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Windows 7: WinSXS Folder not actually consuming lots of space

19 Jun 2012   #21

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 7601 Multiprocessor Free Service Pack 1

How does one get rid of the hard links so the "properties" tab runs true?

My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Jun 2012   #22

Windows 10 Pro (x64)

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by pxfragonard View Post
How does one get rid of the hard links so the "properties" tab runs true?
You don't.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Dec 2014   #23

Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit

everyone is interested in this!

look at the time dedicated to attempting to get a true reflection of the space consumed by files alone - that is my understanding of the issue here (unable to understand true folder size, ignoring hardlinks)

Many others asking for similar

I use the amazing TuneUp Utilities, and the Disk Space Explorer has excellent filtering options.. but nothing for "ignoring hard-links"

The previous tool I used (treesize) does have that option... but apparently only as an option in it's duplicate file finding functionality.

solution: try and ignore the gargantuan growth of the windows folder?

Almost every atom of me is screaming don't do this
My System SpecsSystem Spec

11 Dec 2014   #24

Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit
keep it simple! listen to pparks!

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by pparks1 View Post
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Belgarionbg View Post
Lets make it simple. So that space exist but is not usable in normal everyday way. That I wanted to know :)
You aren't making it simple, you are not understanding it completely.

1). Some of the files, are real files. They really take up some space on your hard drive. These reduce the amount of space available to store files and install applications.
2). The other items are hardlinks to files that exist someplace else on the hard drive. Now, the real true physical file exists and WILL decrease the amount of space that is really on your hard drive. The hardlinks are NOT real physical files and DO NOT consume disk space on your hard drive.

Go back to my example recently.
  • I started with 44.9GB of free disk space.
  • I copied in a "REAL" file that was about 650MB in size
  • My hard drive space dropped to 44.2GB of free disk space. This is what applications have access to and represents how much stuff I can copy onto my hard drive before it's full.
  • I then created numerous hardlinks and made it appear that my C:\Windows\aTestFolder had almost 4GB of stuff in it.
  • I demonstrated that TreeSize free would report an increased size of my C:\windows folder and would report that C:\windows\aTestFolder was 4GB in size.
  • But looking at my command prompt showed that my free drive space stayed consistent at 44.2GB of free space. it's the same amount of space that I had above, applications still have access to the exact same amount of free space. (even though I magically created what appears to be 4GB folder called C:\windows\aTestFolder)
  • I could have made 500 hard links to that same file and made it appears that my C:\windows\aTestFolder was (500 x 650MB) was 325GB in size. Treesize free would show a 325GB folder, and Explorer would show a 325GB folder if I looked at properties. All miraculously on my 80GB hard drive.
  • Even with 500 hard links to the file, my command prompt would continue to show 44.2GB of space free. (Because none of these hardlinks actually decrease the amount of free space on your hard drive.

So,'s not like the space exists and you cannot use it in everyday use. The space that is free can be demonstrated with a command prompt or looking at Windows Explorer...or the bottom of the TreeSizeFree window. The hardlinks DO NOT, and HAVE NOT reduced the amount of free space on your hard drive. The amount of hardlinks have never counted against you.

the 4.2GB worth of hardlinks you discovered have NOT reduced your available free space by 4.2GB. In fact, if they did actually count against you, instead of having 8GB of free space on your hard drive, it would actually drop to 4.

I've read a few pages this morning on this winsxsx and hardlinks and actual folder size thing. On this thread pparks is the only one who is clear enough with his explanation for me to glean any insights.

VERY surprised re the apparent absence of apps developed to deliver info on (what I would class as) actual folder size...

So I understand (thanks to pparks clear workings :) why this misunderstanding occurs...
My question is: how do we use this info to work out folder size (files only) as efficiently as possible?

I can imagine it could involve subtracting (actual) free space from (actual) volume size ... and then I get stuck....

If we could identify hard links, count them recursively, and subtract that from reported folder size, would that work?


My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Dec 2014   #25

Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit

finddupe c:\windows\** -listlink

Files: 16722836 kBytes in 83506 files
Dupes: 1600291 kBytes in 11492 files
12 files of zero length were skipped
18 files could not be opened

This is a clean build, with zero windows functions installed.

I calculate that 1.526(GB) of windows is duplicates; taken from reported (16.23) that makes windows ~ 14.704GB

on winsxs

Files: 13417882 kBytes in 59325 files
Dupes: 1108638 kBytes in 7692 files (1gb)
2 files could not be opened

great article here, the author claims his 5Gb winsxs is only ACTUALLY 1.5 GB (references hardlink scanner, broken link )

I'm wasting so much time being obsessive compulsive over this because I'm trying to get as small a footprint on my base VHD as possible.

Would love to hear if anyone else has similar figures to the author, and especially if anyone has a copy of hardlink's installer / URL they can share.

thanks again
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Dec 2014   #26

Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit

found hardlink scanner (thanks james ross!)

Does anyone know what params to give hardlink scanner to ascertain how much of a folder (winsxs, for example :) is actually extra hardlinks?

ie how to do

EN only:

Full size: 6.18 GB
Hard links: 4.80 GB
Normal files: 1.37 GB

Given that every file is a hardlink, and we're interested in files with more than one hardlink, I tried

"Hardlink Scanner.exe" c:\windows/winsxs /c 2
(count: 2)

and got this
Naive file size: 10,305,500,773
Unique file size: 9,129,396,568 ( 88%)
Difference: 1,176,104,205 ( 11%)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Dec 2014   #27

Windows 7 Pro 64 bit

It is important to understand that the folder size reported (by any utility) is at best only an approximation. There are numerous issues involved, hard links being only one. The problem is inherent in any file system but particularly so in complex file systems like NTFS. This blog entry explains this in more detail:

Computing the size of a directory is more than just adding file sizes - The Old New Thing - Site Home - MSDN Blogs

The author of the blog is Raymond Chen, a Microsoft developer since prior to Windows 95.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 WinSXS Folder not actually consuming lots of space

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