My SSD is near capacity. What can I do?

I see this question a lot and it actually bothered me that my 120 GB Solid State Drive (SSD) was near full capacity despite the fact I install almost everything on a secondary drive. I try to keep only my Windows installation on the SSD for incredibly fast boot times. If you’re unfamiliar with the SSD, here’s a simple comparison with the same computer by ASUS:

SSD is the new up-and-coming technology for data storage. Unlike the regular hard drive that most people have, it doesn’t use a disk and thus no spin motor. It simply uses integrated circuits, so it makes it much faster than the HD.

Ever since the horrible Windows Vista, Microsoft has stored backups, restore points, and installers into your computer. This isn’t necessarily bad. Backups and restore points are very useful if you have a virus or after an update the computer becomes unusable. Installers are the same thing, just at an application level. If you want to keep any of this information, then you should only do section A of this article and ignore section B.

Section A

  1. The first step would be to try Disk Cleanup utility automatically included in Windows. Go ahead and click that link to a wonderful tutorial by Microsoft.
  2. The next option is using CCleaner (Crap Cleaner). Don’t worry, it’s free, but you can upgrade if you really want to. This software searches your computer for data files no longer needed, temporary files, duplicate files, amongst other… well, crap. They have a wonderful tutorial series if you need it.
  3. What about defragmentation? This only works for hard drives. Defragmentation moves information that is needed towards the middle since disks spin faster there. It moves unneeded files towards the edge. Since SSD’s don’t have a disk, this has no use!

Section B

I highly recommend downloading a disk size scanning software like WinDirStat (also free) to help dive deep into what is causing data consumption. Many of you will find two folders of interest in particular: winsxs and Installer under the Windows directory.

I got bad news and good news for you. The good news is that both of these directories can be moved. The bad news is that you probably shouldn’t. Remember how I mentioned earlier about Microsoft referencing installation files and what not for backups? Well if that information is gone, how will you backup anything?

However, Microsoft does have some fancy linking technology that we can take advantage of. We can basically force Windows to believe that those files and folders are there even if they’re not. I’ll start with Installer:

  1. Start off by creating a backup folder on another drive. For this example, I named mine D:\Backups\Installer
  2. Open command promptĀ 
  3. Type: “robocopy C:\Windows\Installer D:\Backups\Installer” – The second directory should be your backup folder. Hit enter.
    Robocopy is a neat Microsoft built utility that copies massive amounts of files almost instantly
  4. When that’s done, type: “mklink C:\Windows\Installer D:\Backups\Installer” (or the backup folder) and hit enter.
    This nice feature is creating the actual link so Windows thinks that the installation files are where they should be
  5. You may now delete the C:\Windows\Installer folder

Now you will notice a huge amount of capacity restored to your SSD. But, what about winsxs folder? I highly don’t recommend it. It is possible, however. While you have WinDirStat open, I would recommend digging into other folders you may not find necessary, especially those under Users first. Typically, there is a lot of temporary stored data in the Users\AppData folder. CCleaner should’ve cleaned some of this stuff if you ran it beforehand.

I hope this helps!