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This question is about what things I can do to reduce the size that Windows 8 uses.

Background example:
At present, and with only one program installed (MS Access 2007), I have used about 15GB of my hard disk space. I have little space (it's a 17GB partition of a SSD).

I would like solutions along the lines of:

  • Remove files that are not really needed (e.g. drivers not actually needed by my system)
  • Help files that are not really needed (i.e. documentation)
  • pagefile.sys (assuming I would have 4GB ram and no real need for swapping)
  • hiberfil.sys (used for hibernate and sleep... I need that, though I would regain about 4GB of space by removing it)

Ideally, I would like to delete mostly files that I would most likely not need, but I have no good idea where to start there.

Since my hardware will not change, I would be willing to delete all the drivers that Windows 8 has for hardware I do not have.

Update

A large part of disk space in Windows 8 (and 7) is used up for the "Window backward compatibilty dlls-hell." I'm referring to a feature named "Windows Side by Side" (in folder C:\Windows\winsxs), described at Why does the /winsxs folder grow so large, and can it be made smaller?. By keeping several versions (even when not needed often) of the thousands of DLLs that come with software... well this causes at least some 4-5GB of disk usage.

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Deleting temporary files is good. Though I would like to focus on the less obvious things like unused driver softwae and help files... I have "too much" disk space usage on a clean install, meaning no temporary files I can delete –  humanityANDpeace Nov 4 '12 at 9:06
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I think the pagefile is misunderstood. I wish an expert could clarify things for me, but I remember reading that the pagefile is an essential part of the OS (even though you can disable it) and regardless of how much RAM you have it should be kept on...even if just at the minimum size. –  Louis Nov 4 '12 at 13:53

5 Answers 5

You can use the Disk Cleanup Utility in Windows-8 as also in the previous Windows versions to delete temporary and unwanted files.

Go to Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Disk Cleanup

I'm sure your pagefile.sys and hiberfile.sys would not be affected as you will need to alter them manually if needed.

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I mentioned the pagefile.sys and the hiberfil.sys to provoke some thinking and to share already ways to safe diskspace (when you have enough RAM - maybe4GB - you can dispense of the pagefile.sys). The pagefile.sys can be disabled via Control Panel\System and Security\System and selecting "Advanced System Settings". There one can disable swapping via the Advanced->Performance settings found in this dialoge. If the RAM is enough there will be no noticable effect and about 3-4GB more diskspace –  humanityANDpeace Nov 4 '12 at 9:05

17 GiB is awfully little for Windows 8 (just as for Windows 7 and Vista before it). Part of the reason is that Windows includes everything it could ever install right from the start so you don't need to hunt for the installation DVD just because you decide to install Telnet later on (like it was on XP, only there Telnet was included ... anyway).

This article has some tips on reducing the installation footprint on Windows 7 but most tips should apply to Windows 8 as well. Especially reducing the footprint of drivers you'll need need looks promising:

You can use a nice CodePlex tool called DriverStore Explorer to identify and delete obsolete or duplicate drivers from the Windows 7 C:\Windows\System32\DriverStore\FileRepository directory. This has never failed to deliver less than a 1 GB disk space saving on all of the systems I’ve tried it on, notebook and desktop systems alike. See my blog “Another Nice System Drive Cleanup Maneuver: DriverStore Explorer.”

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funny! :) investigting myself I found the C:\Windows\System32\DriveStore directory and wondering about "if this is a way to save space" I ended up on your answer to my very own posting. Great –  humanityANDpeace Nov 4 '12 at 12:28

Reduce before Install

This works the best but is a bit hard to do. This was how I ran Windows 7 on 8 GB Netbook. I haven't tried to do much of this but these wonderful people seem to have tried to do what you want. They got it down to a pretty tight package. I think there was a discussion on SU here.

Disable System Protection

There are step-by-step instructions here.

  1. Navigate to the control panel by searching for Control Panel
  2. Search for System Protection
  3. Open the System Properties dialog
  4. Navigate to the System Protection tab
  5. Choose the disk that Windows 8 is installed on and press configure
  6. Disable system restore

That will save you a little space. enter image description here

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You can also save space using DISM.exe. For example executing the following in an elevated Windows 8 (8.0) command prompt:

DISM.exe /online /cleanup-image /startcomponentcleanup

This will remove some unneeded files from winSxS. I'm still experimenting with this tool but you can get help by executing the /? flag.

dism /?

If you're a fan of disabling things in Windows like myself, I think you'll need the Windows Update and Windows Modules Installer services running to get the best from DISM.exe.

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I would very much like to test your suggestion, if only I could :) Being -as yourself- a huge "fan of disabling" I ended up disabling Windows itself my linux setup is much leaner. ::: ::: Anyways does DISM is not related to system restore, is it? Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) Do you know what it actually does or how come you run across it? You would not have stopped something for mere guessing, did you? –  humanityANDpeace Nov 13 '13 at 8:19
    
No, there's a quite few examples of this kind of usage (with the /startcomponentcleanup switch) of DISM around such as here: tiny.cc/827h6w I've seen a similar guide here on SE too. I only mentioned the help switches (/?) because it gave me better understanding of the tool and helped me restore my database with the /restorehealth switch as it wasn't working properly at first. DISM was developed for sys admins and offline deployment images I believe, but the /online switch extends to running systems. It's using dism that has broken your install? –  woowaa Nov 13 '13 at 20:46
    
In the end it didn't save me that much space and I used another method to just delete the 3gb restore.tmp in the Winsxs directory. I'm more often using linux myself, and can fit 3+ chunky linux system installs in to the space Winodws takes up on my SSD, even after these tweaks. –  woowaa Nov 13 '13 at 20:50

There are applications such as WinReducer that can reduce the installation size of Windows pre-installation by modifying the .iso file and excluding unwanted functions, languages, drivers, etc. It takes a bit of work to go through the process (as it depends on some other applications) and takes some time to process but it worked when I tried it recently with Windows 8.1 64-bit and used YUMI to put the iso on a USB.

I didn't go too crazy, removed languages and scanner/printer drivers, Modern UI apps and a few more things. First the iso file size didn't seem much smaller than the original but I ended up with a total of 9GB disk use after installation.

It does provide options to reduce it a lot more but it warns that they are experimental or some important functions can break. I'm sure it will be developed or other applications will come along to be better at leaving dependencies of other functions alone when you remove support for a function.

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