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Vista Laptop Disk Space Still Eaten Up!

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Old 02-07-2013, 12:04 PM   #1
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Ok, so it's been a year since I had this issue... (See link to previous thread in this Forum: http://http://www.techsupportforum.com/forums/f217/help-vista-updates-have-eaten-all-the-laptop-disk-space-help-625379.html

(In short, Vista Windows Updates had eaten up my 37.1 GB disk space on my Toshiba Vista Laptop, 1014MB Memory (RAM), 32-bit Operating System, whittling it down to just around 1GB).

I didn't really get anywhere in understanding where all that space had gone...kind of got fed up with it and just removed some more of my files and worked mostly using/saving to USB. Had to cope with Vista showing just 2 or 3 GB free out of 37.1 GB.

Now (this week) I decided to try to sort it out again and ran TreeSize. Thanks so much for this suggestion in previous thread! Now I know which folder is being greedy and using all the space...! Basically, TreeSize shows:
35.5GB C:\ ON [Vista]:

20.0 GB Windows;
7.7 GB Users
4.2 GB Program Files
2.3 GB 11 Files
0.9 GB ProgramData
0.3 GB MSOCache
0.1 GB Toshiba
0.0 GB perflogs
0.0 GB Boot
0.0 GB System Volume Information
0.0 GB Intel
0.0 GB $Recycle Bin
0.0 GB temp
0.0 GB Documents and Settings
0.0 GB logs

So the culprit out of the above is the whopping 20.0 GB WINDOWS Folder! (It canít be me then, can it lolÖ). So I went looking inside this whopping big folder and found a sub-folder taking up around 10GB (!) see list of sub-folders in that Windows Folder below:

10.7 GB winsxs
3.5 GB System32
2.0GB Installer
1.5GB Software Distribution
0.6 GB assembly
0.3 GB Fonts
0.2 GB [63 Files]
0.2 GB Speech
0.1 GB eHome
0.1 GB IME
0.1 GB Microsoft.NET
0.1 GB logs
0.1 GB Help
0.1 GB inf
And a large list of others all 0.0 GB (so I didnít type them all out here).

So in the break-down of all the sub-folders that contribute to that original whopping 20.0GB Windows Folder, I find the WINSXS folder to be the greedy culprit, gobbling up 10.7 GB!

I don't know much about what this WINSXS folder is except that it sort of creates multiple versions of a DLL (?) whatever that means...? So it has different versions of the same thing?

I tried researching a bit on it but I'm afraid I didn't understand much. Apparently, according to Microsoft, this folder is used during 'service installations' including 'updates', service packs, hotfixes, etc.

It's not these service packs (Sp1 & SP2)that were causing the issue in the first place though as I only installed them a few days ago - see the 'more info' bit at end. My problems go back to those original pesky windows updates as I wrote before in the previous thread.

In the WINSXS folder, there are other folders, e.g.:
0.4 GB Backup
0.3 GB ManifestCache
0.3 GB Manifests
0.3 GB x86_microsoft-windows-naturallanguage (with a string of letters and numbers that I didnít type here. Also this same name is repeated for around six other folders under it but with different string of letters and numbers after each; all are 0.3GB).
Then there is 0.2 GB Temp;
And a few other folders, about six, of 0.1 GB each
And then there are lots and lots and lots of folders in a massive long list all 0.0 GB!! So I donít understand it at all. Some are multiples of the same name.

More info: I recently downloaded and installed successfully both SP1 and SP2 for Vista. I have today reclaimed the small space used by these installations by making them permanent by running Windows Vista Service Pack 2 Compcln.exe. (I couldnít locate the Windows Vista Service Pack 1 reclaiming disk space thingy: VSP1CLN.EXE in the system so presumably it was integrated into the SP2 removal CompclnÖ? Anyway, after I ran it today, it gave me back about 1 or 2 GB that it had taken during installation. So that only made a very small, insignificant difference overall as TreeSize showed me today when I ran it again: winsxs is now 8 GB instead of 10 GB).

Anyway, I guess Iím bamboozled: How can I reduce the file size of this winsxs folder safely?

What can I do about this entire Windows 20.0GB folder gobble gobble problem?

Can anyone help?
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Old 02-13-2013, 04:25 AM   #2
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If anyone has any ideas or suggestions, any at all, I will be very grateful...

I'm just trying to see what could be done about this huge winsxs folder...if there's anything out there to help reduce its size safely...
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Old 02-13-2013, 04:42 AM   #3
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Normally you should leave the winsxs folder as is.

What model Toshiba is this?

It maybe time to consider upgrading the hard drive to a lager drive

Have you tried the normal steps to create disk space? Uninstalling unused programs? Run Disc Clean-up tool?
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Old 02-14-2013, 03:15 AM   #4
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WINSXS are the Windows Updates. This is a normal amount of space for Windows, and it's various programs and drivers. My Windows folder is 20GB with WINSXS taking up almost half of that.
Vista, 7 and 8 take up a lot more space then older versions of Windows because they have more drivers already in the system so you don't have to load them for devices.
If you are running out of space, you should get a larger HDD.
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Old 02-16-2013, 03:25 PM   #5
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Thanks so much to both ...
It really helps to begin to understand what this folder is - now I feel a bit less woolly…

Makinu1der2: Thanks for the suggestions about cleaning out the laptop for unused programs etc, I've done that now - pretty much emptied all programs except basic few obviously Office, Adobe, printer software, one or two of the usuals, Toshiba Laptop pre-installed things and a phone software (also bearing in mind, I didn’t really have that many programs in the first place). After that TreeSize report of disk usage, I found that although I had uninstalled iTunes a long time ago, there was a backup file in AppData taking up around 4GB, so I deleted that too.

I don’t think I’ve ever cleared out something like I’ve scraped and cleared out this laptop for every last vestige and bit of space lol! (My mother would be proud lol). After your post, I was motivated to do even more cleaning, so I snooped around to try other ways to clean up and found and tried out the ‘hidden options in disk cleanup’ too!

Spunk.funk: So basically, the laptop now has pretty much nothing in it from me! But I have only 10GB free space…that’s the funny terrible paradox…because if we look at the wider picture, I have a laptop in which I have nothing (next to nothing programs) and can install nothing- and to suffer that to keep a few GB free, which I can do almost nothing with…

Ok so I appreciate that this WINSXS folder is a step up solution for dlls or something like that i.e. an improvement from the XP era and I do appreciate that at least we have these sophisticated laptops and PCs to work on (can’t imagine what to do without them). I appreciate that these talented IT people are coming up with all these complicated solutions and improvements and innovations all the time and that this WINSXS folder I suppose is a ‘work in progress’ sort of thing. I do hope though that Microsoft find a proper work-around for it soon… otherwise, although I don’t mind so much (I've put my files into Drive E) and can see the funny side: it means that I bought a (at the time, brand new Vista laptop) just specially for MICROSOFT to fill it up with Updates and Service Packs hhehhe (see, I told you I can see the funny side heh) and bought it to put virtually nothing of mine in it. To put it into context, when we buy a laptop, we don’t usually buy one with just 10GB space in it – and I didn’t either. It had at least 37/30 GB free. UNTIL Microsoft updates ate it all. So yes, NOW it would seem that I would have to get a larger HDD – but that’s a solution at the consumer expense (at whatever level) that has not much to do with the consumer being the cause of the issue in the first place.

I am glad though that you told me that this WINSXS is an issue that is quite normal for Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8. At least I know it’s not me doing something iffy lol.

Many thanks for your help and the comments. Honestly, it really helps to at least discuss an issue here even if we don’t sort it out outright. Thanks for that.

I guess I just have the following questions now, which I’ve sorted into two categories:

Sorting out the Updates:

Any way of clearing up the old Microsoft updates (similar to the Vista SP1 & SP2 fix)?

What is the C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution folder? Can this be utilised in any way to sort out the Updates space issue? Could we delete anything from this folder perhaps?

What is something called ‘scavenging’? I read something about ‘scavenging’ on a Microsoft support page on winsxs but didn’t quite understand it…but apparently this ‘scavenging’ might help…any help with what this is and how to go about it?

Saving space tactics:

Can I extend the volume of C? How could I do this?

Again, any help or comments are much appreciated...and I am grateful for the comments given so far too. Thanks for the discussion...
Laptop Info:
Windows Vista Home Premium
Service Pack 2
Manufacturer: Toshiba
Model: Personal Computer
Processor: Genuine Intel(R) CPU T2060 @ 1.60GHz 1.60GHz
Memory: 1GB
System Type: 32-bit Operating System
(At the bottom of the laptop, it states: Toshiba Equium A100-027)
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Old 02-16-2013, 05:18 PM   #6
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You have done about enough surgery that you should do, You should not delete any Microsoft updates, System files, Windows files etc. If you need more space, you can get an External USB Drive to store music, pictures, documents etc on. Remember that any files you can't live with out should be on more then one HDD.
As for expanding the drive, go to Start/Run and type diskmgmt.msc and press enter. In Disk Management window, are there any other partitions on the same drive as the C: drive? Take a screen shot of Disk Management and attach it in your next post.
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Old 02-16-2013, 05:59 PM   #7
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The apparent size of the winsxs folder is deceiving. The majority of these files are actually links, something like a shortcut, to files that are stored elsewhere. Deleting this folder wouldn't save nearly as much space as it would seem and would cause serious problems. Best to leave the folder alone.
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Old 02-21-2013, 02:16 PM   #8
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Thanks to both LMiller7 and Spunk.Funk for the further comments - I suppose they have stopped any lingering human curiosity itchiness in my fingers from using programs such as WinsxsLite, which is supposed to be a third-party tool to help 'clean up' the folder...ah well...better not to mess around...

Spunk.Funk: lol at 'doing enough surgery' (great description that), yep, it was painfully hard work scalpelling for space - in the end, it was a cosmetic surgery job rather than a real treatment of the ailing disk space...I'm just hoping to find ways of making the most out of the remaining space I've carved out and looking at other space solutions for this Vista/Winsxs issue...hence bobbing a look at extending Drive C...(I've attached the Disk Management Screenshot, by the way [and thanks for taking a look at it]).

Thanks also for the advice about always backing up important files/folders (I have a collection of USBs (!) and also have a Samsung Portable External Hard Drive, which I used to back up my XP but I'm going to get around to adding all my files/folders created on Vista soon too as a second back up to the USBs). That was a good reminder. (Just hope I remember how I did it in XP lol; I remember getting a bit mixed up with installing it in XP at first...).

LMiller7: I appreciate the explanation that the Winsxs files are links to others stored somewhere else - so I understand from this then that the Drive C space taken up as reported by Vista/Drive C isn't the real thing ...it's funny though isn't it because if it wasn't for Vista/Drive C fibbing about the actual space taken up, we wouldn't actually have an issue in the first place about this space (or should I sum it up as an issue about a non-issue regarding space taken up that isn't really taken up...? Heh it is funny... So if Microsoft's talented lot can stop it from fibbing about the space usage...i.e. get it to stop its multiple declaring of all and each of its links for what is essentially just one thing/component/whatever it is), then hey, bring on the cake and balloons!

Thanks for all the help, really, because at least I know what it is and especially it's importance.
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Old 02-21-2013, 02:33 PM   #9
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Thank you for posting the screen shot of Disk Management.
The 1.46 GB partition in the front without a drive letter is probably the Recovery Partition that you would run if you need to reinstall Vista. Always leave this alone.
If you were to get an External USB HDD, you can move the files on the D: drive there. Then you can right click the D: drive and Delete Volume. Deleting the D: partition making it Unallocated Space. The you can Right click the C: drive and choose Extend Partition into the Unallocated Space. If you want to leave a little space for a partition do that. Then you can right click the remaining Unallocated Space and choose to create a new Simple Volume or just make the C: drive the maximum size of the drive. You can also use a 3rd party utility like minitool Partition Wizard to delete and extend the partitions.
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Old 02-21-2013, 04:20 PM   #10
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What Vista is using in the Winsxs folder is called hard linking. This feature has been a part of the NTFS file system since Windows 2000 but was never used by Windows until Vista. It is very useful in that it allows a file (or folder) to appear in multiple folders without the need for multiple copies of the file. This can save considerable disk space. Another feature is that if you change the contents of the file in one folder the change is automatically seen in all others. There is no need for updating multiple copies of the file. Deleting the file from one folder has no effect on others. Only when the file is deleted in all folders is it actually gone.

But a big problem is how do you report the space used? The best way would depend on how you are going to use this information, and there are many ways. But Windows designers had to make a choice so they chose to report the actual size of the folder wherever it appears. I think it was a good choice.

Programming requires making decisions, and sometimes they are very difficult. Producing a large project like Vista required many difficult decisions. In many case whatever the decision, somebody is going to say it was a stupid one.
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