“System Volume Information?” (XP and WinME)

Hi Fred, I am sure this is somewhere in the archives, but I can’t seem to find it. I am running XP Professional [but this also applies to WinME], and I have a hidden folder called System Volume Information that is over 6Gb and 31% of the total used space on my computer. What is this folder for, and can I delete it safely? Thanks, Cliff Bassett

You can reduce it, but not by simple deletion. The biggest part of the "System Volume Information" folder is the "Restore Points" created by System Restore— a Windows utility that’s something like "GoBack" that lets you undo or roll back some system changes in the event that something— an update, upgrade, new software install, whatever— doesn’t work out.

System Restore can be useful, up to a very limited point. But it’s really only an emergency tool, and is not meant to take the place of normal backups. (For that matter, tools like GoBack also aren’t meant to take the place of backups: Even GoBack’s own documentation stresses that.)

On its own, System Restore is a space hog— hence the large size of the System Volume Information folder. But System Restore isn’t hard to control. In fact, the article "Maximizing System Restore In WinME and WinXP"
http://www.informationweek.com/story/IWK20020711S0009 will walk you through the whole process. You can even turn off System Restore completely, which drives the System Volume Information folder down to the smallest possible size.

Note that it wouldn’t make sense to try to remove the System Volume Information folder directly because (1) the OS will fight you and (2) if System Restore is still running, the folder will simply come back, and eventually will be just as big as before.

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Fred Langa

About Fred Langa

Fred Langa is senior editor. His LangaList Newsletter merged with Windows Secrets on Nov. 16, 2006. Prior to that, Fred was editor of Byte Magazine (1987 to 1991) and editorial director of CMP Media (1991 to 1996), overseeing Windows Magazine and others.