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Thread: WinSXS

  1. #1
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    I have seen several discussions about the ever-larger Winsxs (Windows Side-By-Side) folder in Windows 7, but in light of systems being configured to install from fairly small SSDs (mine is 120GB and winsxs takes up 6.5GB), I think a comprehensive review might be in order. Fred Langa covered it a while back with the advice not to fool with it, but I think it needs a revisit, as it chews up more and more space on a SSD. I would like to see the following questions answered:

    1. What is the difference between the amd64, msil, wow64, and x86 versions of the files in this directory? If I have an Intel CPU, do I need the amd64 files in this folder? How about the msil ones?

    2. What about the backup folder in winsxs? Is it really necessary?

    3. Can you explain the purpose of the other folders in winsxs (Catalogs, Filemaps, Installtemp, ManifestCache, Manifests)--can any of them be removed?

    4. I can't move files out of the Winsxs folder, even as an administrator and after having taken ownership of the folder. How can I move these files to another drive for archiving?

  2. #2
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    If you download"Takeownership" this adds an option to the right click menu. once taken full ownership you can create a new folder in your external HDD and copy and paste the whole Winsxs folder to your new folder.

    I've just tested it on my win7 HP 64bit and works fine. I do not think you should remove the original folder though as it is needed for recovery from errors by windows.
    But is a good idea to have a copy of the folder in case the original gets corrupted.

    Although you have an Intel CPU the system still uses AMD files in its OS it has nothing to do with what type of CPU you have.
    WOW64 is used by 64bit programs and games to get the best out of a 64bit OS. X86 is the legacy 32bit system to allow 32bit programs to run on a 64bit OS (you'll notice you have two program files the X86 one is where 32bit programs get installed).
    I'm not sure what the msil files are for but look similar to MSI files which are used by windows installer when you install something. I suspect these are backups in case the installer get corrupted so windows can repair the installer from a known good backup.

    These descriptions are only my interpretations and may be corrected by another poster with more knowledge.
    Last edited by curiousclive; 2012-03-14 at 05:57.

    All typing errors are my own work and subject to patents pending. Except errors by the spell checker. And that has its own patients.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    If I have an Intel CPU, do I need the amd64 files in this folder?
    Has 0 to do with your CPU maker and everything to do regarding bit rate compatibilities.
    (AMD did, I think, come out with a 64 bit compatible chip, long before Intel did, if that means anything to you).

    The concept of hardlinks in Windows 7 complicates any discussion of the winsxs folder tremendously.
    You would be more than welcome to experiment with removing various files and folders, but you should have an image on
    hand to recover from in the event of catastrophe.

    Understanding Windows Side-by-side assemblies and the WinSxS folder
    The Winsxs Folder Explained
    Reduce Windows 7 WinSxS Folder Size
    How to cleanup the winsxs folder on Windows 7 (SP1)/ Windows 2008 / Windows 2008 R2 (SP1)
    Last edited by CLiNT; 2012-03-14 at 12:41.

  4. #4
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    I strongly recommend you not manually tinker with the WinSXS folder. There is a good chance you'll damage your system. Read the articles to which CLint linked in post #3.


  5. #5
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    I use ccleaner, including the extended items added by Ccenhancer.
    This has options for cleanups which include Microsoft files such as those in winsxs which are unneccesary.

    The only caveat is that you can't then uninstall service packs or updates, depending on what you've deleted.

    It seems safer to me to use this approach rather than chance messing about directly with the directories themselves.

  6. #6
    Super Moderator bbearren's Avatar
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    The WinSxS folder can be moved in its entirety to another hard drive/partition, and Windows will still work fine, except for the major side effect that most (but not all) Windows Updates will fail.

    If you are using a small drive for the OS, you can move the Program Files folder (and also the Users folder) to another hard drive/partition, and this has no ill effects on either Windows or installed programs, or future installations of programs.

    For more information, visit Set 7 Free. The method is for advanced users.
    Create a fresh drive image before making system changes, in case you need to start over!

    "The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Savvy?"—Captain Jack Sparrow "When you're troubleshooting, start with the simple and proceed to the complex."—M.O. Johns "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else."—Sir Thomas Robert Deware.
    Unleash Windows

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