Visual map of my hard drive

imageLately, I’ve been combing through my drive and uninstalling old bits like VS.NET 2005. I’ve been using WinDirStat which is a great tool for performing such a task and it got me wondering how other people’s drives looked. There are a few things of note in this picture (click to enlarge) and one of those is the size of my winsxs (11.8GB!) and Installer (4.1GB!) folders. I’ve Googled on these and without spending a tremendous amount of time it appears there’s not much you can do to shrink these things which is rather disappointing.

Clearly, I haven’t marked every region of this image though I’ve highlighted what I think are the more interesting parts. I’d like to know if others have winsxs folders that are this large and if anything can be done to shrink it down. It seems to me that it would eventually force a reinstall of the OS and surely seems like a place bits go to die.


5 thoughts on “Visual map of my hard drive

  1. My winsxs folder is 14.2GB. This does help to explain how my C partition fills up so quickly, even though all programs are explicitly installed on my D partition.

  2. The winsxs folder is the third rail of the Windows OS, you don’t want to touch it. I did see a few articles that mentions that many of the files in win32 folder are actually hard-linked to files in \windows\winsxs. How does WinDirStat handle hard-links? The only safe way I know to shrink that folder is to repave the OS and just install the latest versions of the tools that you use.
    One of the lovely features of Windows Installer is that it caches the .MSI files, seemingly forever. If you blow away the cached .MSI file, you can’t uninstall the application that had been installed by that .MSI. In theory, you can use the original installation media to uninstall that application, but that could fail if the application vendor had issued a patch. A Windows Installer patch wil modify the cached copy of the .msi while it’s patching the installed application. That part is clever, if you have an application and you did not install all of the options, the patch can upgrade the optional bits in case you modify the installation at a later date.
    The problem is that some vendors code their installers so that they can’t be downgraded. Version 1.1 can be blocked from touching 1.2, requiring the cached patched .msi to rip the 1.2 out. Then you need something like Microsoft’s msizap.exe tool (, which tell Windows Installer that the app is not installed.

  3. Hey Chris,
    Thanks for the insight. I currently don’t have my Windows directory compressed and I’m wondering if that’s a good/bad idea to try and recapture some of that space.

  4. That might be useful if you are running on a laptop and have a Core 2 or Quad chipset. With the slower drives typically found on a laptop, the reduced I/O time and the availability of a spare core to decompress on the fly; it could be faster than the raw I/O from a 5400 rpm drive.

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