Guide to Maximizing Disk Space on your Dell Venue 8 Pro (or other Windows 8.1 system

Discussion in 'Dell' started by BenH, Dec 24, 2013.

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  1. BenH

    BenH Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Guide to Maximizing Disk Space on your Dell Venue 8 Pro (or other Windows 8.1 system)

    Here is a little guide I am compiling to assist in freeing up additional space on your Windows 8.1 tablet.
    I have a DV8P, where these are all tested - but the majority should work with any Windows 8.1 install.

    There are some other good threads out there, like maexchen's Things to do when you get your Tablet (which I borrowed a couple of links from), but I wanted to focus in here specifically on space saving techniques. I may later include performance and/or security tweaks either here, or likely in another thread.

    Most of my tips here are vetted for accuracy - in that using them should not harm your Window's install and, while they may not be considered "best practice", are safe to at least try. In almost all cases, you will be able to revert if they don't work out for you.

    Additionally, saving space is sometimes in opposition to performance. In many cases however the resultant performance loss is theoretical and you may not notice it in day-to-day activities.

    Following most of the steps here can enable you to have 22-23GB+ free on a 32GB tablet from the get go while realizing virtually no performance degradation.

    Before you do anything, you may want to consider making a full backup of your system however. I recommend following my guide here:
    Step-By-Step Guide To Creating A Factory Backup Image For The Dell Venue 8 Pro
    If you follow the backup procedure above you will be able to re-install your system in any situation (barring hardware failure).

    So - onto the space saving techniques....!

    (NOTE: My tablet is a 32GB one - so most of my references will be in regards to the 32GB tablet. All of these tips will work on other disk sizes however.)

    Initial Space Saving Techniques

    This section details steps you can take to initially free up space on your install. The following section will deal with ongoing maintenance.

    Wipe and Install Windows Fresh

    One of the biggest things you can do to save space is wipe out your system entirely and perform a fresh windows install. A fresh Windows 8.1 install will leave just shy of 20GB free on your drive.
    Reinstalling Windows is a little bit of an ordeal, but can be easily done. You can follow my guide here:

    Alternate Step-by-step Guide to installing Windows 8.1 on the Dell Venue 8 Pro

    (Don't forget to backup your system first!)

    PROS: Free up several GB of space, better control of what's installed
    CONS: A little effort, requires a non OEM version of windows (+Product Key)

    Create a Custom Streamlined Windows

    This option goes hand-in-hand with the above. Instead of installing the "stock" Windows install, you can use a program like WinReducer 8.1 to create a Windows install image minus the pieces you don't want. I wouldn't recommend this option for the non-technically inclined. While it does make the process pretty easy, removing the wrong components from Windows may cause it to function strangely, or not function at all.

    Personally, I haven't used these programs, as I don't feel you can gain significant space unless you start removing questionable pieces.

    PROS: Possible space saving (300MB - 1GB+ ???)
    CONS: Time consuming to build a stable image and save a significant amount of space

    Delete the Recovery Partition

    If you don't want to do a custom Windows install you can, at the very least, remove the recovery partition. This frees up about 5G of space and is probably the single biggest space saver you can perform.

    You will need to use the command line tool diskpart to remove the partition, and then use Disk Management to extend the drive into the freed space.
    This blog post has a decent tutorial.

    Please be sure to have a backup first. Most recommendations say to make a copy of the recovery partition to a USD drive. While this works, it is not a complete backup of the whole drive (though will be enough to re-install Windows in most cases. As always, I recommend that you do a full backup using my above guide.

    PROS: Frees up ~5GB of space
    CONS: Possibly slightly longer recovery process if needed, otherwise, none if you have a good backup

    Reduce the Size of the Hibernation File

    There have been some posts/recommendations to disable hibernation completely. Windows 8 "Fast Boot" is dependent on hibernation being enabled. Additionally, hibernation is just a convenient thing to have working.
    What you can do however is reduce the size of the Hibernation file. By default, it takes up disk space equivalent to 75% of RAM, but this can be changed to 50%.

    From a command prompt type:

    powercfg /h size 50

    PROS: Will free up ~500MB
    CONS: Technically, none. Theoretically, you may have some hibernation problems, in which case you can easily revert

    More info:
    HDG Explains - Swapfile.sys, Hiberfil.sys and Pagefile.sys in Windows 8 - Help Desk Geek
    Reducing the Disk Footprint for Windows 7 Hibernation

    Move the Paging File to microSD

    NOTE - This likely will not work on the DV8P (though may on other tablets). In my tests, though Windows showed the pagefile as setup on the microSD, it didn't actually initialize there and show in the total pagefile allocated amount. Additionally, I got low memory issues because the lack of an active file on the main drive. This may just be my microSD card, but be sure to test this.

    This may be the most controversial recommendation. Many people will recommend not installing "permanent" files onto a removable drive. Additionally, since the speed of the microSD card is slower than the internal eMMC drive, paging file performance might suffer. Realistically (and hopefully), you shouldn't be using the paging file very much - although you may if you keep many apps open or really stress the limits of memory.

    On my device I set the C: to have only a minimum 200MB paging file and set the recommended size on my microSD card. This effectively freed another 1GB on my tablet.

    I recommend that you have a relatively speedy (40+mb/s) microSD card if you want to use this option.

    I would also recommend you do this only when you find you really need the space.

    PROS: Frees up ~1GB of space
    CONS: Performance may suffer slightly when working with many apps. Theoretically, life-span of microSD card may be reduced by many read/write operations.

    Reduce the Size of the Paging File

    If you don't want to move the paging file to the microSD, you can simply reduce its size. What effect this has is really dependent on your usage, but it is possible that you could half the default size and free up at least 500MB.

    Try it, and if you don't see any problems...then you are fine! (yes, that is a technical analysis).

    I wouldn't recommend disabling it completely, or setting it less than about 40-50%

    PROS: Free up ~500MB+
    CONS: System may be starved for resources, depending on your usage

    Install Office to microSD

    This is another one that people may not recommend. However, the performance of Office seems just fine to me on the microSD card.

    Here is one method to do it using symlinks. Personally, I would uninstall office and re-install it directly to your microSD.

    You can simply enter your product key included with your tablet at:
    UPDATE: This method downloads the Click-to-run installer, which cannot be used to install to an alternate drive. This means the only alternative method is to obtain a standard MSI installer for Office.

    PROS: 1.5+ GB Freed
    CONS: Slightly slower opening of Office Apps

    Delete Built-In Metro Apps

    This is another little gem that will free up 3-400MB of space on your Windows 8.1 system. Metro apps have their own special install routine and are stored in the hidden C:\Program Files\WindowsApps directory.
    Even when you don't see them "installed" some default ones are there.

    PROS: Space saver (~350MB)
    CONS: None - you can re-install what you need from Windows Store

    Here is a great tutorial on how to completely remove them.

    Install Metro Apps to microSD card

    WARNING - This may no longer work on Windows 8.1, giving error 0xd00002b8 as the result!

    Now that you have freed up space from the Metro Apps on your main drive, you may wish to install all future apps on your microSD. To do this, you basically need to change the path in the following location:

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Appx\PackageRoot to point to your microSD card location.

    The key's permissions are protected however, so if you don't know how to work with ownership/permissions, you can follow this guide.

    PROS: Ongoing space saving of installed Metro Apps
    CONS: May slow loading times of apps

    Mount your microSD as "Permanent Storage"

    You can store data to your hearts content on your microSD card. Unfortunately some apps (especially system apps), don't like to either install, or save data to it.
    You can get around this by creating a mount-link from your microSD card into an empty folder on your main drive. Then, you will be able to point to this directory on your local drive but, in reality, it will be on your microSD

    Converting an SD Card to Permanent Storage in Windows Devices

    PROS: More storage for apps
    CONS: Possible performance hit

    Relocate SkyDrive and User Folders to microSD

    The most common reason to put a microSD card in is for user data storage. Why then don't we actually redirect all of our folders to actually save their data on this card?

    • Open File Explorer from the Desktop
    • Long click (right-click) on SkyDrive (assuming you have set one up) > Properties
    • Go to the Location tab
    • Change the C:\ to the drive letter for your microSD
    • Click Apply
    • Click Yes to create the folder
    • Click Yes to move content
    • Click OK to close (system may hang for a minute)
    • Optionally, long-click on the SkyDrive folder again and select "Make Available Offline" to download your entire drive to the tablet

    You can now go to "My PC" in File Explorer and do the same thing for your user profile folders:
    Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, and Videos
    I would recommend not doing Desktop since the Desktop should be as responsive as possible (thus keep on your eMMC). Don't forget though, not to store large files on your Desktop!

    PROS: More storage for data
    CONS: Possible performance hit

    Turn Off Windows Updates

    This is likely going to be another controversial suggestion. I mean, Windows Updates fix things, like security holes, application compatibility, performance, etc. But, they also take up a lot of space on the system.
    I fully understand all the implications of not installing updates but, depending on how you use your tablet, not installing updates over the long run may keep multiple GB free on your system.

    What I really recommend is changing the default settings to only notify of you new updates and then you can regularly review what is available and only download what is necessary for you.

    PROS: Ongoing space saving, perhaps in the multiple GBs
    CONS: No Updates may place your machine at risk

    OngoingSpace Saving Techniques

    This section details steps you can take to monitor and reduce your usage. You may want to run them every couple of months, or when you are feeling low on space.

    Decrease the Size of the WinSxS Folder

    The Windows Side-by-Sids (SxS) folder has been the bane of disk space for quite some time. Technically, it shouldn't be removed as files there are needed for the maintenance of Windows.
    If you have been doing Windows Updates regularly, this folder is going to definitely grow over time. Luckily, there are some newer functions in Windows that allows you to clean up this folder:

    Clean Up the WinSxS Folder

    Pay particular attention to the "/StartComponentCleanup /ResetBase" and "/SPSuperseded" parameters.

    Run Built-In Disk Cleanup

    Run the built-in "Disk Cleanup" utility to remove all sorts of stuff you likely don't need.

    Run a 3rd party Cleanup Utility

    The built-in Disk Cleanup gets a lot of stuff, but some 3rd party apps are more thorough in other areas.
    I have always used CCleaner. It is light-weight and powerful.

    Cleanup the Software Distribution Folder

    If you are using Windows Updates, it uses the C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\Download directory as it's staging folder. This folder should be managed by the system, and purge itself regularly.
    Sometimes however, the system leaves files there. Here is how to clean them:

    1. Reboot your system to ensure no current updates are in-process
    2. Open Computer Management
    3. Go to Services and Applications > Services
    4. Stop the Windows Update service
    5. Delete the C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\Download folder
    6. Restart the Windows Update service

    Find Out What Files are Eating your Space

    When your drive starts to get full, you might begin to wonder what is taking up all that space. If you follow the maintenance tasks above, you will likely free up most of the system files that are safe to remove. But, there may be other things (log files, AV definition files, videos, etc.) that you want to find and delete.

    I'm a visual person, which is why I find a visual disk map so useful as it shows you in pretty colors where your big files are. I swap back and forth between these two programs, both are great:


    I can't give you an exhaustive list of what is safe to delete. General rule of thumb is don't delete it if it is in the Windows folder (use the other cleanup methods above).

    Compress your Files

    Windows NTFS volumes have built-in compression that can be enabled on a folder/file basis. There is a lot of debate as to whether compression actually saves space and exactly how it affects performance.

    One argument goes that since you are compressing the data, the CPU has to work harder to both compress and uncompress the data.
    While this is certainly true, modern CPUs are pretty powerful. So on moderately used systems there is often plenty of CPU power to perform this compression.
    Additionally, files are compressed in memory and written to disk in a compressed state. They are then read off the disk in a compressed state and uncompressed in memory.
    What this means is that your disk is doing smaller reads and writes to serve you the data.
    So, while there may be some CPU trade-offs, there are some disk gains.

    Realistically, if you use compression smartly you won't notice any performance degradation for daily tasks. Depending on what you are compressing you can save anywhere from 0 - 80+%. Realistically though, when you compress a drive or folder, expect to see somewhere between 15-30% space savings.

    I wouldn't however recommend compressing your entire drive. Key candidates might be your Program Files folder, any folders where you store a lot of text-based documents, and some key Windows folders.

    Of special note is the C:\Windows\Installer folder (hidden as a system folder by default) that will continue to grow over time.

    Compression is one of those things I wouldn't use until you start getting tight on space. Remember that if you compress your contents, you might not be able to uncompress them all again if you are running too low on space. If this happens, you'll need to copy/remove some date to another location to free enough space to uncompress. This isn't a problem for normal operation, only if you decide to disable compression in the future.

    Compression is set by going to a file/folder properties and selecting the Advanced button and choosing Compress content to save disk space.

    Best practices for NTFS compression in Windows

    Remove (Don't Install) Unnecessary Apps

    This one is a bit of a no-brainier - but you should really consider uninstalling apps that you aren't using. Remember this isn't your PC, and you might not really need every single app that you would install on your desktop.
    This is very subjective though, but I recommend periodically reviewing your installed apps (who knows you might find some AdWare you didn't know was there!).

    Use Win 8.1 (Metro) Apps, Cloud, and Remote Services

    Remember to take advantage of cloud-based storage solutions when you can. Some services keep data only in the Cloud, which is optimal for local space. Others allow you sync locally and tune specifically what you need.

    Also consider using services like Remote Desktop or LogMeIn to access remote computers to either transfer files or use apps on a desktop PC.

    Finally, look for Windows 8.1 (Metro) app alternatives to your legacy applications. Often, these have a smaller footprint then the full blown app and may provide you with all the functionality you need.

    Well, that's the list for now. I look forward to feedback and updating it with your space saving suggestions!
    Last edited by a moderator: May 18, 2015
    Luft, ykvishal, twonth and 1 other person like this.
  2. sayonical

    sayonical Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Add a section on how to move skydrive from the c drive to your sd card as well. You'll save a bunch of space depending on how much content you have.
  3. BenH

    BenH Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Thanks for the input - done. Also described how to relocate all the user profile directories to the sd card too.
  4. Wayne's

    Wayne's Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Regarding moving the WindowsApps to other folders - are you sure that it works on 8.1? I keep getting error code 0xd00002b8 and it looks like others are having the same issue. I had to reinstall Win to install any apps.

    Regarding backups - can you backup and restore to WHS 2011?
  5. BenH

    BenH Pen Pal - Newbie

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    I'll admit - that tweak is about the only one I haven't tried and one of the one's I stole from maexchen's page :).

    I have updated the OP with this warning - thank you.

    I can't answer your backup question other than to say that AFAIK, WHS *can* back up 8.1. I don't run WHS though, so I can't offer any advice.
  6. len

    len Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Good tips, thanks - I am using them to free up some of the 32gb of built in storage my Lenovo Miix 2 has (okay not a venue pro but a very similar animal!). Shame the tip for installing apps to micro sd won't work on windows 8.1 as I can't make full use of my 64gb card, but I have quick queries regarding a couple of the other points mentioned.

    Firstly I thought I'd try office on the sd as I don't use it that much so it probably wouldn't be that much of a sacrifice if it slowed it down a little. However, having downloaded the home and student .exe from Microsoft's website and installed, I didn't see any point in the install where I could alter the install location to the sd - it just installs on the c drive - how did you change it to install to sd?

    Secondly, I would love to get rid of the 6gb hog that is the recovery partition, but I am a little concerned about the potential consequences. I can copy the recovery partition contents to my micro sd, but I am unclear as to whether it will work as expected if I need to restore. In an ideal world, I'd keep everything as it is, i.e. recovery in settings would work as normal, but the recovery image/data itself would be stored on the micro sd (remaining in the tablet if possible - perhaps on a second partition?) rather than taking up c drive space which is needed for apps and to keep everything running at a good speed. Is this possible or if not what's my best option in order to have recovery/restore available if needed without using too much c: space. I am unlikely to have any data that needs preserving on the tablet so all I really need is the ability to get back to a working clean install of windows if the tablet gets slow or anything goes horribly wrong.

    Any help much appreciated!
  7. jnkstuff

    jnkstuff Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Yeah I'm running into this too. Never got an option to pick destination. Anyone got an answer?

  8. Modred189

    Modred189 Scribbler - Standard Member

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    Great list, OP. I'd also be interested in moving the Office install to an SD card. Sub'd to see what shakes out.
  9. repitall

    repitall Pen Pal - Newbie

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    +1 for moving Office to SD Card.
  10. BenH

    BenH Pen Pal - Newbie

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    There's an option either under "Customize" or "Advanced" when you are doing the install in every version of office. If you don't see it, look closer - I guarantee you have the option to choose the drive.
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