Lets start with this:
I received Vista SP1 update. I have installed Vista on a 13 GB partition, and I had only around 700 MB left. After downloading the update, it said minimum 2GB required. So I set out to explore what is eating so much memory. Turned out Windows folder took a good 10.2 GB of it. And digging deeper the system32 folder took 4.17 GB and there was this other folder named winsxs which took another 4.78 GB. I deleted 1.23 GB promptly from the SoftwareDistribution/Download/ folder which has all the downloaded updates which it doesn’t delete after update installation. Now I wanted to see if I can get rid of this winsxs. And what turned out is quite hilarious and obnoxious.
It is a directory to solve the “dll hell” problem. Windows XP has this directory but much much lesser in size. But there is an innovation involved in Vista. They wanted to solve the “dll hell” problem by storing all the versions of dll that ever comes in through my updates and all versions of dlls that are required by the softwares I install. And when you un-install these software, their dlls remain, as they “could-be-shared”. They chose this method as a great way for giving some amount of backward compatibility. Well this is my frustrated explanation from my reading in the forums. Look here for the official explanation. The baseline is, you can’t delete it, can’t compress it meaningfully, can’t get rid of it in any way. However, there seems to be a way out of this as detailed here, but it cripples certain features.
I am in awe of the brilliant Microsoft crew who came up with this brilliant brute force algorithm for an operating system function. Vista is the first operating system I’ve used for which 13 GB is not enough. I have not installed any programs in the Vista drive. AppData takes up rest of the chunk. Clearing all browser cache and other unwanted data couldn’t help. I was left with 1.8 GB and the update wouldn’t install. How much more ridiculous can it get? And how could they ship such an OS? How could they take this part so lightly. I have seen people commenting about more than 6.5 GB for this winsxs folder. All for the sake of compatibility. Maybe MS employees have unlimited disk storage at their disposal, but who were they shipping this OS to? There were instances where after downloading some updates, there would be just 4MB left on my Vista installation drive…. and sometimes I would be like, “Wow, it can still run with just 4 MB of space left… cool.” But it was terribly slow and then I would restart it and look around to clearing browser caches and such. All in all it has been a constant headache. Oh, and I did good by searching for the “Hibernation File Cleaner” which appears during disk cleanup offering to free up .99 GB for me. And earlier before an update, “Per user queued reports” and “Per user archived reports” used to offer me a cool 2.5 GB of free space. But had I went around “cleaning” them up, my entire 13GB would have been cleaned for me. And cleaning Hibernation File Cleaner cripples the Hibernate feature. Were their testing teams having sex and getting drunk while testing this? Makes me wonder.
I now wish to “get away” from this installation asap and use something sane for the optimal use of my machine.
May Vista rest in peace.