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Winxs: Why my Vista install bloated to 28GB

Posted on 24th Jul 2009 at 12:46 by Clive Webster with 30 comments

Clive Webster
For some reason the C: partition of my media PC is pretty much full, despite me giving the OS 30GB and only having a few apps installed. The culprit is the mysterious winsxs folder, which has piled on the pounds in the year or so the PC has been working, and now weighs in at 15GB. Things is, I had no idea what the folder was when trying to trim some space last night.

A quick Google search revealed that I shouldn't manually delete the myriad files and folders within the winsxs as the folder is actually a library of redundant and not so redundant dlls. Apparently the folder has been present in Windows since Win 95, but Vista seems more prone to excessive folder sizes.

So, I couldn't just treat the winsxs folder like a temp folder and clear everything out; you need to be careful when deleting dlls upon which all your porgrams rely. But I didn't really want to re-size the OS partition on the disk either - 30GB really should be enough, and I wanted to save as much space on the other partition for my collection of completely legal, copyright-free, certainly not BitTorrented videos.

I found some help from a Microsoft employee on this thread complaining about a large winsxs folder. If you've got Vista SP1, there is a tool to trim the winsxs folder, as long as you don't mind losing the ability to ever uninstall SP1. That reeks of SP1 not having a proper clean-up routine after it installs, but hey, I thought I'd run it anyway.

The tool is in C:\Windows\System32 and is called "vsp1cln.exe." Running it took about five minutes of hard disk thrashing, the end results of which was 7GB of apparently completely redundant data being deleted. Well, that'll keep things happy for now. Although as I'm talking about Media PC, I'm expecting some completely random and unforeseeable issue arising as a consequence of me using vsp1cln that renders the whole system as useful as a spear in a gunfight.

Does anyone else know any tricks to shrink the bloat of an ageing Vista install? Apart from uninstall/reinstall, of course - I really can't be bothered to go through the pain of getting codecs to work with Media Center all over again!

30 Comments

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GFC 24th July 2009, 13:39 Quote
Is there such a tool for Windows 7? Because I too have 30GB for OS and I'm almost out of space now.
kenco_uk 24th July 2009, 13:52 Quote
compcln deletes SP2 files.
Aracos 24th July 2009, 14:10 Quote
Damn that's huge! That's more than my entire XP installation XD
If XP doesn't get as bloated by keeping older files why does vista? That's what I don't understand =\
thehippoz 24th July 2009, 15:16 Quote
yeah I'm over 32 gigs on my vista install.. think that's normal though- vmware recommends 24 gigs minimum for a vista 64 install and just 8 for xp

other than the tweaks and cleaning out temp/duplicate files, don't know how to shrink it

*edit* actually if you shoot a email over to the guys at start64.com.. they will probably write an article on it
dicobalt 24th July 2009, 15:29 Quote
I have a VM installed with Vista x64 sp2 integrated and it's all updated now, my winsxs folder is only 6.92GB. By integrated I mean the disc is Vista x64 SP2, there was no silly sp1 or sp2 install after installing Vista. Microsoft makes this available to their Technet peoples. You can find this iso available on your favorite yarrrrrr site tho. Here are hashes for Vista32/64 sp2 iso's:

32bit: (3.02 GB (3,243,413,504 bytes))
MD5: a1c024d7abaf34bac3368e88efbc2574
SHA1: aaee3c04533899f9f8c4ae0c4250ef5fafbe29a3

64bit: (3.59 GB (3,861,460,992 bytes))
MD5: 19ca90a425667812977bab6f4ce24175
SHA1: 25ad9a776503e6a583bec07879dbcc5dfd20cd6e

BTW the entire virtual HDD is only using 11.5GB of space, I only have a Firefox installed and a few very small security applications.
thehippoz 24th July 2009, 16:09 Quote
yeah dico.. but alot of us who been with vista awhile have huge installs- like my install goes back to the release of vista right after beta, around jan 2007.. rather cut it down than reinstall

I know alot of guys who reinstall like it's some sort of spring cleaning lol I found not really necessary, even on the older os's you can keep it running smoothly.. the bloat over time never really thought about too much- but now that I looked like hanlon says- what has been seen, cannot be unseen :D
Ross1 24th July 2009, 16:55 Quote
I tried running vsp1cln.exe .... it didnt take very long and didnt delete a significant amount of data.
dicobalt 24th July 2009, 17:02 Quote
Yea I take my window install optimizations pretty far. Usually I install windows and update it, install apps, turn off windows system restore, run r-wipe to get rid of every temp file, log file, app trace on the drive. Then I will run Smart Defrag to get all the files up to the front of the drive so they transfer as fast as possible. I even use the registry to turn of the stupid Vista/Win7 thumbnail cache database that can grow to many GB in size. Honestly Win7 was so fast at generating thumbnails on my computer it was silly for it to even use the database at all.
GoodBytes 24th July 2009, 17:05 Quote
I can't find Winxs folder, nor can do I see my system drive increase.
I have Vista SP2.
dicobalt 24th July 2009, 17:32 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoodBytes
I can't find Winxs folder, nor can do I see my system drive increase.
I have Vista SP2.

It is located in c:\windows\winsxs
HyLite 24th July 2009, 18:49 Quote
Just a thought: Sometimes Vista bloat is a result of Volume Shadow Copy (VSS) growing. i.e. every time you do any installs a restore point is created. Over time these can really add up. Drill down to the create restore point diag box, uncheck the drives, apply, recheck the drives, apply and all the previous restore points will delete and a whole bunch of HD space released.
Burnout21 24th July 2009, 19:27 Quote
side note, i have been trying to reduce an XP install down below 10GB, an idea's?
andrew8200m 24th July 2009, 20:08 Quote
18.43gb. Thats ridiculous! If you have your OS on an 30gb ssd for instance I would have been stuffed a long time ago! I think this needs to be adressed in further operating systems. Good thing I have 128gb for the OS, still, it means that I will have to watch what I instal otherwise the system could start to grind.

Andy
GoodBytes 24th July 2009, 20:16 Quote
Thanks for the path of the folder

Quote:
Originally Posted by andrew8200m
18.43gb. Thats ridiculous! If you have your OS on an 30gb ssd for instance I would have been stuffed a long time ago! I think this needs to be adressed in further operating systems.

Well the folder winsxs is in Windows 7 RC... mine is 5.73GB
I have been using Win7 RC since the day it was released. My Vista SP2 has winsxs and it's 12.7GB, I have it since Feb 2009.
dicobalt 24th July 2009, 20:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Burnout21
side note, i have been trying to reduce an XP install down below 10GB, an idea's?

That's easy. Install XP using an iso that already SP3. Turn down all caching in browsers to reasonable levels. Disable java cache in the control panel if you have it installed lol. Install plenty of ram so it doesn't use the swap file and disable the swap file. Disable hiberation file with powercfg-h command and delete the file if it still exists after that. Disable system restore. Use R-Wipe to schedule routine deletion of temp files from all sorts of places you never knew existed. Oh yea, uninstall internet explorer and windows features also in the add/remove.
docodine 25th July 2009, 00:57 Quote
Seeing as my XP install on my EeePC was under 500MB, under 10GB shouldn't be tough..

Follow a guide for nLite?
Omnituens 25th July 2009, 10:40 Quote
vista SP1 was the ONLY sp i ever uninstalled, because it broke almost all my USB devices on my laptop, like my webcam that it can see, but no application can access
KoenVdd 25th July 2009, 23:19 Quote
uninstall, install linux, for mediapc mythbunutu should do nicely. My ubuntu is 7gb with all the crap i haven't cared to remove, but not counting the 4gb swap partition (fair is fair).

PS: maybe not directly on topic but acting smarmy to Windows owners is a hard earned privilege.
GoodBytes 26th July 2009, 00:05 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by KoenVdd
uninstall, install linux, for mediapc mythbunutu should do nicely. My ubuntu is 7gb with all the crap i haven't cared to remove, but not counting the 4gb swap partition (fair is fair).
Ok, we will keep in mind when Microsoft goes bankrupt or that Linux fixes all it's downsides.
thehippoz 26th July 2009, 00:58 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoodBytes
Ok, we will keep in mind when Microsoft goes bankrupt or that Linux fixes all it's downsides.

XD that's good enough for a sig goodbytes
gnutonian 26th July 2009, 09:44 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by KoenVdd
My ubuntu is 7gb with all the crap i haven't cared to remove, but not counting the 4gb swap partition (fair is fair).
Isn't the MS Windows swap space (paging file?) by default on the same disk as where the OS is installed?
Quote:
Originally Posted by KoenVdd
PS: maybe not directly on topic but acting smarmy to Windows owners is a hard earned privilege.
As a fellow GNU/Linux user, I disagree :p I'm all for shouting from the rooftops about how much I think GNU+Linux is better for me than Windows; but the hint's in the italic text. Not everyone cares about freedom, not every gamer wants to give up the games they paid good money for (Wine isn't magic and not everything will run in it).


As for the article/blog: 30GB is a bit big, though. Personally, I felt a bit "disappointed" when a full gNewSense install took up ~2.5GB (IIRC). My main computer (Debian) uses 1.73GB; with a full desktop environment it would be ~200-300MB more. (Making a comparison between GNU/Linux and MS Windows HD space is very silly, but I'm using this to explain my "feelings" below.)

I know storage is cheap (and I know that I am cheap when it comes to storage), but isn't there some kind of moral reasoning? It's not just because storage is cheap, that so much of it should be used for just running the PC. :|

Or am I (as is often the case) the only one who cares about this, and is the above "argument" null for everyone else? I.e., do others just not care that much about the storage? (Until it reaches ridiculous levels, like what is in essence a temp folder taking up 15GB.)
AuDioFreaK39 26th July 2009, 21:03 Quote
Yep I've known about the "vsp1cln.exe" trick for a while. Glad it's being mentioned in the press now.
B3CK 27th July 2009, 07:38 Quote
Just checked my folder, on laptop that's been running vista for almost a year; clean install, reformated and reinstalled to get rid of oem bloat, and my folder is 8kb of disk space used. Just for comparison. Vista 32bit, SP2, and I have a ton of utilities that are installed, and countless others that have been un-installed.
KoenVdd 27th July 2009, 11:26 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Imperium
As a fellow GNU/Linux user, I disagree :p I'm all for shouting from the rooftops about how much I think GNU+Linux is better for me than Windows; but the hint's in the italic text. Not everyone cares about freedom, not every gamer wants to give up the games they paid good money for (Wine isn't magic and not everything will run in it).

Sorry about that, just wanted to be snooty for once. I know Linux isn't for everybody and likewise isn't unbreakable, but that more my fault than linuxes. Also I run dual boot, untill ofcourse swapping hardrives to new hardware made WinXP give up.
I have seen the light of ways and am repentant and seek forgiveness from the almighty Kernels.
PS: I'm NOT being sarcastic.
Claave 27th July 2009, 15:20 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Imperium
I know storage is cheap (and I know that I am cheap when it comes to storage), but isn't there some kind of moral reasoning? It's not just because storage is cheap, that so much of it should be used for just running the PC. :|

Or am I (as is often the case) the only one who cares about this, and is the above "argument" null for everyone else? I.e., do others just not care that much about the storage? (Until it reaches ridiculous levels, like what is in essence a temp folder taking up 15GB.)

Definitely see your point - on my Media PC it's not too much of an issue as I've got a 750GB disk and could extend the OS partition. Mechanical storage is, as you say, cheap.

However, I'm now a touch worried about the switch to an SSD that I'd like to take - 128GB of SSD speediness might get gobbled up by an unruly winsxs folder pretty quickly!
Grimloon 28th July 2009, 12:45 Quote
Hmm, interesting. I'll have to have a look at this tonight as my OS partition is only 30 GB and I noticed last night that I've only got around 2 GB left of that. Documents and page file are on separate partitions so there really shouldn't be 28 GB in use.
GoodBytes 28th July 2009, 16:39 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grimloon
Hmm, interesting. I'll have to have a look at this tonight as my OS partition is only 30 GB and I noticed last night that I've only got around 2 GB left of that. Documents and page file are on separate partitions so there really shouldn't be 28 GB in use.

Well, in you case it could be system restore points.
You can clear them up, but then it will clear the ability to go (or view to access) back in time on a file, folder, drive, or system.
30GB is not enough, you need AT LEAST 50GB, if you want the ability to use system restore point and go really back in time over a few days, and not worry about clearing it.
doggeh 30th July 2009, 21:54 Quote
I don't have a vsp1cln.exe file in my System32 folder.... any ideas?
My winsxs folder is at 14Gb and could do with trimming down!
I'm on SP2 if that makes a difference...

I do have a vsp1cln.exe in "C:\Windows\winsxs\amd64_microsoft-windows-v..ck-uninstallremoval_31bf3856ad364e35_6.0.6001.18000_none_dc83934b9415d3b6" but it does not do anything (even when running as administrator)...
Cheers,
Doggeh
cybergenics 7th August 2009, 17:55 Quote
MS changed the game about in SP2 a little. In SP2 Vsp1cln.exe is now changed to to Compcln.exe. Its still located in system 32. It basically does the same thing.

Compcln.exe, should restore HDD space by permanently deleting the previous versions of the files (like when you go from SP1 to SP2) and there is no way of getting them back also.

To accomplish this :


Open a command prompt (start then type 'CMD')

Type in Compcln.exe

It prompts to make SP2 permanent on your computer, meaning you can't go back to SP1 once you run it.

That's it.
cybergenics 7th August 2009, 17:55 Quote
If that appears somewhere in the mag....I want some Kudos !
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