If the Windows folder is too big on your Windows 11/10 computer, use the suggestions provided in this article to decrease its size and free up disk space.
By default, the Windows operating system is installed on the C drive. If you open your C drive, you will see many folders there, including Windows, Program Files, Program Files (x86), etc. The Program Files and Program Files (x86) folders contain files required by the programs you install on your system. Hence, the size of these two folders depends on how many programs are installed on your system. In most cases, the Windows folder occupies the largest space on your disk. The size of the Windows folder can also increase with time.
The size of a folder depends on the files stored inside it. You can view the size of any folder by opening its Properties. An empty folder shows a size of 0 bytes because no files are inside it. As you start storing your files inside a folder, its size starts increasing.
What is the Windows folder?
The Windows folder is the folder that contains essential Windows operating system files. These files are required by the operating system to function properly. Deleting this folder is obviously not recommended – and even if you did try to delete it, it would not normally be possible.
But what if the Windows folder size is too big? On my computer, the size of the Windows folder is around 20 GB. Its size could vary depending on your Windows version, programs installed, etc.
If you open the Windows folder, you will see many different subfolders. All these subfolders have different sizes. In most cases, the WinSxS, System32, FileRepository, DriverStore, etc., folders occupy the most space on the C drive.
Windows folder too big in Windows 11/10
When a folder is huge, the simplest way to decrease its size is to delete the unnecessary files inside it. The same thing also applies to the Windows folder, but you cannot delete any random file inside the Windows folder. This is because it contains the most crucial files required by the Windows operating system to operate properly. Therefore, you should know which files are important in the Windows folder before you start deleting them. Moreover, if you do try and delete files here, you might not be able to as they are system-protected.
This article will guide you on what you can do if the Windows folder is too big in your Windows 11/10 computer. Before we begin, let’s see some essential subfolders in the Windows folder.
- System32: The System32 folder is an essential folder that contains crucial system files, including drivers, DLL files, etc.
- Fonts: The Fonts folder contains your system fonts. Any custom fonts that you install are also located inside this folder.
- SystemResources: As the name implies, the SystemResources folder contains the important files used by the Windows operating system to manage system resources. Deleting this folder can cause Windows to malfunction.
- WinSxS: WinSxS stands for Windows Side by Side. It stores multiple copies of DLL files, exe files, and other system files that let multiple applications in Windows run without any compatibility issues.
- DriverStore: The driver files are stored in the DriverStore folder. The FileRepository is a sub-folder here.
Use the following suggestions if the Windows folder is too big on your system.
- Use TreeSize or another similar software
- Run the Disk Cleanup utility
- Delete the unnecessary files inside the Windows folder
- Check the size of the CBS folder
- Cleanup WinSxS folder
- Cleanup DriverStore folder
- Use Compact Windows OS
Let’s see all these fixes in detail.
1] Use TreeSize or another similar software
TreeSize is free software that analyzes the disk space on a computer system and shows the tree view of the files, folders, and subfolders along with their sizes. It will make it easier for you to know which files and folders inside the Windows folder are eating the most space on your C drive.
Once you know this, you can move to the next step which is to delete unnecessary files and folders inside the Windows folder.
2] Run the Disk Cleanup utility
The right thing to do is never delete anything directly from the Windows folder at all. If anything takes up a lot of disk space in that folder, the best way is to use Disk Cleanup Tool or Storage Sense. Run the Disk Cleanup tool as administrator to see more options, and make sure you delete all but the latest system restore points too.
3] Delete the unnecessary files inside the Windows folder
Though the Windows folder is a crucial folder that contains important system files, it also contains some files that you can delete. Deleting such files will not affect your system. Files inside the Temp folder, Downloaded Program Files folder, Prefetch folder, SoftwareDistribution folder, unwanted Fonts, Hibernate File, etc., are some files you can delete from the Windows folder.
4] Check the size of the CBS folder
CBS.log file contains logs about Windows system files, System File Checker, etc. Its size can also increase with time. Some users have found that the CBS.log file was consuming a huge space on their disk, around 20 GB. It is located inside the Logs folder. The complete path of the CBS.log file is:
Because the CBS.log file is located inside the Windows folder, its huge size also contributes to the size of the Windows folder. Check the size of the CBS.log file on your computer. If it is taking up a huge space, delete it. Deleting this file will not cause any adverse effect on your system.
5] Cleanup WinSxS folder
WinSxS stands for Windows Side by Side. It is a folder that contains essential files required by the Windows operating system.
You cannot delete this directory or move it elsewhere. Nor is it advisable to delete anything here, as such a step could probably make your applications un-workable or even break your system.
Windows automatically keeps reducing the size of the WinSxS folder by using different techniques, such as uninstalling or deleting the packages with components that have been replaced by newer versions of components. Windows keeps previous versions of components for some period of time. After that, these components will be removed automatically.
WinSxS folder is the main contributor to an increased size of Windows folder. Hence, performing a WinSxS folder cleanup will result in a significant reduction in the Windows folder size.
6] Cleanup DriverStore folder
The Driver Store is a trusted collection of third-party driver packages as well as native device drivers that ship with the system, which is maintained in a secure location on the local hard disk. Before a driver can be installed, it must first be injected into the driver store which is located under C:\Windows\System32\DriverStore\FileRepository. All files that are in the driver package are considered critical to the device installation.
Follow this post to safely clean up the DriverStore folder.
7] Use Compact Windows OS
Use this command only if you know what you are doing. This command helps you reduce the overall storage space of Windows installation. Termed as Compact OS, once executed, the system will run from compressed files, similar to WIMBoot.
General tips to free up more disk space:
- Run cleanmgr /sageset:1. You will see more cleanup options
- Remove previous Windows installations/Windows.old
- Make Disk Cleanup Tool delete ALL temporary files, including those created in the last 7 days.
- Delete previous System Images and Backups.
- Delete $Windows.~BT and $Windows.~WS folders.
Why is Windows folder 20 GB?
The size of the main folder is the combined size of files and subfolders stored inside it. If the Windows folder shows a size of 20 GB, it may be considered as normal for a day-to-day Windows 11/10 PC. Most of these files are essential parts of the Windows operating system. Hence, these cannot be deleted. But some files can be deleted from the Windows folder, and this action does not cause any harm to your computer.
TIP: Go here to find out more ways to free up & increase hard disk space on Windows computers.
How do I reduce folder size in Windows 11?
To reduce a folder size in Windows 11, delete the unnecessary files inside that folder. If the folder contains essential system files, you cannot delete these files to reduce the folder size. Doing so will make your system unstable.
Read next: AppData Packages folder huge in Windows.