My laptop, a Medion Erazer, is experiencing a serious issue with low disk space due to the ever-growing size of the Windows folder. This folder is currently at 41.9GB, three times larger than the Windows folder on my desktop PC which also runs on Windows 10 pro. I’m not sure why this is happening, and I’m looking for solutions to fix the problem.
After some investigation, I found that the folders System32/DriverStore (17.8 GB), Software Distribution (6.8 GB), and WinSxS (4.4 GB) are consuming the most space. However, on my desktop PC, only the WinSxS folder is nearly as big. I’ve attempted to uninstall old drivers from the driver store, which reduced the size of the DriverStore folder by 3GB, but it still exceeds the size of my entire Windows folder on my desktop PC.
I’m wondering what is causing this significant increase in disk space and if there are any solutions to address the issue.
Understanding the Windows Folder Size Issue
It is not uncommon for users to find that their Windows folder is taking up a significant amount of disk space. This can be quite frustrating, especially when you are not sure what is causing the issue. In this case, the Windows folder on the user’s laptop is consuming more than 40GB of disk space, which is much larger than the same folder on their desktop PC. The main culprits for this disk space consumption are the System32/DriverStore, Software Distribution, and WinSxS folders.
There are several reasons why the Windows folder may be larger on one device compared to another. Factors such as the number of installed applications, updates, and drivers can all contribute to the size of the Windows folder. Additionally, temporary files and caches can accumulate over time, further increasing the folder’s size.
Before attempting to reduce the size of the Windows folder, it is essential to understand the purpose of the folders mentioned above. The System32/DriverStore folder contains all the driver files for the various hardware devices on your computer. The Software Distribution folder is used by Windows Update to store temporary files and update-related data. The WinSxS folder, also known as the Windows Side-by-Side folder, contains multiple versions of system files and libraries, ensuring compatibility with different applications and updates.
Now that we have a better understanding of these folders and their purpose, let’s explore some possible solutions to reduce the size of the Windows folder and free up disk space on your laptop.
It is crucial to approach this issue with caution, as deleting or modifying the wrong files can lead to system instability or even render your computer unusable. Always create a backup of your important data and consider creating a system restore point before making any changes to your Windows folder.
Cleaning Up the System32/DriverStore Folder
As mentioned earlier, the System32/DriverStore folder contains driver files for your computer’s hardware devices. Over time, this folder can grow in size as new drivers are installed, and old ones are not removed. To clean up this folder and remove unnecessary driver files, you can use a built-in Windows tool called Driver Store Explorer (RAPR).
Driver Store Explorer allows you to view and manage the driver files stored in the DriverStore folder. You can safely remove old or unused drivers, potentially reducing the folder’s size. To use Driver Store Explorer, follow these steps:
- Download Driver Store Explorer (RAPR) from its GitHub repository.
- Extract the downloaded ZIP file and run the RAPR.exe file as an administrator.
- The tool will display a list of all the driver files in the DriverStore folder. Look for old or unused drivers, and select them by checking the box next to their name.
- Click the “Delete Package” button to remove the selected drivers from the DriverStore folder. Be cautious when removing drivers, as deleting a necessary driver can cause hardware malfunctions.
- Close Driver Store Explorer and restart your computer to apply the changes.
By using Driver Store Explorer, you can potentially reduce the size of the System32/DriverStore folder and free up disk space on your laptop.
Clearing the Software Distribution Folder
The Software Distribution folder is used by Windows Update to store temporary files and update data. Over time, this folder can accumulate a significant amount of data, especially if you have not cleared it in a while. To clean up the Software Distribution folder, follow these steps:
- Press the Windows key + R to open the Run dialog box.
- Type “services.msc” (without quotes) and press Enter.
- In the Services window, locate the “Windows Update” service, right-click it, and select “Stop.”
- Open File Explorer and navigate to the following location: C:WindowsSoftwareDistribution
- Select all the files and folders within the Software Distribution folder and delete them. This will not harm your system, as Windows will recreate any necessary files when needed.
- Return to the Services window, right-click the “Windows Update” service, and select “Start.”
By clearing the Software Distribution folder, you can potentially reduce the size of the Windows folder and free up additional disk space on your laptop.
Cleaning Up the WinSxS Folder
The WinSxS folder contains multiple versions of system files and libraries to ensure compatibility with different applications and updates. While this folder is essential for the proper functioning of your system, it can grow in size over time. Fortunately, Windows has a built-in tool called Disk Cleanup that can help you safely clean up the WinSxS folder.
To use Disk Cleanup to clean up the WinSxS folder, follow these steps:
- Press the Windows key + S and type “Disk Cleanup” (without quotes) in the search box.
- Select “Disk Cleanup” from the search results and choose the drive where your Windows folder is located (usually the C: drive).
- Wait for Disk Cleanup to analyze your drive and calculate the amount of space that can be freed up.
- In the Disk Cleanup window, click the “Clean up system files” button. This will allow Disk Cleanup to scan the WinSxS folder for unnecessary files.
- Once the scan is complete, select the items you wish to remove, such as “Windows Update Cleanup,” “Windows upgrade log files,” and “Device driver packages.” Make sure to read the description of each item before selecting it for removal.
- Click the “OK” button, followed by the “Delete Files” button to start the cleanup process.
Using Disk Cleanup to clean up the WinSxS folder can help reduce the overall size of the Windows folder and free up valuable disk space on your laptop.
Uninstalling Unused Applications and Features
Another way to reduce the size of the Windows folder is to uninstall unused applications and features. Many applications and Windows features can take up a significant amount of disk space. By removing the ones you no longer need, you can potentially free up additional disk space.
To uninstall unused applications, go to Settings > Apps > Apps & features, and browse through the list of installed applications. Click on any application you no longer need and select “Uninstall” to remove it from your system.
To remove unused Windows features, go to Control Panel > Programs > Turn Windows features on or off. Browse through the list of Windows features and uncheck the ones you no longer need. Click “OK” to apply the changes and restart your computer if prompted.
By uninstalling unused applications and features, you can potentially reduce the size of the Windows folder and free up more disk space on your laptop.
Performing a Disk Cleanup
In addition to cleaning up the specific folders mentioned earlier, it is also a good idea to perform a general disk cleanup to remove temporary files, system logs, and other unnecessary files that may be taking up disk space. As mentioned earlier, you can use the built-in Disk Cleanup tool to perform this task.
Run Disk Cleanup as described in the “Cleaning Up the WinSxS Folder” section above, but instead of selecting only the system files, also select items such as “Temporary Internet Files,” “Temporary files,” “System error memory dump files,” and “Recycle Bin.” Once you have selected all the items you wish to remove, click the “OK” button, followed by the “Delete Files” button to start the cleanup process.
Performing a regular disk cleanup can help keep your Windows folder size under control and free up valuable disk space on your laptop.
While it is not uncommon for the Windows folder to consume a significant amount of disk space, there are several steps you can take to reduce its size and free up valuable disk space on your laptop. By cleaning up the System32/DriverStore, Software Distribution, and WinSxS folders, uninstalling unused applications and features, and performing regular disk cleanups, you can potentially reduce the size of your Windows folder and ensure that your laptop runs smoothly and efficiently.
Always exercise caution when making changes to your system files and folders, and consider creating a backup of your important data and a system restore point before making any changes. By following the steps outlined in this blog post, you can take control of your Windows folder size and maintain a healthy and efficient laptop.
The Software Distribution folder serves as a location for Windows Update to store updates before they are installed. Based on its size, it appears to contain an entire version of Windows.
To resolve this issue, you can try checking if there are any pending updates in the “Windows Update” section under “Settings” > “Update & Security.” Even if it shows that your system is up to date, try clicking on “Check for updates” to ensure that there are no pending updates.
If there are no pending updates, you can clear the Software Distribution folder by following these steps:
1. Launch an elevated Command Prompt (cmd)
2. Enter the provided commands:
net stop wuauserv net stop bits rename C:\windows\SoftwareDistribution SoftwareDistribution.bak net start wuauserv net start bits
If you encounter no negative consequences after rebooting Windows and waiting a day or two, it should be safe to delete the backup folder named “
The DriverStore folder contains device driver packages that are ready to be installed, as well as older versions of drivers that can be used to revert updated drivers. It is generally best to let Windows manage this folder, but if it becomes too large, you can clean it up.
To do so, start by creating a restore point. Then, run the Disk Cleanup Wizard by pressing Win+R and entering the command “
cleanmgr.exe“. In the Disk Cleanup for (C:) window, click on the “
Cleanup System Files” button, select the “
Device driver packages” option, and click OK.
However, this method may not be sufficient to remove most of the files in this folder. To remove more data, you will need to proceed with extreme caution and delete one driver at a time. Begin by creating a list of all drivers using “
pnputil.exe /e > c:\drivers.txt“. To delete unnecessary drivers, use the command “
pnputil.exe /d oemNN.inf“, where “
oemNN.inf” is found in the list.
Be extremely careful when removing drivers, and if you accidentally delete the wrong ones, boot into Windows to restore them. In case of an unrecoverable error, roll back to the saved System Restore point.