Know what your Winsxs folder does!

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Something I often come up against dealing with server systems is low space alerts.

Now it is important to remember at this point that a low space alert on a server is A LOT more serious than a low space alert on your typical Windows XP/7 desktop.

When servers run out of space, their performance is usually compromised, and they can quite often ‘fall over’ (crash) causing all sorts of mayhem in an organisation.

Especially when dealing with Windows 2008/7 and upward, Microsoft implemented a system to deal with what some referred to as ‘DLL hell’ in the Windows 9x generation.
Dont remember that? Well remember when you would do an update and Windows would prompt you with ‘Please insert the compact disk labelled Windows XP CD 1’, prompting you to hunt around for those discs or eventually cancelling the process altogether? Yes… I do too…
To get around this, some would pre-empt this by copying the i386 directory from their original install CD to the root of their C: drive and point it there when the prompt appeared (And it would appear and seemingly random times when installing an application or setting up a printer etc).

The truth is, these prompts were not random, but required the original DLL files from the install CD, sometimes just to compare. The ‘new’ system to get around this meant that a single copy of each file is kept on your hard drive to prevent these annoying situations, with the drawback being that the Winsxs folder would grow to sometimes unreasonable sizes. It also prevents this occuring when the ‘system file checker tool’ is used to fix a broken system.

I would recommend anyone that is interested in this point, and it affects us all at some point, read this article on the Microsoft Technet Blog.

Lastly, for those who wonder what ‘Winsxs’ actually means, it is apparently supposed to mean ‘Windows side by side’.

Get it? Winsxs?
Yeah I thought it was cryptic too…

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