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I found out my Windows 7 installation which is more than a year old has a bloated Windows (C:\Windows) directory (20GB). Correct me if i am wrong but i don't think this is normal. Is there a way i can fix this and prevent it from happening?

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Yes, this is normal. Windows does many things to allow you to fix problems that might appear. One of those is to maintain a history of the files that change. 20GB is nothing and its unlikely its actually that large, because of of thing it also does is, links files in different locations to one others. This means the same file might be calculated multiple times. Just get a larger hdd. –  Ramhound Dec 10 '12 at 12:38
    
That number also may be artifically high depending on how you arrived at it. The windows sxs folder uses hard links so you may be double counting a lot of files. (windows explorer will double count and give you a wrong number FYI) –  Scott Chamberlain Dec 10 '12 at 12:38
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3 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

It doesn't seams wrong that Windows7 takes 20GB after installation.

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+1 On my windows partition, I have win7, Visual Studio and winamp. Disk usage in the windows directory is: 25GB (and counting) –  mcalex Dec 10 '12 at 11:20
    
Sorry if it is not clear, i'm talking about C:\Windows directory. –  fire'fly Dec 10 '12 at 18:31
    
@fire'fly I'm pretty sure that's what Natim is talking about too. 20GB for that folder isn't all that odd. –  David Dec 10 '12 at 19:49
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One thing you can do to shrink your windows install is remove the uninstall files for the service packs. Running the following command as a elevated command prompt (right click Run as Administrator) will remove the uninstall files and free up some space

dism /online /cleanup-image /spsuperseded

However I am willing to bet that windows is not taking up as much space as you think, the windows sxs (Side by side) system uses Hard Links on the files. Most tools (including windows explorer itself) will count both copies of the file when calculating folder size, however due to how hard links work both copies use the same physical spot on the hard disk so it does not take up that much room.

Programs like WinDirStat are hard link aware and can give you a more accurate picture of disk space usage.

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Thanks, i will check windirstat but when i say windows directory i was meaning to say "C:\Windows" –  fire'fly Dec 10 '12 at 18:36
    
Yes, and with I say windows sxs I mean "C:\Windows\winsxs" –  Scott Chamberlain Dec 10 '12 at 20:10
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the only way to shrink Windows is to uninstall Windows Updates which are replaced by newer ones. Remove old IE updates and this can reduce the size a bit.

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-1 for suggesting uninstalling Windows updates. Normal users should never interfere with Windows update or uninstall patches, as without expert help they will potentially put their machine at risk of being compromised by malware. –  SecurityMatt Dec 13 '12 at 13:49
    
lol If you removed too many updates, WU reinstalls them for you. Based on my request, MS implemented the removal old Updates in Windows 8: msfn.org/board/topic/153742-dism-improvements-in-windows-8/… –  magicandre1981 Dec 13 '12 at 18:02
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