On Windows 10, "WinSxS" (Windows Side by Side) is an essential folder within the "Windows" folder, which contains most of the components to customize and update the current installation. For instance, inside the WinSxS folder are located the files to add or remove features, switch editions, recover damaged or missing system files, and pretty much everything else that makes up the OS.

Also, when installing quality updates, the new components will store in the WinSxS folder as well as the previous version of the components in the case rolling back to an earlier build is necessary to remove a problematic update. As a result, over time, the folder will continue to increase its size without a set limit.

While the WinSxS folder is expected to grow larger over time, the actual size on disk isn't as big as it may seem. The problem is that most people would use File Explorer to calculate its size. Because the folder uses "hard linking," a technique that allows the creation of pointers of an original file with entirely different names and locations in the same partition, they'll appear as separate files to applications (such as File Explorer) reporting the wrong size.

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If you're trying to free up space, you won't be able to delete the WinSxS folder. However, it's possible to reduce its size deleting those files that are no longer required for the operation of Windows 10, and you can accomplish this task using Command Prompt, Storage sense, and even the legacy Disk Cleanup tool.

In this Windows 10 guide, we'll walk you through the steps to properly clean up the WinSxS folder to reclaim storage space on your computer.

How to reduce size of WinSxS folder using Command Prompt

If you want to clean up the WinSxS folder with Command Prompt, you'll have to use the Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) tool in a two-step process. You first want to determine the actual size of the folder on the drive, and then you need to run the command to delete the files wasting space.

Checking WinSxS folder size

To determine the actual size of the WinSxS folder, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Command Prompt, right-click the top result, and select the Run as administrator option.
  3. Type the following command to determine the size of the WinSxS folder and press Enter:

    dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /AnalyzeComponentStore

  4. Confirm the reported size of the component store to see how much space the WinSxS folder is taking.
  5. Check the "Component Store Cleanup Recommended" information to determine if cleanup is necessary.

Once you complete the steps, you'll be able to determine the actual size of the Windows Side by Side folder and if cleanup is recommended.

In addition, the command will return other useful information, such as how much of the components are shared with Windows 10 as well as the size for backups and disabled features, and the last time you use the cleanup tool.

Cleaning up WinSxS folder

To reduce the size of the WinSxS folder using Command Prompt, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Command Prompt, right-click the top result, and select the Run as administrator option.
  3. Type the following command to determine the size of the WinSxS folder and press Enter:

    dism /online /Cleanup-Image /StartComponentCleanup

After you complete the steps, the command will run to delete those components wasting space on the hard drive. However, once the WinSxS is clean, you won't be able to roll back to a previous build until the next update.

If you want to determine how much space you have reclaimed using Command Prompt, you can re-run the command to analyze the folder and compare the "Actual Size of Component Store" values with the previous result.

How to reduce size of WinSxS folder using Storage sense

To clean up the WinSxS folder with Storage sense, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click on Storage.
  4. Under the "Local Disk" section, click the Temporary files item.

    Quick tip: If you don't see the item, click the Show more categories to find it.

  5. Clear the default selection.
  6. Check the Windows Update Cleanup option.

  7. Click the Remove files option.

Once you complete the steps, the Windows Update Cleanup item will disappear from Storage sense, but it doesn't mean that the WinSxS folder is no longer available. It'll be still part of the "Windows" folder, but without the files that may unnecessarily be using space on the primary hard drive.

How to reduce size of WinSxS folder using Disk Cleanup

Alternatively, you can also shrink the size of the WinSxS folder with the legacy Disk Cleanup tool using these steps:

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Click on This PC from the left pane.
  3. Under the "Devices and drives" section, right-click the "Local Disk" drive and select the Properties option.

  4. Click the General tab.
  5. Click the Disk Cleanup button.

  6. Click the Clean up system files button.

  7. Clear the default selection.
  8. Check the Windows Update Cleanup option.

  9. Click the OK button.

After you complete the steps, the Disk Cleanup tool will delete all the temporary files found inside WinSxS, but without removing the folder.

While these instructions will help to reduce the footprint of WinSxS, the folder will eventually increase in size again as new updates and components become available. As part of the maintenance process, Windows 10 will try to reduce the size of the folder automatically, but you can always repeat the steps regularly to keep it as small as possible.

If you're looking for other ways to free up space on Windows 10, check out this comprehensive guide with the best tips to delete temporary files from your device.

More Windows 10 resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10, visit the following resources: