Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Windows 2008 space issue and WinSxS growing fast

Are you asking yourself what the WinSxS folder is and why it is so big and growing?
In a few words, we can say that this is the folder that keeps Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 2008 OS components and it is therefore very touchy.

SxS means Side-by-side technology and it is a solution integrated in recent Windows versions by Microsoft in a attempt to reduce DLL hell. The problem with this solution is that the system keeps all versions of installed components in order to be able to serve them to asking application. As a downside, you will notice that this folder grows up very quickly and this can quickly became a very serious issue for your production servers.

Common sizes for the WinSxS folder:

- Windows 2003 : WinSXS = 25 MB / 05 GB (total Windows)
- Windows 2008 : WinSXS = 05 GB / 10 GB (total Windows)

The only safe way to reduce the size of the WinSxS folder on the disk is to remove the packages that installed the original components. This can be achieved by uninstalling superseded versions of packages.

On Windows Vista, Service Pack 1 contains VSP1CLN.EXE. Running VSP1CLN.EXE will make the Service Pack package permanent and not removable.
The tool is automatically installed as part of the SP1 upgrade, and you can find it under \%windir%\system32\vsp1cln.exe.

On Windows Vista, after Windows SP2 you can use COMPCLN.EXE to clean up WinSxS folder. This tool is installed as part of the SP2 upgrade, and you’ll find it under \%windir%\system32\compcln.exe.

As with vsp1cln.exe, executing compcln.exe will make SP2 not removable.

Other third part solutions to reduce WinSxS size are:


The problem is that for the moment I have no news of a tool that will work on Windows 2008. But, and this is somewhat of a good news in a bad news, before trying to clean-up WinSxS to reduce its size, remember that Explorer just has issues reporting the size of hard links. In fact the WinSxS folder doesn't take up the space reported by Explorer since it uses Hard Links to physical files, not actual files...

Anyway, if your problem is with %windir%\winsxs\ManifestCache\ growing too much, you can refer to this procedure to remove the files under the %windir%\winsxs\ManifestCache\ and to release some disk space that the WinSXS folder is taking:

Net stop trustedinstaller
Takeown /f %windir%\winsxs\ManifestCache\*
Icacls %windir%\winsxs\ManifestCache\* /GRANT administrators:F
Del /q %windir%\winsxs\ManifestCache\*

As a last solution, if your WinSxS folder is really growing out of control, you may want to increase the size of you system disk. Here's the procedure for this.

I hope this helps.




  1. An update to this post can be found here:


  2. after saving some 2647.7 MB from winsxs by your dism command elsewhere, I could again save some 155 MB locked in manifest cache.

    what about other folders there? Manifest, Backup? can the y also be removed?

    Thanks for this lovely command.


  3. ALSO if you need additional space, you may uncheck hide recommended system files in folder options and delete the contents from C:\windows\installer which is a hidden directory.


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