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Windows 7: Windows folder size is huge and taking over my hard drive - by design?

29 Oct 2011   #1

Windows7 64bit Home Premium
Windows folder size is huge and taking over my hard drive - by design?

I've been working on a thorough system cleanup in an attempt to get my hard drive usage down to a minimum. The Windows folder (C: Windows) has been by biggest obstacle. I couldn't believe it was taking up 22GB of space even after running both CCleaner and Windows Disk Cleanup. I've been reading and researching all night, both on this forum and elsewhere and the answer appears to be that "winsxs" (inside the Windows folder and now at 11GB on my system) is designed to continue growing endlessly as it adds more dll files every time you install a program and it never deletes the files even after you've uninstalled the program. This explains why I see reports of people's Windows folder ranging from 10MB to 34MB. Wow, I remember just a couple years ago when WindowsXP, all my programs, documents, photos and audio files only took up 20 to 25GB.

I'm not inclined to be a complainer or criticize people who have built an entire operating system when I still struggle to point, click and make a program work. I'm thoroughly impressed with people who can design, program and create such an impressive and infinitely complex object as an operating system. Nevertheless, it does strike my simplistic, common sense mind as being a bit regressive to go from an OS (XP) that takes up 7GB on my old system to one (7) that takes up 22GB on my new system - and all to run pretty much the same software and do pretty much the same things, at least from a users point of view.

So if I'm understanding this situation correctly (please correct me if I'm wrong and there is a way to clean out some of those dlls and get my OS back to 10-15GB of disk space), then I guess I'm asking that someone pass along the idea of designing future systems so that old dlls can be deleted and the OS will never grow beyond the size of the original install + updates + dlls for just those programs currently installed. Meanwhile, I'll definitely be sticking to XP on my older systems that have less disk space.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Oct 2011   #2

Operating System : Windows 7 Home Premium Edition 6.01.7600 SP1 (x64)

hi and welcome to the forums :)

here is a good program to see what disk space is being used in real time, its called windirstat link >>>> WinDirStat - Windows Directory Statistics

Attached Thumbnails
Windows folder size is huge and taking over my hard drive - by design?-brys-snap2011.10.2915h53m07s001.png   Windows folder size is huge and taking over my hard drive - by design?-brys-snap2011.10.2916h00m30s002.png  
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Oct 2011   #3

Windows7 64bit Home Premium

I actually heard about WinDirStat elsewhere on this forum while researching the matter and downloaded and ran it. It confirmed what already appeared to be the case - 21.6GB in the Windows folder and 11.4GB in winsxs (see image below - I hope - if not, it's at 4shared folder - Other). I also heard that the Windows Explorer file size estimate for winsxs might not be accurate, so I took the total amount of data shown to be on the "C" drive (according to "My Computer") and subtracted all of the folders listed within the C drive except the Windows folder. The result showed 21.6GB remaining in the Windows folder, confirming what WinDirState is showing me.

Fortunately I have a large enough hard drive on this system that it's not really a big deal. However, it does show that in the 11 months that I've had this computer, the size of the Windows folder has grown by about 10GB. If that trend keeps up, in a few years I'll find myself rebuilding the system from scratch just to get rid of the bloat in the Windows folder.

My System SpecsSystem Spec

29 Oct 2011   #4

Windows 7 Professional SP1 32-bit

Have to say this is a bit unusual... The size of your winsxs folder is completely within average numbers, but outside of winsxs, the remainder of the Windows folder shouldn't take another 10GB of space. My own Windows folder occupies just about 7GB on my computer, 3.87GB out of which is used by winsxs. (I do run a pretty lean and minimalistic system though, typical numbers will be a bit higher than mine.)

I can only guess that some log files have grown out of bounds, or software that had no business installing files into the Windows folder (except drivers) did just that and then didn't clean up after itself.

Two other possibilities are the C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\Download folder, which holds copies of all the Windows updates ever downloaded. For some dumb reason, these updates are never deleted after being installed, even though the contents of the download folder serve no further use. So that's one folder you can completely delete if you wish.

Then there's the question of whether you installed Service Pack 1 some time after first installing Windows 7. If yes, it also leaves a host of backup files that aren't needed if you don't wish to ever uninstall SP1. There's a special command to delete these backups - it escapes me at the moment but someone will fill you in I'm sure.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Oct 2011   #5

Windows 7 Pro-x64

It's not as big as being reported.

WinSXS Folder not actually consuming lots of space
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 Oct 2011   #6

Windows 7 Professional SP1 32-bit

It still comes close however. Regardless, this is about the contents of the Windows folder outside of winsxs.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 Oct 2011   #7

Operating System : Windows 7 Home Premium Edition 6.01.7600 SP1 (x64)

Windows temporary files
temporary files are usually leftovers from previous installations of various applications or documents once needed by Windows to run certain task. These files can in a time grow large if not deleted once in a while.

Bear in mind that Windows temporary files are not the same as Internet temporary files which specifically belong to Internet Explorer and internet traffic. IE will remain intact.

To view temp files press simultaneously win logo+r key to open run box. Type in %temp% and you are going to see the list of your files that can be deleted Simply select them all and press delete key.

Sometimes you are not going to be able to delete a file or two which may be locked due to being in use by Windows Explorer. Do not bother about it just skip that one.

Windows Temp File is located at C:\Users\Owner\AppData\Local\Temp but then to visit this folder & view the content, users will have to turn off the 'hidden files & folder' option.

Attached Images
Windows folder size is huge and taking over my hard drive - by design?-brys-snap2011.10.3008h36m13s001.png 
My System SpecsSystem Spec
31 Oct 2011   #8

Windows7 64bit Home Premium

All good info and I thank you all for it.

In response to 'Corazon' - I do have Service Pack 1 installed, but don't recall if it was there when I bought the system (Nov 2010) or if it was one of the updates that came since. I wasn't aware of the C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\Download folder, but just checked it and it's at only 388MB. Nevertheless, I have now removed it, so that helps a little.

In response to 'Brianzion' - My 'Temp' folder is at 350KB. Evidently it's one of the folders I ran across and cleaned up while doing my system maintenance.

As for 'Carwiz' - I had run across a post talking about winsxs being full of a bunch of links so I can't say for sure if it's really 11.4GB like is being reported. However, the overall size of the Windows folder was 21.6GB. That number was double checked by subtracting the size of all other folders in the 'C' drive from the total amount of HD space being used as reported by 'My Computer' and this agrees with the report generated by WinDirStat. I haven't done the same kind of math to verify the size of winsxs and don't intend to seeing as there are hundreds of folders and files in the Windows folder. I just ran WinDirStat again and am pasting below the sizes of all the folders within the Windows folder (limited it to those over 10MB to keep the list shorter).

Main Windows Folder - 21.2 GB (now that the 'software distribution/downlaods' folder has been deleted)

11.4 GB C:\Windows\winsxs
2.4 GB C:\Windows\System32
2.2 GB C:\Windows\Installer
1.7 GB C:\Windows\assembly
1.2 GB C:\Windows\SysWOW64
882.2 MB C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET
172.6 MB C:\Windows\Speech
158.0 MB C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution
138.3 MB C:\Windows\inf
136.9 MB C:\Windows\IME
112.5 MB C:\Windows\ehome
107.1 MB C:\Windows\Fonts
84.2 MB C:\Windows\ServiceProfiles
62.4 MB C:\Windows\Help
59.5 MB C:\Windows\Performance
57.0 MB C:\Windows\servicing
47.7 MB C:\Windows\Web
37.4 MB C:\Windows\Downloaded Installations
35.9 MB C:\Windows\Logs
29.7 MB C:\Windows\tracing
28.8 MB C:\Windows\Globalization
27.7 MB C:\Windows\Boot
26.3 MB C:\Windows\Prefetch
12.7 MB C:\Windows\Media
12.7 MB C:\Windows\twain_32
10.5 MB C:\Windows\AppPatch

I do have to admit that I've installed and removed a fair amount of software over the last year - mostly seeking the right tools for video editing, DVD authoring, file conversion, etc. Nevertheless, one would hope that would mainly affect the size of the 'Program Files' folder which is outside the Windows folder.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
31 Oct 2011   #9

Windows 7 Pro-x64

If you've ever seen a "Side-by-Side" error in your logs, this is where it originates. Winsxs is used to store DLLs that may be used by more than one program. Because some DLLs were shared across many programs, it was an attempt to stop the "Missing DLL" errors when some off-the-wall utility was un-installed and killed other common DLLs. It also helped stop overlaying newer DLLs with older versions released with some software. This was a major problem with Windows prior to XP. The Winsxs concept started with XP and continues through Windows 8 but if there's any consolation, the move is away from the Winsxs structure.

"Microsoft Visual C++ 2005 and 2008 employ SxS with all C runtime libraries. However, runtime libraries in Visual C++ 2010 no longer use this technology; instead, they include the version number of a DLL in its file name, which means that different versions of one DLL will technically be completely different DLLs now."
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Apr 2012   #10

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

Use revo uninstaller when removing a program, its free to download and even scans your hard drive for any leftover registries and dll files which windows built in uninstaller does not
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Windows folder size is huge and taking over my hard drive - by design?

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