Windows 8 and 8.1 Forums


How does Win8 handle WINSXS

  1. #1

    How does Win8 handle WINSXS


    My biggest complaint about Win7 is how the WINSXS folder is handled. Basically it simply gets bigger and bigger, and there is no way to reduce it's size.

    Is there any information about how Win8 handles this? Does it do any better? IS there a way to clean up WINSXS in Win8?

      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  2. #2


    Posts : 1,925
    Windows 8.1 Pro


    Do you actually understand the purpose of WinSxS? It's the Windows Side-by-side system file folder.

    First, there are a number of misconceptions about this folder. First, it's not as big as you think it is. Simply right clicking on it and viewing properties does not report its true size.

    The reason is that the WinSxS folder uses hard links to link to a single file. So even though it may say there are 20 versions of a given DLL, it may all point to a single file on disk. This means that files are counted multiple times, and the reported size will be far greater than what it really takes up on disk.

    Having said that, you can't really do anything about the folder, as it's purpose is to prevent the old "DLL Hell" issue that used to plague Windows, where different apps would install different versions of the same DLL. If you mess with this, it will probably make some apps crash, and you're back in DLL Hell again.

    There's a good explanation here:

    WinSxS Folder in Windows 7 explained | WinVistaClub

    Also

    What is the WINSXS directory in Windows 2008 and Windows Vista and why is it so large? - Ask the Core Team - Site Home - TechNet Blogs

    Also, if you want to make this folder smaller, you can follow these steps, but they aren't really doing anything special:

    More on shrinking Windows’ huge WinSxS folder

    And here:

    Cleanup the WinSxS Folder in Windows 8 & 7
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3. #3


    Do you actually understand the purpose of WinSxS? It's the Windows Side-by-side system file folder.

    Yes, I've read a lot about WINSXS and I do understand what it's there for.

    Simply right clicking on it and viewing properties does not report its true size.

    I am aware of this and I do understand how JunctionLinks work - I've used them to move stuff off my 64GB SSD boot drive. My point is that programs like SpaceSniffer show how much space on my SSD boot drive is used and how much is free. The space consumed by WINSXS continues to increase, and the free space continues to decrease.

    If there is a way to accurately determine how much space is used and free on my boot drive I'd like to know what it is.

    it's purpose is to prevent the old "DLL Hell" issue that used to plague Windows, where different apps would install different versions of the same DLL. If you mess with this, it will probably make some apps crash, and you're back in DLL Hell again.

    I understand the theory but it seems to me the implementation is still problematic. At some point in the future I'll be forced to replace my SSD with a larger one simply because WINSXS has gotten so large.

    There's a good explanation here:

    WinSxS Folder in Windows 7 explained | WinVistaClub

    That is a good reference and not one I had seen before. It does a good job of explaining what's in WINSXS and why messing with its contents is a bad thing to do.

    Also, if you want to make this folder smaller, you can follow these steps, but they aren't really doing anything special:

    Yup, been there, done that, got no results.

    Maybe my situation is unique: I do install, test, and delete a lot of different software products, and some of them are big ones. I use Advanced Uninstaller Pro to delete all software I don't want any more (which is most of what I install in the first place), but my sense is even that does not remove anything from WINSXS. Furthermore, it seems that what's happening when new software is installed is that Windows itself puts copies of the DLLs from that software into WINSXS; therefore, uninstalling that same software leaves those copied DLLs behind simply because the uninstall routine has no awareness of them.

    If this is actually true (so far I've not been able to find out if it is or not) then I've got lots of stuff in WINSXS that I no longer want, need, or can even use. But it is still taking up space on my boot drive - and will eventually cause me to have to purchase a larger one.

    That's the point I was originally making - perhaps I should have been more specific. So - how about this:

    Why not add a Use Count value to each DLL put into WINSXS and then update Windows itself to decrement this counter whenever a DLL is removed from the system. That way WINSXS could be self-policing - when a copy of a DLL is no longer needed it (the copy in WINSXS) would be deleted too.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4. #4


    Posts : 1,925
    Windows 8.1 Pro


    If you're testing a lot, you might want to consider using a virtual machine instead. Then you can install it, play with it, then throw it away and start with a clean image. You can even setup some VM's so that you can throw away changes made to the system automatically.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  5. #5


    I totally agree. Needless to say you can imagine my chagrin when I found out the VM capability is only in Win7 Pro, not Home Premium. However I just started reading about SandBoxie. That might work.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

How does Win8 handle WINSXS
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