I’ve been largely satisfied with windows 7 since I’ve had it (which is close to the very beginning of windows 7’s run). It looks relatively good and it works well (I have yet to experience a major crash). But now I’ve found something annoying about the OS, it as a size creep that slowly fills my hard drive. Now, usually that probably wouldn’t be a problem since I would be working on a modern desktop with a few hundred gig of hard drive space. However that not the case, my window bootcamp partition on my Mac is only 30 Go and is used to play one MMO (DDO online if you must know), since windows 7 is supposed to take some 15 Go, and the game somewhere around 5-7 Go, I should have plenty of free space.
Well you can understand my surprise when I found that I had less than 1 Go free this Sunday. I had installed some other old games for distraction a few months back so I decided to delete them and fee some place. With a few Go free, I used the disk cleanup to free a few more Go, by removing some windows temporary files (2 Go worth of windows temporary files…) Now, before rebooting I looked at the free space on my hard drive and found it was at a small but comfortable 4 Go. One reboot later… less than 3 Go free, the missing Go taken up by one of windows system folder.
After reading up on the issue apparently windows vista and 7 set up a folder where they keep and use former version of dll and configuration files to maximize the compatibility and efficiency of the process. The problem is that it seems set up to keep multiple copies of the file, or at least the way it set up the link produce a false computation of files size and free space. In short it seems to compute the size of some file more than once when looking at how much disk space you have. A few extra Go on a hundred gig hard rive is not much of a problem, you’ll probably have far more temporary files and random junk than the size lost to this process. However, on small partition or hard drive well it can be a problem.
Now, add to this that it is almost impossible to know which copy/link are actually still required for your computer (windows program are notoriously bad at cleaning up after uninstallation) and the idea that it keep the undo data of each update in a system folder that is difficult to identify and delete and you see windows 7 filling more than 25 Go of your hard drive easily. It makes me think that somewhere in the developpement process of windows vista a problem came up and a work around was found. It worked relatively well but was not perfect but not annoying enough to warrant an urgent fix. It got ported to windows 7 as it still worked but it starting to show it’s flaw but wasn’t bad enough to require a fix. Maybe in a new version of windows or when it starts to be a major annoyance (unlikely with the cost of disk space) it will be fixed.