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Question about winSxS size

    Question

  • I installed a fresh vista home premium 32-bit and only have installed drivers for my system. The "winSxS" folder in windows drive is about 5 Gig!!!!! it contains 30000 files and 7500 folders!!!!!

    Is it normal? What is the purpose of this folder?
    Friday, April 11, 2008 1:25 PM

Answers

  • Mahmoodn

     

    There were several very long discussions about the WinSxS folder during the SP1 beta and at other times. Here are some notes and information.

     

    1. A size of 3 to 5 GB is normal on a clean install, depending on the version of Vista.

     

    2. The folder will increase or decrease in size as programs and updates are installed and uninstalled.

     

    3. One of the main reasons for this folder is that it is the solution to the old 'DLL Hell' problem that plagued previous versions of Windows. The assemblies in these folders contain many separate versions of system files that 'may' be needed by some programs. This folder also contains different language versions (MUI) of certain system files.

     

    WinVistaClub: The Secret Of Vista's Winsxs Folder:
    http://www.winvistaclub.com/f16.html


     

    4. This folder also contains backup copies of some system files that are used when running the SFC /scannow command (System File Checker) to replace corrupted system files.

     

    5. The folder has a 'self scavenging' component that will delete some of the assemblies which have been replaced with newer versions or if it is determined that they have become redundant.

     

    6. If you have already installed Vista SP1, there is a cleanup tool that you can use to remove all of the redundant files that the SP1 update replaced. Some of the testing that I did with this tool, resulted in a significant reduction in the size of the system drive, including reductions in the size of the WinSxS folder. (up to 3GB, in some cases)

     

    Vista SP1 Cleanup Tool instructions.

     

    ***NOTE: After you use this cleanup tool, you will no longer be able to remove Service Pack 1, should any problems occur. Make sure that the system is stable before using.

     

    ***NOTE 2: This tool is a one-time use tool. Once it's used it will no longer work on the same installation.

     

    Open Windows Explorer and navigate to C:\Windows\System32. Look for the file "vsp1cln.exe."

    Right click this file and select the 'Run As Administrator' option.

    The Vista Service Pack 1 Cleanup Tool will remove all of the redundant files that it has replaced.

    The amount of disk space you gain will depend on the system, what programs are installed, etc.

     



    Ronnie Vernon
    Microsoft MVP
    Windows Desktop Experience

    Sunday, April 13, 2008 3:38 PM
    Moderator

All replies

  • Mahmoodn

     

    Here are a couple of links that contain some good info on this directory and what it contains.

     

    Nothing ventured, nothing gained : Deleting from the WinSxS directory:
    http://blogs.msdn.com/jonwis/archive/2007/01/02/deleting-from-the-winsxs-directory.aspx

     

    Demystifying the WinSxS directory in Windows XP, Vista and Server 2003/2008 - Aaron Tiensivu's Blog:
    http://blog.tiensivu.com/aaron/archives/1306-Demystifying-the-WinSxS-directory-in-Windows-XP,-Vista-and-Server-20032008.html


     




    Ronnie Vernon
    Microsoft MVP
    Windows Desktop Experience
    Sunday, April 13, 2008 2:44 AM
    Moderator
  • So what I understand is that the content of this directory can not be removed even by administrators but if someone would like to delete it, he has to accept its respinsibility.

     

    I wonder, why winSxS in a fresh windows (with only drivers installed) occupy 5 gig?? Are 30000 files realy needed? If i install some regular programs and application then what will be the new size......

    Sunday, April 13, 2008 4:26 AM
  • Mahmoodn

     

    There were several very long discussions about the WinSxS folder during the SP1 beta and at other times. Here are some notes and information.

     

    1. A size of 3 to 5 GB is normal on a clean install, depending on the version of Vista.

     

    2. The folder will increase or decrease in size as programs and updates are installed and uninstalled.

     

    3. One of the main reasons for this folder is that it is the solution to the old 'DLL Hell' problem that plagued previous versions of Windows. The assemblies in these folders contain many separate versions of system files that 'may' be needed by some programs. This folder also contains different language versions (MUI) of certain system files.

     

    WinVistaClub: The Secret Of Vista's Winsxs Folder:
    http://www.winvistaclub.com/f16.html


     

    4. This folder also contains backup copies of some system files that are used when running the SFC /scannow command (System File Checker) to replace corrupted system files.

     

    5. The folder has a 'self scavenging' component that will delete some of the assemblies which have been replaced with newer versions or if it is determined that they have become redundant.

     

    6. If you have already installed Vista SP1, there is a cleanup tool that you can use to remove all of the redundant files that the SP1 update replaced. Some of the testing that I did with this tool, resulted in a significant reduction in the size of the system drive, including reductions in the size of the WinSxS folder. (up to 3GB, in some cases)

     

    Vista SP1 Cleanup Tool instructions.

     

    ***NOTE: After you use this cleanup tool, you will no longer be able to remove Service Pack 1, should any problems occur. Make sure that the system is stable before using.

     

    ***NOTE 2: This tool is a one-time use tool. Once it's used it will no longer work on the same installation.

     

    Open Windows Explorer and navigate to C:\Windows\System32. Look for the file "vsp1cln.exe."

    Right click this file and select the 'Run As Administrator' option.

    The Vista Service Pack 1 Cleanup Tool will remove all of the redundant files that it has replaced.

    The amount of disk space you gain will depend on the system, what programs are installed, etc.

     



    Ronnie Vernon
    Microsoft MVP
    Windows Desktop Experience

    Sunday, April 13, 2008 3:38 PM
    Moderator
  • Hallo Roonie,

     

    the hint with vsp1cln.exe is very usefull, but I am affraid, it does not help me.

     

    - I installted Vista 64 bussines

    - then I installed SP1

    - then I updated to Vista 64 Ultimate

     

    last week i discovered, that I have a winsxs size about 35 GB.

    Now vsp1cln does not reduce winsxs.

     

    Am I right, that I should have run vsp1cln1.exe bevore upgrading to Ultimate? Do I need a fresh install?

     

    Urban

    Thursday, May 01, 2008 11:35 AM
  • Urban

     

    Yes, you should have run the cleanup utility before upgrading. When you upgraded, this locked the SP1 update so that it cannot be uninstalled. I'm afraid that the only way to fix this problem is to perform a clean install.

     




    Ronnie Vernon
    Microsoft MVP
    Windows Desktop Experience
    Thursday, May 01, 2008 8:05 PM
    Moderator
  • So if I run that clean up program, and vista sp2 comes around, will it let me install that, or will it have problems?


    Monday, January 05, 2009 2:01 AM
  • Warhawk15 said:

    So if I run that clean up program, and vista sp2 comes around, will it let me install that, or will it have problems?


    Hi

    Yes, you can safely run the 'vsp1cln.exe' tool after you have successfully installed Service pack 1.

    This tool simply cleans up the redundant files that are left over after the SP1 update.

    This will not have any effect on the ability to install SP2.


    Hope this helps.


    Ronnie Vernon MVP
    Monday, January 05, 2009 6:56 AM
    Moderator
  • My home OS: Vista x64 Ultimate SP1 Russian
    RAM: 4 GB
    Disk C: System, Boot
    Disk C size: 50 GB

    Today 11.04.2009.

    Size of WINDOWS folder: 46 GB
    Size of WinSxS folder: 30 GB

    Lets see to system requirements:
    http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-vista/get/system-requirements.aspx
    and what we see:
    40 GB hard drive with at least 15 GB of available space

    After VSP1CLN.EXE:
    Size of WINDOWS folder: 46 GB
    Size of WinSxS folder: 30 GB

    I think that microsoft MUST write in Vista system requirements:
    ... at least 100 GB of available space

    Vista must die!

    After home usage, I don't want implement Vista in my organization.

    Microsoft, WTF?

    Sory for my english...


    MCP, MCSA, MCSA: Messaging
    Saturday, April 11, 2009 7:19 AM
  • I agree! Vista should die.
    However, the hardware vendors do not agree with that and I am forced to use Vista as there are very few Windowx XP x64 drivers...

    To the ____ the DLL ____ issue!
    Programmers can avoid that using several reusabilty techniques...

    Let's see what Windows 7 has reseerved to Us.

    Yours,

    Fabio.
    Tuesday, July 21, 2009 11:00 PM

  • Let's see what Windows 7 has reseerved to Us.


    Winsxs in a month old Windows 7 install is 5GB.

    Yakup
    Tuesday, October 13, 2009 11:23 AM
  • Well I have Windows 7 RTM on a clean install for a week.  I have installed virtually no programes and my winsxs is already 5.75GB!! Oh dear...
    Saturday, November 07, 2009 9:00 AM
  • It really is a Joke. I have a 2 year old machine with Vista. A 60GB system disk of which 38GB is taken up with the SxS folder.

    It came from Dell and I did not receive reinstallation media for the operating system so I'm left with no option but to try and free up space DAILY as Windows consumes more and more.

    As far as I've been able to determine, there is no way for me as the user and adminstrator, to instruct Windows to release this disk space safely. None of the suggestions from Microsoft make any difference.

    This is a poorly thought out solution to DLL ____.

    What am I supposed to do when I run out of disk space? The exact same system is part of Windows 7 so there's not a chance in ____ that I'll be buying that. I've also started to discourage others from using Windows where possible to avoid this.
    Tuesday, February 09, 2010 10:48 AM
  • There is no need to worry about that folder that much. Although not every single file inside is, the vast majority are so-called hardlinks, they only point to system files in other folders. The WinSxS folder doesn't take up a fraction of the space a simple Show size would suggest. And if you ask for a combined size of your Windows folder, those files will be included twice in the result (smart or not, this is a straight consequence of the nature of hardlinks).
    Tuesday, May 04, 2010 1:53 PM
  • nobody gives a damn about lame excuses such as those "being just links" or "hard drive space is cheap anyway".

     

    it's bad design and needs to be fixed, it's that simple!

    man, how i miss the days of microsoft being actually embarrassed and trying to fix things (remember the BSOD at presentation time? ah, good old times...) instead of being cocky and saying the user is really the problem!

     

    i have a windows installation hogging 18GB (initially just around 8GB) on an SSD drive that says people speaking about how winsxs is "nothing to worry about" clearly have no clue whatsoever.

    Monday, December 20, 2010 4:17 AM
  • Okay maybe some background on the root of the problem would help.

    Windows XP (and Windows 2000) used a fast and great mechanism called Hotfix Installer (Update.exe) to install updates. Updates installed in very little time. If you wanted to further reduce update times on Windows XP, you could just temporarily stop the System Restore service and updates would install at crazy speeds. Note that this is not recommended for novice users who don't know advanced recovery methods, as some updates can sometimes cause your system to stop booting so you cannot even uninstall them. The method the Hotfix Installer used was simple, it just installed a new version of files to be updated at %windir%\system32 and %windir%\system32\dllcache (the Windows File Protection cache). For files that were in use, a restart copied them from dllcache to the system32 folder. This is simple file-based servicing. The hotfix installer (Update.exe) also supported various command line switches like /nobackup which means not to backup files it patches. Again, this is not recommended for novice users as some updates can screw your system even after the comprehensive testing Microsoft does before releasing them. But if you won't be uninstalling any updates (usually one only requires uninstalling updates if they cause problems), you could save a ton of disk space by not backing up the files it patched. The Hotfix Installer backed up files to C:\Windows\$Uninstall$KBxxxxxx folders so even if you did back up the files at install time, they could be safely deleted after a few days if no stability issues were found after using Windows with the newest updates applied. Update.exe also supported the very important and convenient ability to slipstream a service pack or update into the original Windows setup files using the /s switch.    

    .

    When Microsoft was developing Windows Vista, they realized that components had gotten too many interdepencies on each other and to service each file reliably without breaking another component that relied on it, Microsoft introduced what they called as Component Based Servicing (CBS). You can read all about it in a much more technical way at The Servicing Guy's blog. What CBS does basically is it installs all files of the entire operating system, including all languages into C:\Windows\WinSxS and then it hard-links files from there to C:\Windows\system32. This has the benefit of not having to insert the OS disc to add or remove any components, and some other advantages as well like offline servicing of a Windows Vista or Windows 7 image. But the design introduces a major disadvantage of taking up a lot of hard disk space. Whenever an update is installed, it no longer installs it to C:\Windows\system32 and C:\Windows\system32\dllcache like Windows XP's hotfix installer (Update.exe) did. Instead, it updates the files in C:\Windows\WinSxS. Now, Windows keeps multiple copies of the same file but with different version in WinSxS if it is used by more than one Windows component. The higher the number of components, that many number of times the file exists in C:\Windows\WinSxS. When a Windows Vista update (.MSU) is installed, the components get updated, each and every one, instead of the files and the worst part is it still maintains the older superseded previous versions of components in WinSxS so the user would be able to uninstall updates. Microsoft does say that some sort of "scavenging" or deleting older copies of components takes place but is scarce on the details. The scavenging seems to take place automatically at certain intervals in Windows 7 but not in Windows Vista. In Windows Vista, you have to add or remove any Windows component for the scavenging to take place. And Microsoft says the scavenging will free up some disk space but in practice, on my system, I see my free disk space only decreasing on Vista as I remove or add any component. Windows does not give the user an option to not backup the earlier versions of components like Windows XP's /nobackup switch in Hotfix Installer did. As as you install more and more updates on your system, they will take more and more disk space. This is one of the primary reasons Windows Vista and Windows 7 are so bloated. Another reason for them being so bloated is the DriverStore that these OSes store. All drivers that are shipped with the OS and the OEM ones which you download and which are installed for a particular system are staged in C:\Windows\System32\DriverStore. But let's not go there for now.

    .

    Now, an important thing to note is that the size of the WinSxS folder is not what Explorer or the dir command report, it is far less but is misreported by Explorer because it counts the hard links more than once when calculating size. That does not mean, the size of WinSxS is not causing real-world disk space problems on numerous Windows Vista/7 systems in use today. Microsoft's ingenious recommendation to this problem of ever growing disk consumption is to install fewer updates to keep the size of the servicing store under control. Of course, users cannot deny installing security updates and leave their system open to security holes. What they can do is install less optional updates, the ones that Microsoft releases on the fourth Tuesday of every month and also install less of the hotfixes that are available by request from a Knowledge Base article. In short, you have to trade the number of bugs fixed in the OS by installing hotfixes at the cost of enormous amounts of disk space. The whole servicing stack is a total downgrade to Windows XP's update.exe method. It causes heavy disk thrashing and slow logoffs/logons while Windows configures these updates at the Welcome Screen. Many systems are unable to boot because of failed updates. Another disadvantage of the "new" servicing stack (and the redesigned Setup mechanism of Windows Vista) is the inability to do a true slipstream of service packs and hotfixes.
    The time it takes to actually install these hotfixes online compared to Windows XP is also completely unacceptable. When you start installing an MSU update, it spends a lot of time determining whether the update applies to your system. Then, the update itself takes much longer to install compared to Windows XP's Update.exe (hours instead of minutes if you are installing dozens of updates through a script). Finally, that post-installation process ("Configuring updates... Do not turn off your computer") takes several minutes before shut down followed by a second post-installation process (configuration) upon restart before logon that also takes also several minutes and thrashes the disk.

    .

    I can install the entire SP3 for Windows XP in about 10 minutes after downloading the full installer. I can also install a slipstreamed-with-SP3 copy of Windows XP is about 45 minutes on a modern fast PC. In contrast, Windows Vista or Windows 7 do install relatively quickly (in just about 15-20 minutes) on a modern PC but installing the service packs and updates takes more time than anything on XP did. Not only can service packs not be slipstreamed, but Vista Service Packs are not even cumulative, which means if you clean install Windows Vista today, you have to install SP1 first which takes about 90 minutes, then SP2 which takes less time, then all the post-SP2 updates which do take hours to install. If you really HAVE to use Windows 7 or Windows Vista, you are stuck with this slow update non-sense as Microsoft does not even acknowledge that there is any slowdown or loss of functionality in the new servicing mechanism. The fact remains: MSU updates are slow as **** and take too much time and as Windows 7/Vista get older and Microsoft stops producing service packs, a clean install is going to take longer and longer to bring it up-to-date with all patches installed. Is is worth wasting your time on an OS whose servicing mechanism Microsoft completely screwed up? I once again recommend you read more about the servicing stack and how it operates at The Servicing Guy's blog:http://blogs.technet.com/b/joscon/. To fix this messed up servicing stack, Microsoft also offers a tool called CheckSUR for your system if it finds “inconsistencies in the servicing store”.

    .

    Microsoft's Windows Vista and Windows 7 products are not engineered with disk space in mind. It causes a problem, especially for SSDs which are still low capacity and very expensive. The only hope is that Microsoft again completely redesigns this servicing mechanism in a future Windows release so it would not cause this growing disk space consumption issue, speed up installation of updates by an order of magnitude, not slow down logon and logoff, not prevent systems becoming unusable because of failed updates being stuck at a particular stage and allow true slipstreaming.
    Microsoft's response to this is vague - they simply state "Windows 7's servicing is more reliable than Windows XP" but they cannot acknowledge it is a million times slower and still unreliable...slow to the point of being unusable and sometimes leaving systems in an unbootable damaged state. Of course they know all this too but can't admit it since it makes their latest OSes look poor. Moving from a very simple and fast update mechanism that worked to a complex one that requires endless “configuring” and repair through CheckSUR is a product engineering defect.

    Take a look at servicing-related complaints in Microsoft's own forums:

    1. Very slow install of updates to Windows 7
    2. Windows 7 - Updates are very slow
    3. Windows 7 Ultimate, it takes long time configuring updates
    4. "Preparing To Configure Windows. Please Do Not Turn Off Your Computer"
    5. Very slow update install at shutdown (Windows 7 Home Premium)
    6. Why does my computer run so slow when installing updates?
    7. Every time the computer is shut down, it always says installing update do not turn off your computer
    8. Computer is working slow and wants to do windows updates all the time
    9. Windows 7 Update install time taking a very long time
    10. Windows wants to install 6 updates every time I log off or put the computer in sleep mode
    11. Problem In Configuring Windows Updates at the time of Startup
    12. Computer really slow after latest updates
    13. Windows hangs up in "configuring updates"
    14. Why can't windows 7 install updates?
    15. Every time computer is shut down, receive Installing updates, do not shut off....
    16. How long does it take for the Windows 7 Home Premium updates take?
    17. Windows 7 "Installing Update 2 of 2" for 12 hours now
    18. Updates causes endless reboots
    19. Updates stuck installing for over 24 hrs. Computer does not boot
    20. Cannot load Windows 7 after installing 2 critical updates

    A proper solution to this problem would be to completely re-engineer and rewrite the servicing mechanism so it operates with the speed, reliability and pain-free operation of the XP servicing mechanism.

    I don't see this situation improving in Windows 8 either. Good luck with your Windows tablet taking hours to install service packs and updates. Now, do iPads take that long to install updates?

    • Proposed as answer by xpclient Sunday, March 04, 2012 7:55 AM
    Sunday, March 04, 2012 7:54 AM