Windows Store apps need your disk space

One of the beauties of the Windows Store apps is that they can be updated quite seamlessly: almost automatically, without administrative privileges. Developers enjoy this comfort, and no week pass without new updates to some of the apps on my machine.

Of course this convenience comes with some drawback as well, with the need for disk space. Windows Store applications are installed into the C:\Program Files\WindowsApps hidden folder, which by default can be accessed only by the Trusted Installer service. If you grant yourself access to this folder, you can peek into its content and find out what consumes so much disk space (3GB on my box).

You will see something similar there:


If you dive deeper into these folders, you will see the application files: the full source of HTML5+JavaScript apps, and the compiled DLLs for .NET apps.

You can notice that every version of every apps live in its own folder, so they are completely isolated from each other. With this separation you can easily measure how much disk space an application, or one version of an application requires. If you compare that with the numbers in the PC Settings –> General –> View app sizes list, you will see that it only displays the size of the last version of the apps installed only by the current user.

But why are there multiple versions?

One reason is to isolate the users of the computer from each other. As long as two users of the machine install the same version of the same app, the program files will be stored only in a single instance. But when one user updates the app in her own profile, then the OS will store two versions of the same app. With this not only applications, but also the users are completely isolated from each other.

Another reason is, that Windows preserves the versions that came with the OS, so when you create a new user, she will get the baked in versions.

Now, that you know the reasons, you can definitely ask, how can we get rid of the unused versions?

I have to admit, I’m not aware of any official solution for that. If you know any, please don’t hesitate to share that here in a comment. But, according to some sources, Windows cleans up this folder, “when needed”. Anybody knows what that exactly means?



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