Step-by-Step Guide to Reducing Windows 10 On-Disk Footprint

It is true that Windows 10 has a relatively small footprint when compared to the older versions of Windows. Even so, if what you have is a Windows laptop or tablet with a low amount of storage, even a small amount of savings matters.

Consider the fact that a fresh install for Windows 10 takes up storage space of about 15 GB. Most of this 15 GB is composed of reserved and system files, whereas a space of 1 GB is taken up by the default games and apps that come pre-shipped with Windows 10. While that may not seem like a lot, when using a low-end laptop with 32 GB or 64 GB memory, this represents a significant amount of storage space for the OS.

Windows 10’s footprint can be reduced by various means, including disabling hibernation, uninstalling the default apps and adjusting the virtual memory settings. All of these settings can be used for the previous versions of Windows, apart from uninstalling the apps that come installed by default with Windows 10.

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How to uninstall the default apps that come with Windows 10

The apps that come installed with Windows 10 do not really take up much space. However, even this storage adds up and causes the Start menu to clutter up. The apps that are not needed can be uninstalled. These are the steps to uninstall the default apps.

  1. Open Settings from the Start Menu
  2. Click on System
  3. Now click on storage and subsequently, select the C drive
  4. Now choose and click the option for Apps and Features
  5. Now click on any app and then click the Uninstall button to have the app uninstalled
  6. Some of the apps, such as Mail and Calendar, Xbox, Groove Music, and Maps cannot be uninstalled from here. These have to be uninstalled using PowerShell commands.

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Turn Off Hibernation
What happens during hibernation is that Windows saves the current state of your computer in terms of the executing programs and open documents to the storage drive so that you can resume the work when you switch on the computer. If you do not use hibernation mode, the mode can be disabled and the hiberfil.sys file can be deleted. This can be quite useful because the hiberfil.sys file takes up several gigs of storage space.

  • The first step is to open a command prompt in Administrator Mode by doing a right-click on the Start button in Windows and subsequently choosing the option for the Command prompt.
  • If the User Account Control raises a question on whether the Command prompt should be opened, click Yes.
  • Type in the command powercfg with the specifiers as -h and off.

These steps ensure that the hiberfil.sys file on your computer is deleted. It will also remove your option used to put your system into hibernation. You still have the ability to place your computer in sleep mode, which gives you the ability to save the state of your computer into memory instead of on the hard drive. This maintains your computer in a power-on state but which is, however, low power.

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Change the Size of Virtual Memory

The basic concept of virtual memory is that if your computer has physical memory that is insufficient to execute an operation or run a program, Windows will execute data moves temporarily to a paging file present on the hard disk from RAM memory. These are the necessary steps.

  1. Open the Control Panel by searching for the item on the Start menu
  2. Click on System and Security
  3. Then click on System
  4. Now, click on Advanced System Settings from the left menu
  5. Go into the Advanced tab and click on the button called Settings from within the Performance section
  6. Now, go into the Advanced tab and click on the Change button from within the Virtual memory section
  7. Now, uncheck the box next to the option for “Automatically manage paging file size for all drives”
  8. Select the option for Custom size. Then enter the maximum and initial sizes that you desire to be limits for the file’s growth. Now hit Set, followed by OK to finish.

As an alternative, you may select the option for “no paging file” or instead leave it to the system to manage file size. For reasons related to performance, you should always use a paging file.
These steps can help you free up to a few gigabytes of space on your hard drive by limiting the amount of space that is taken up by Windows on your computer.

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Unlike previous versions, Windows 10 does not require or use a recovery image. Simply by eliminating the system’s recovery image, users can get up to 4 GB of storage back. The way Windows 10 is implemented, the OS uses the files present in the system already. To be more specific, the files can be found in the winsxs subfolder inside the Windows folder.
Having said that, there is indeed one more additional component in the form of a compression mechanism known as Compact OS. The way this tool works is that it takes the Windows 10 files and places them into a hidden container where they are actually compressed. This helps to reduce the amount of space required. This method is an exact replacement for WIMBoot, which came in as a part of Windows 8.1. Compact OS is a lot easier to both configure and deploy. This is how to run Compact OS:

  • Given the fact that Compact OS is a command line-based tool, you are required to invoke the Start Menu, do a search for Command Prompt, do a right click and invoke the option for Run as Administrator.
  • Then, type COMPACT.EXE with the CompactOS always option and hit Enter.

This tool will start the operation of the process, which will take between 10 and 20 minutes. What is even better is that we do not even need to restart the computer.

Author: Rahul Sharma