winsxs and installer out of control

WARINING: doing anything to the folders below could inpact your system. Make sure you know what your doing and have a full back up and OS image created. This could make your system unusable. 

So if your here I’m guessing your running out of space on your C drive. And used a tool (windirstat) to scan your C drive and find out what folders are using all your space up. Well I’m also guessing that C:\Windows\winsxs and C:\Windows\Installer (this is basically the old $NTUninstall and $NtServicePackUninstall on XP/2003) are at the close to the top if not the top.

Well some back story on what the two folders do and what can you do to get some of you space back

Folder winsxs:

Well this folder is your “component store” for the “add and remove component” or “server roles” features of windows. They look up the required files from this folder and all other OS files hard link back to this folder. Every patch or SP will add a new copy of ever changed core file to this folder kinda like a version repository.

What to do with Winsxs:

  1. Well first off DONT DELETE IT you might as well wipe your harddrive
  2. Make your SP level Permanent, you can run VSP1CLN.EXE (Vista SP1)/COMPCLN (2008 SP2)/DISM (2008),  to make your service pack permanent and then will remove all files needed before that service pack (note: this exe might be named different on each OS version or SP release, look at item 4 under sources)
  3. or you can compress the folder (right click>properties>advanced>compress contents to save disk space) Doing this will take a lot of time based on the size, and with any compression will slow down the input and output speed of the reads and writes to this location. And based on the function of this folder might slow your OS down as long as this folder is compressed.
  4. nothing and expand your partition or backup and restore on a new larger disk



Folder installer:

This folder is used for some program uninstallers and patch uninstallers

  1. I don’t recommend you delete this
  2. It can be moved until needed. (don’t really recommend moving this off your computer, most like you will lose it) If you have a D drive you can move it over to that drive. You might want to zip/7zip it or use some other archive program to make it smaller
  3. use msizap utility to remove orphaned files, this is a developer tool and is dangerous if you dont know what your doing.
  4. Compress it (right click>properties>advanced>compress contents to save disk space) could slow down installing and uninstalling software
  5. nothing and expand your partition or backup and restore on a new larger disk

Folder SoftwareDistribution (bouns topic #1)

This folder is used for Windowupdate and on older systems will keep failed patch installers in this folder. So if this folder has a few GB of data in it, you might want to do something about it

  1. stop the windows update service, move it to a different drive, start windows update service. It will then recreate this folder
  2. Compress it if you dont really want to mess with it

$NTUninstall and $NtServicePackUninstall (bouns topic #2)

The older version of the installer folder

  1. Move and compress to a different drive incase you need them later. Or just compress it

Other system space saving you can try “Disk Cleanup”


$hf_mig$ (bouns topic #3)


Used for window updates and migration “When a security update, critical update, update, update rollup, driver, or feature pack installs GDR version files, the hotfix files are also copied to the %windir%\$hf_mig$ folder. This supports migration to the appropriate files if you later install a hotfix or service pack that includes earlier versions of these files.”

  1. you can compress the folder if its two large.

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