Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

On my XP box, my C:\ is running low on space, and after a massive amount of updates, my Windows directory is consuming 10 GB of storage - of that:

  • 4 GB is in the Installer subdirectory or children
  • 1.6 GB is in the SoftwareDistribution directory
  • 1.1 GB is in the System32 directory

What are my options for paring down some of the cruft that seems to be on here.

Note, this is a dev laptop, so a lot of stuff is on here already: SQL2K, SQL2k5, VS2005, Office2007, etc... I'd rather not have to reinstall Windows (just cause it will probably get the patches back anyways).

share|improve this question

migrated from Sep 4 '09 at 1:01

This question came from our site for system and network administrators.

how big is the drive? 10 GB for windows is not that large at all, especially considering the footprint of two instances of SQL Server (where is the data stored), and VS/Office. – shufler Sep 3 '09 at 21:59
C: is 25 GB total, 6.62 GB left E: is 30.6 GB total, 12.9 GB left (remnants of a removed LINUX partition. I was going to install Visual Studio 10 Beta onto it, and even though I specified I wanted it to go to the E: drive, it was still going to consume almost 3 gb of space in the C: drive. So I thought I'd clear some fat first. – Eli Sep 8 '09 at 17:42
One tool that was useful was WinDirStat to show a usage graph of the hard drive. – Eli Mar 17 '10 at 20:59
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Try the Disk Cleanup Wizard. I know it sounds lame, but bear with me.

After the Disk Cleanup wizard has scanned your drive, go to the "More Options" tab, and there's a button to remove old System Restore checkpoints. Every time my 250gb laptop drive gets full, I just clear out the old restore points and hey presto, another 30gb magically appears. (This 30gb does not show up in your Windows folder, it's a hidden system folder in the root of your drive under System Volume Information).

Worth noting that if you use Shadow Copies, it will also delete your shadow copies, so don't do this if you want to keep revisions of your files in this manner.

I should also second shufler's comments - 10gb is not a big Windows XP install. I just checked mine and it's 7gb exactly (you should see the SxS folder that Vista insists on balooning out, on my Vista machine it's 15gb on its own).

share|improve this answer
Bear in mind that WinSxS on Vista is the original location of any system files. Everything that is somewhere else just happens to be a hardlink into WinSxS. So unless your tool counts hardlinks to the same file just once you are likely off by around 100 % with the size :-) – Joey Sep 4 '09 at 5:29
Following the point about removing old checkpoints, you can also reduce the amount of space for checkpoints so that the drive doesn't fill up again. I'd suggest a minimum of 1GB- that'll be maybe 1 or 2 checkpoints (I'm happy to be corrected on that point.) – outsideblasts Sep 4 '09 at 8:00
If you want a good count of how big your windows directory is really using taking the hardlinks in to account use DiskUsage in the sysinternals suite. For example for me the properties menu reported 39.1 GiB used and du reported 35.7 GiB not re-counting hard links. – Scott Chamberlain Sep 15 '13 at 20:32

ccleaner is a great application for cleaning old files that you no longer need. hard drive space gets eaten up by log files and hot fix installation files.

share|improve this answer
Yeah, I do use that, just not recently - the usage though isn't in the Documents and Settings directory, where CCleaner usually erases from. <BR> <BR>Worth a try though. – Eli Sep 8 '09 at 17:43

Agreed about the SuperUser comment.

You can also safely remove all of those folders that start with $ in your windows folder - they are simply artifacts of Windows updates and Services packs. You can also remove them from your Add/Remove programs window. Make sure to check the box "Show Windows Updates" or something similar.

share|improve this answer

Compress the installer folder by windows NTFS compression. You'll save a lot over there.

Also, delete all files inside c:\windows\system32\dllcache, it'll free you at least a few hundreds MB.

share|improve this answer
Installer files probably won't compress very well either. – Anthony Giorgio Sep 4 '09 at 12:50
@TomWij files in dllcache doesn't affect performance. Tt is just a cache of some DLLs, and IF IN CASE some system file got changed, Windows File Protection (WFP) will try to find the original DLL/EXE, if it isn't there, WFP will prompt you to put in windows CD. Read here: @Nighthawk I had been using a EeePC with 4GB primary partition, and I tried to recover every bit of space. Try to compress your installer folder before saying probably it won't compress very well. – deddebme Sep 4 '09 at 14:40
It does affect performance, caching is made for a reason. I rather have a file cached than having WFP look it up or having to insert the Windows CD myself, which takes a lot more time than having a cached file in place. – Tom Wijsman May 23 '10 at 9:27

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .