively, and required IT departments to create custom solutions to deploy and manage Windows effectively. In addition, state stored in the WinSxS directory can be queried ?offline?, meaning the image doesn?t have to be booted or running, and patches can be applied to it. These two features of WinSxS give great flexibility and cost reductions to IT departments who deploy Windows Vista, making it easier to create and then service standard corporate images offline.

There have been several blogs and even some ?underground? tools that tell you it?s ok to delete the WinSxS directory, and it?s certainly true that after installation, you can remove it from the system and it will appear that the system boots and runs fine. But as described above, this is a very bad practice, as you?re removing the ability to reliably service, all operating system components and the ability to update or configure optional components on your system. Windows Vista only supports the WinSxS directory on the physical drive in its originally installed location. The risks far outweigh the gains removing it or relocating it from the system, given the data described above.

I hope that is of some use to you. But depending on the size of your HDD it may be too small to run Vista Long term.


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What if I reinstall the OS?

by adv79 In reply to This seems to be about th ...

Thank you.
It makes perfect sense now.
Just wondering, what if I reformat and reinstall Vista. Wouldn't it result in the older versions being ignored and only the current useful version of .xml's being kept for every software? Of course if it works, I will have to do it once in a while to restrict the size of the winsxs.


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RE: what if I reformat and reinstall Vista

by OH Smeg Moderator In reply to What if I reinstall the O ...

Then you will start with the Basic Small file size and it will continue to increase as the system gets changed over time.

When you Format the HDD it wipes it clean and you are starting from scratch. Now if you installed a lot of things and then removed them because they where not required it may help but if you are only using what you need and Applying Hot Fixes as they become available then you will not see any difference over the Long Run.


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by adv79 In reply to RE: [i]what if I reformat ...
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Your Welcome < NT>

by OH Smeg Moderator In reply to Thanks

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