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Windows 7: Moving the winsxs folder

13 Jul 2011   #11

XP, Vista, W7, all flavors

I went ahead and looked at the winsxs folder using a tool called ctts.exe (calculates usage and then subtracts the amount due to duplicated inodes). Mine is a pretty fresh install, and I have 6.05GB in there + 98MB due to hard links.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Jul 2011   #12

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

Hmmm...might have to revist this topic under Windows 7 to see if there are not as many hardlinks as MS led people to believe. If there are legit files in C:\windows\winsxs..they would take space. But my understanding was that these files were Mostly (80%+) hardlinks. However, ctts.exe seems to say it shows my 5.8GB of C:\windows\winsxs consists of only 75MB of hard links and 5.7GB of actual files. Most everything I have read in the past was reverse of this in Technet...meaning 75MB of files with over 5GB of hard links.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Jul 2011   #13

Windows 10 Pro (x64)

Almost every single file in WinSxS is a hardlink. File that are not hardlinked in WinSxS are in hibernation, not currently in used. But moving WinSxS will not reclaim any thing. A file is only removed if all the hardlinks are removed. Link Shell Extension will give a visual indicator of all hardlinks in a directroy. As well as a tab in the properties for hardlinks.

On my system there is about 3 GBs worth of hardlinks in the WinSxS folder, it is also under 5 GB in total size.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

13 Jul 2011   #14

Windows 10 Pro (x64)

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by ultralame View Post
I went ahead and looked at the winsxs folder using a tool called ctts.exe (calculates usage and then subtracts the amount due to duplicated inodes). Mine is a pretty fresh install, and I have 6.05GB in there + 98MB due to hard links.
You used that tool in the wrong way. It needs to look at the whole drive not just the WinSxS folder.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Jul 2011   #15

Windows 7 Ultimate

hard links or not in vista anyway if you had a 20 gig drive and windows and everything else was using 5 gigs, winsxs was reporting 4.7 gigs, and you tried to add 12 gigs of files to your c drive you would get told not enough room. now in 7 they may have fixed that i honestly do not know. now once you moved the winsxs to say d in vista your free space in windows did increase by the full 4.7 gigs that winsxs was claiming it was.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Nov 2011   #16

Windows 7 Professional x64, Windows xp 32, Unbuntu 10.4, DSL, Android 3.3

I am aware that winsxs is mainly hardlinks thus it does not take up much space.
From what I have read the idea is if you uninstall a program that has a shared .dll or similar these are not deleted from the disk as the link remains in winsxs?
Thus on a fresh install winsxs should be all hard links and only technically begins to take up space when you uninstall/remove something?
Thus the file physically exists on the drive (SSD) and remains even if one link is deleted.
So why not create a symbolic link of the folder to a slower drive; most likely it won't save you any space immediately but over time you will find more of the links become "active" (ie. they are the only link to the physical data) - would this cause a physical transfer of the file from the SSD to the HD, thus saving space?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Nov 2011   #17

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 x64

If I finally understand what you are talking about, I think what you really want is one of the newer z68 motherboards with the smart response system for ssd's.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Nov 2011   #18

Windows 7 Professional SP1 32-bit

Stubborn little myth, that "WinSxS is almost all hardlinks" isn't. Most of it is actual files, and these files are actual copies of real, live system/app files.

If they weren't, then how would one ever be able to reinstall deleted files?
Where would sfc /scannow get missing/corrupted files from in order to replace them if not from winsxs?
And how would anyone be able to upgrade their Windows edition in-place without, say, a huge download?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Nov 2011   #19

Windows 10 Pro (x64)

Corazon, they are hardlinks. The reason SFC can restore files delete by using WinSxS because when you delete a hardlink the file is never truely deleted until every single hardlink to the file is deleted.

Attached is a ZIP files containing a large text file that list all the hardlinks within WinSxS from my system.

Attached Files
File Type: zip (247.0 KB, 20 views)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Dec 2011   #20

Win 7 Ultiamte x64

So basically what has been said is that this folder is reporting larger used space than is actually being used. Between this thread and the other referenced called WinSXS Folder not actually consuming lots of space
I think most of use can get a handle on what is happening.
But what about third party programs. (I'm talking about SSD drives) My SSD is 80GB. Windows 7 plus 3 or 4 of the newer games and this drive is full. (no hibernate, pagefile move to a fast HDD) Third party programs do not understand about hard links. They just ask windows how much space is available. If there is not enough, well your screwed then. It is great to now know what is going on with the winsx Dir. But that does not help real world use for SSD's
There needs to be a way to reduce or be able to move this dir to another drive (for advanced users). I have removed the SP1 backup files with dism/ & diskcleanup, & cleanmgr sageset/run, but my winsx dir is still over 10GB as windows reports it (57K of files & links) that can not be used to install other programs to the fastest drive I have.
Just for kicks, I made a back up image of my win7 instal. Then deleted 9gb of the oldest files in winsx. I got about 4gb back. I installed a couple more big programs just to fill the drive. As I suspected, when I installed the last program that needed more space than what windows explorer reported, it would not install. winsx grew some in size during this exercise. The system was stable until patch Tuesday. Installing updated hosed the win install. It would boot, then freeze, or sometimes reboot itself, but never got back to the desktop.
I want MS to put a method out in the wild to help me (us) get back that space on SSD's. 12.5% of my SSD is basically not usable, and I want it back.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Moving the winsxs folder

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