| By Fred Langa |
Windows Side by Side lets you run different versions of the same programs without conflicts, but the WinSxS folder can soon become enormous.
You need to use great care and caution when managing the WinSxS folder or risk finding yourself in DLL Hell!
Huge WinSxS folder gobbles up disk space
The item in my April 23 column titled “System folders gobble up free disk space” generated some excellent questions. Here’s a point that many of you may also be wondering about.
Joseph Goldman noticed that the WinSxS folder on his Vista machine was huge (the folder’s also present in Windows XP and Server):
- “Could you please address the WinSxS folder? I have seen it at 6, even 8GB. Running the Vista SP1 cleanup doesn’t help too much. I looked around the Internet and all I find is do not touch this space guzzler.”
Here’s a simplified example: Let’s say Windows ships with version 4 of the fictitious xyz.dll but you later install software that’s hardwired to require xyz.dll v3.9. Windows places the nonstandard version of the DLL in the WinSxS folder. The system’s own copy of that DLL remains untouched. This way, the OS and the other software can both have the version of the DLL they need, thus avoiding the “DLL Hell” that plagued early versions of Windows.
WinSxS is clever, but it’s not elegant. For example, you can end up with lots of WinSxS folders containing nearly identical files. The more software you install, the larger the WinSxS folder may grow.