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What Is the WinSxS Folder and Can You Clean it Up?

The WinSxS folder (Windows Side by Side) is an important system folder inside Windows based systems.

Purpose

It stores multiple versions of system components, DLLs and other files. Generally stuff that you can’t really get rid of without breaking things.

Location

You can find it at C:\Windows\WinSxS.

The Most Important Functions of WinSxS

  • It enables side by side assembly of different versions of components.
  • Supports Windows Update and system restore features.
  • Allows rollback to previous versions if needed.

Size

Very large and it can take a massive amount of your disk space which is likely why you’re here in the first place.

Management

  • Automatically managed by Windows.
  • A direct manual cleanup where you go file by file and try to figure out what file you need or not, is not that great of an idea.

Benefits

  • It improves system stability.
  • Reduces conflicts between applications.
  • Facilitates easier updates and patches.

Now the Big Question

Can you clean it up to reduce its size?

Kind of, you can first:

1. Use the Disk Cleanup Tool First

  • Search for *Disk Cleanup* in the Start menu.
  • Select your system drive (usually C:).
  • Click *Clean up system files*.
  • Check *Windows Update Cleanup* and other relevant options.
  • Run the cleanup.

2. Use the DISM command

  • Open Command Prompt as an administrator.
  • Run this command: DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-Image /StartComponentCleanup
  • For more aggressive cleanup which removes the ability to uninstall updates: DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-Image/ StartComponentCleanup /ResetBase

3. Enable Storage Sense

  • Go to Settings –> System –> Storage.
  • Turn on Storage Sense.
  • Enable it to run automatically.

4. Use the Compact OS Feature

  • Open Command Prompt as an administrator.
  • Run this command: compact.exe /compactos:always

5. Uninstall Unused Windows Features

  • Go to Control Panel –> Programs –> Turn Windows features On or Off.
  • Uncheck features you don’t use.

6. Keep Windows Updated

Regular updates will almost always include cleanup routines for WinSxS.

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