Winxs: Why my Vista install bloated to 28GB

Written by Clive Webster

July 24, 2009 | 12:46

Tags: #bloat #problem #vista #windows

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.
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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!
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