WinSXS folder - Real or Links? Move / Don't Move

Like many others (judging from the number of posts) the WinSXS folder on some of our servers is rapidly eating up free disc space.  Due to the number of differing opinions I have come across, please can someone give a definitive answer to the following :

1. Are the files in the winsxs folder 'real' or hard links to files elsewhere ?

2. Can the winsxs folder be safely moved off to another drive and a hard link created to redirect requests to the new location?  ( machine's are all vms so if the folder can be moved I would attach a new thin prov volume and drop the winsxs folder in this ). Only other option is to expand the existing volume but as mine are all thick provisioned I wouldn't want to add masses of space - if this the only way to do it, however, I'll settle for having to just add a bit more space as and when required.

o/s = Windows 2008 R2 ( vm under VMware ESXi 4.1.0 )
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cmdownAsked:
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Nagendra Pratap SinghCommented:
If it is a VM then just expand the virtual hard drive.

As for converting Thick provisioned to thin provision, it can be done if you have Storage Vmotion available.

Less hassle and more direct than moving the hardlinks.
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Alex Green3rd Line Server SupportCommented:
1. Not sure about real files

2. No you can't move them off elsewhere, if it's windows 2008r2 you can do disk clean up and delete update files. That will clean off all the files it can safely, if you don't have the disk cleanup option (default isn't installed) then follow this

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff630161%28v=ws.10%29.aspx
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Don't Move, Re-size the virtual disk.

see my EE Article

HOW TO:  Resize a VMware (VMDK) Virtual Disk
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kchallCommented:
i have run this command on our 2008 servers as well as the windows 7 ones.

DISM /online /Cleanup-Image /SpSuperseded

The WinSXS folder is used to store install and uninstall files, windows packages (current and previous versions of a component) and out-of-band releases. You should not completely delete this folder. Post Windows 7 SP1, there is now a way to remove the unnecessary files from this folder using the command line (elevated/admin mode -> Click Start -> Type “cmd” in Search. Right click on “cmd” and choose “Run as Administrator”). This is great for reducing the Windows folder size for SSDs and netbooks. In my case it saved 3.5GB of space.
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cmdownAuthor Commented:
Hi jc

Thanks for your post (above).  I've had a look at the article earlier this week but have not had a chance to test out.  I will hopefully do this before the end of next week and will update this Q accordingly.
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LeeTutorretiredCommented:
I've requested that this question be deleted for the following reason:

Not enough information to confirm an answer.
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Nagendra Pratap SinghCommented:
Multiple answers were given. All have some merit.
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jcimarronCommented:
cmdown--There is still time for you to accept a solution.
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jcimarronCommented:
cmdown asked two questions:
1. Are the files in the winsxs folder 'real' or hard links to files elsewhere ?

2. Can the winsxs folder be safely moved off to another drive and a hard link created to redirect requests to the new location?  But this was asked in the context of reducing disk space.  

In http:#a39701442 I answered question 1. (They are real files.)  And I also inferred that there were ways to reduce the size of the Winsxs file other than moving it in answer to question 2.

So http:#a39701442 should certainly be one solution.  Whether the other suggestions work, I have not tried.
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