Windows Guide

Guide to the Windows Folder

The C:\Windows folder is where Windows stores the files needed for the Operating System to support.
The Windows folder contains many files and subfolders, each with a specific folder so that Windows can quickly and easily find the files it wants. By default the C:\Windows and C:\Windows\System32 are included in the Command Path so that it can load up common programs such as the Accessories and tools provided in Windows. If the Windows version is 64 bit, then you may get a SysWOW64 folder to store 32-bit compatible system files to run 32-bit applications
Each PC has its own Windows folders and may be different from machine to machine depending on their setup and what applications are installed. Some folders you may not have and you may have extra folders not listed.

Folder Purpose
Addins Contains Fax Server Extension files
ADFS Active Directory Federation Services. Contains Microsoft Identity Server Web resources DLLs.
AppCompat Contains application compatibilty reports and files
AppPatch Contains Windows Compatibilty DLLs
AppReadiness Unknown
assembly Contains .NET Framework entries
AUInstallAgent All-User Install Agent folder
bcastdvr Broadcast files
BitLockerDiscoveryVolumeContents Used by BitLocker disk encryption system.
Boot Boot Configuration Data (BCD) files
Branding Contains Base Branding Resource DLLs
BrowserChoice Contains Web browser choice files
Camera Camera utility files
CbsTemp Unknown
ConfigSetRoot Unknown
Containers Windows defender application guard wim file
CSC Client Side Caching files for offline folders (protected)
cursors Contains mouse cursor files (.cur)
Debug Contains debugging log files
Diagnostics Diagnostic xml files, powershell scripts.
DiagTrack Diagnostic track xml and data files.
DigitalLocker Digital locker files
DesktopTileResources Desktop tile images and resource files
Downloaded Program Files Contains ActiveX controls for IE
ehome Contains some windows programs
ELAMBKUP McAfee (Early Launch AntiMalware) Elam Driver SYS file
en WLXPGSS.SCR.mui file
en-GB Various mui files
en-US Various mui files
Fonts Contains Bitmap, Truetype and Opentype fonts for applications
GameBarPresenceWriter Game bar files
Globalization Contains dictionaires, transliteration, nls and xml files.
Help Contains windows help files and complied html help files
IdentityCRL Identity certificate revocation list files
ime Contains some Input Method Editor DLLs
ImmersiveControlPanel Microsoft System Settings program and files
InboxApps Flip Grid PWA and Outlook PWA files
inf Contains driver information files needed to install drivers
InfusedApps InfusedApps files
InputMethod Contains language dictionary type files (lex, lm, dic)
Installer Various Microsoft Installer (msi) or patch (msp) files
it-IT Various mui files (italian)
L2Schemas Contains LAN or WAN XML Schema files
LanguageOverlayCache Language overlay cache files
LastGood Last known good system files
LiveKernelReports Contains DMP files (protected)
Logs Contains various files
Media Contains sound files for system events (.wav)
Microsoft.NET Contains .NET Framework system files
Migration Unknown
Minidump Contains small DMP files (protected)
ModemLogs Contains modem log files (protected)
msdownld.tmp Contains Microsoft temporary files (hidden)
OCR Microsoft OCR resource files
Offline Web Pages Contains web pages saved from Internet for offline access
Panther Contains WICA xml and other files
PCHEALTH Contains various PC Health Check files
Performance Contains WAV, MP4 and other files
PLA Contains various system diagnostic reports in XML
PolicyDefinitions Contains group and local policy definition files
Prefetch Contains copies of system files needed to preload to speed up bootup
PrintDialog Print dialog files
Provisioning Microsoft desktop provisioning files
Pss Unknown
Registration Contains crm files
RemotePackages Package file for remote apps or remote desktop
rescache Contains resource cache files
Resources Contains themes files
Resources\Ease of Access Themes Contains Windows themes for ease of access tools
Resources\Themes Contains Windows themes for customising destkop
SchCache Contains cache files
schemas Contains XSD Schema files
security Contains security logs and files
ServiceProfiles Contains profiles for service accounts (Local and Network)
ServiceState Service state files
servicing Contains TrustedInstaller program and various XML files
Setup Contains setup files e.g state.ini
ShellComponents Windows composable shell experiences files
ShellExperiences Library files for apps
SKB Contains language model files
SoftwareDistribution Contains Windows Update files
Speech Contains Speech Recognition program and files
Speech_OneCore Speech core files
symbols Contains source browser database files (pdb) for msvcp and vccorlib.
system Contains library DLLs for Windows 9x programs (for compatibility)
system32 Contains programs, library and driver files for Windows (if its a 64-bit OS, this contains the 64 bit versions of the files. See SysWOW64 for 32-bit versions).
system32\1033 Contains system files (error reporting)
system32\AdvancedInstallers CMI Configuration Management DLL files
system32\AppLocker Unknown
system32\appmgmt Unknown
system32\appraiser Appraiser data files
system32\AppV Application virtualisation streaming files
system32\BestPractises Webserver powershell and schema
system32\Boot Winload programs and files
system32\Bthprops Bthprop images
system32\CatRoot Contains Security Catalog files (.cat)
system32\CatRoot2 Contains catalog logs
system32\CodeIntegrity Bootcat cache and driver stl files
system32\Com Contains Component Services system files
system32\config Contains Event Viewer logs, registry, sam and other files
system32\Configuration Configuration files (protected)
system32\DDFs Digital Document Filing system xml files
system32\Dism Deployment image servicing and management library files
system32\DiagSvcs Diagnostic Hub library files
system32\Dism Deployment and Image Service and Management
system32\downlevel Contains API library files
system32\drivers Contains driver files (.sys) for hardware devices
system32\DriverState Driver state files
system32\DriverStore Contains driver loc files
system32\DrvStore Contains third party driver files
system32\dsc Contains Dsc core DLLs
system32\en Contains resource DLLs for English language
system32\en-GB Contains MUI files for English (GB) language
system32\F12 Various diagnostic, F12 and other library files
system32\FxsTmp Unknown
system32\GroupPolicy Contains local group policy files
system32\GroupPolicyUsers Unknown
system32\HealthAttestationClient Program and library files for Health Attestation Client agent
system32\Hydrogen Various Animation, Fx and Physics files
system32\ias Contains database files (protected)
system32\icsxml Contains xml files
system32\IME Contains some Input Method Editor DLLs
system32\inetsrv Contains Internet Information Services (IIS) files
system32\InputMethod Contains IME program and DLL files
system32\ipam IP Address Management migtable files
system32\lpmi Unknown
system32\Keywords Various table data files
system32\Licenses Microsoft Software License Agreement (RTF)
system32\LifecamTrueColor Lifecam library files
system32\Logfiles Various log files
system32\lxss Nvidea library (so) files
system32\MailContactsCalendarSync Text file of domains for Mail, contacts, calendar sync
system32\Microsoft Contains crypto RSA and recovery data files
system32\migration Contains Migration DLL files
system32\migwiz Migration wizard program and files
system32\MRT Unknow
system32\MSDRM Microsoft digital rights management files
system32\Msdtc Contains various system files for MS Distributed Transaction Co-ordinator
system32\MUI Contains system files for HTML help (multilingual user interface)
system32\NDF Contains event log (network diagnostics)
system32\networklist Network icons (protected)
system32\npcap Network capture programs
system32\nui Contains Face Anaylsis Color file
system32\oobe Contains Microsoft Out of Box Experience files
system32\OpenSSH Secure shell and ftp programs
system32\Pbr Cotnains Pbr Action files Plugins.xml for Windows Licence Protection
system32\PerceptionSimulation Perception Simulation program files
system32\PointOfSevice POS protocol provider libraries
system32\Printing_Admin_Scripts Printing VBS scripts
system32\ProximityToast Unknown
system32\ras Contains Remote Access Service files
system32\RasToast Unknown
system32\Recovery ReAgent XML files
system32\Restore Contains System Restore MachineGuid.txt file
system32\SecureBootUpdates Update bin files for Secure Boot
system32\ServerManagerInternal Server Manager powershell modules
system32\SecurityHealth Contains optional files for Security Health
system32\Setup Contains various setup DLL files
system32\sgrm Sgrm assertions files
system32\ShellExperiences Windows Shell library files
system32\SleepStudy Sleep study files
system32\slmgr Contains system licensing INI files
system32\SMI Various files
system32\Speech Contains speech DLL files
system32\Speech_OneCore Speech onecore library files
system32\spool Contains printer files
system32\spp Software Protection files
system32\sppui Country phone numbers INF file
system32\sru SRU database files
system32\Sysprep System preperation program and files
system32\SystemResetPlatform Windows system reset platform program and files
system32\Tasks Contains list of Scheduled Tasks (protected)
system32\Tasks_Migrated Tasks files
system32\UNP Update notification program files
system32\Wat Unknown
system32\wbem Contains Performance,Logs, WMI and system files for Web Based Enterprise Management.
system32\WCN Unknown
system32\WDI Windows diagnostic files and logs
system32\WebThreatDefSvc Web threat definition files (protected)
system32\WinBioDatabase Unknown
system32\WinBioPlugins WinBio sensor DLLs
system32\WindowsDevicePortal Windows Device Portal files
system32\WindowsPowershell Powershell programs and files
system32\winevt Various event log files
system32\WinMetadata Contains WINMD files
system32\winrm Windows Remote Management INI file
SystemApps Various files for system apps
SystemResources Various XAML and other files for Windows resources
SystemTemp System temporary files
SysWOW64 System Windows on Windows 64. Allows 32-bit programs to run on a 64-bit OS. (See System32 for subfolders)
TAPI Unknown
Tasks Third party scheduled tasks
Temp Contains temporary files
TextInput Text input app files
tracing Unknown
twain_32 Contains camera and scanner twain DS files
twain_64 Contains camera and scanner twain DS files e.g. vuescan
UUS Unlocked update stack files.
Vss Virtual Snapshot Service applications and XML files
Waas Windows update registry keys and services xml files.
Web Contains picture files
WebManagement Microsoft Edge dev tools files
WinSxS Contains Windows Side by Side system files
WUModels Windows update files (Protected)

Contents of Programs folder