Windows 7 System Volume Information


Honorable Member
May 29, 2009
Something curious that I noticed while defragging my new installation of W7 is that System Volume Information is divided into 5 folders, while the old installation is only divided into two folders, even though far less programs are installed on the new (65GB vs 165GB).

As far as I know, this is something out of my control, yet I don't understand why Windows would control it in this fashion either? After the defrag, almost all of the remaining fragmentation is within these directories, the only exception being the MFT, which I think I do understand why it is divided as it is.

Is there something that I could have done to prevent this, or less likely, to remedy it?

System Restore is known to make this area massive. However, this area also contains:
  • System Restore Points
  • Distributed Link Tracking Service for link and shortcut repair
  • Content Indexing Services (The search index)
  • Volume Shadow Copy (Volume Snapshot Service)

WinFS databases were going to be stored there before they abandoned the filesystem. Assuming you disable or limit any of the services I have listed above, the problem should diminish somewhat. Even adjusting the size of your System Restore points could play a major factor in this area.

I imagine that you are probably right about the restore points being the culprit, because there were so many Windows Updates to install when I started out this time, that I ran them in very small batches, increasing the number of restore points.

I just checked and there weren't as many as I thought there would be (13). I think that I shall delete all of them and make a single new restore point. Maybe that will trim some of those System Volume Information folders.

I like to be in control of what is available for recovery and whilst system restore can be invaluable I have often found that good old Sod's Law dictates that the one you need has just been pushed out to make way for a more recent one. I save a lot of space and other resources by having system restore turned off and using Acronis True Image to make full system backups on a regular basis as well as before making any major changes or installing something I'm unsure of. This needs a planned and disciplined strategy of course and many may understandably prefer to trust in the automated system restore system.

I use True Image also, but have found that in some situations that restore points can be very handy. However I generally limit their use to the most recent copy, when a problem arises because of some specific event that I can identify. In such cases, the problem may be much quicker and easier dealt with by the restore system. In any event, I prefer not to rely soly on just one method of resolution.

There are 5 different things that can contribute to System Volume Information folder size,

1) System Restore points. You can disable System Restore from the "System" control panel.
2) Distributed Link Tracking Service databases for repairing your shortcuts and linked documents. (note this service can be disabled for most users)
3) Content Indexing Service databases for fast file searches. That is the content indexer itself, busy scanning your files and building its database so you can search for them quickly. (If you created a lot of data in a short time, the content indexer service gets all excited trying to index it.)
4) Information used by the Volume Snapshot Service (also known as "Volume Shadow Copy") so you can back up files on a live system.
5) Systems with WinFS keep their databases here.

If your using a backup program that utilizes Shadow Copy for real time uninterrupted online backups it very well could be the culprit, and adjusting System Restore's allowed disk space is simple enough...