There are a number of sub $200 Windows 10 laptops with only a 32 GB SSD hard drive, like Lenovo 100s, HP Stream 13, etc...

Given that the Windows directory itself is over 32GB on my regular laptop, how do these laptops even function? Is there space to store anything? Wouldn't I have an out of hard drive space problem very soon?

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    Post Windows 8.1 support bootable .wim images, which means, it can be a reduced foot print
    – Ramhound
    Commented Dec 9, 2015 at 20:44
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    What do you mean, as little as? That's over 20 times what Windows 95 required! Get off my lawn! Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 5:39
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    Are you sure your Windows directory actually is 32GB? On disk? What Explorer tells you - based on summing the file sizes of all the files in the directory - gives incorrect results when you have simlinks and whatnot, which is why everyone thinks the WinSXS folder is bigger than it actually is. See technet.microsoft.com/en-au/library/dn251566.aspx
    – piers7
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 6:49
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    @user20574 20 times? IIRC, Win95 was about 50 megabytes. More like 600 times.
    – oals
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 8:44
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    Windows 3.1 used about 10 MB of disk space. Windows 10 is a better operating system but probably not 30000 times better :-) Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 11:49

7 Answers 7


Windows 10 uses CompactOS, which compresses Windows files, to make them smaller:

Compact OS Compact OS installs the operating system files as compressed files. Compact OS is supported on both UEFI-based and BIOS-based devices. Unlike WIMBoot, because the files are no longer combined into a single WIM file, Windows update can replace or remove individual files as needed to help maintain the drive footprint size over time.

This can be done automatically by the Windows setup or by manually applying an Image :

DISM.EXE /Apply-Image /ImageFile:INSTALL.WIM /Index:1 /ApplyDir:C:\ /Compact:ON

or in a running Windows via this command:

COMPACT.EXE /CompactOS:always
  • It will probably have a lower performance to load files, but since these are machines with SSD, it will be still better than with uncompacted in HD.
    – Zanon
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 21:28
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    @Zanon Yet these are also machines with the slowest processors still on the market, and decompression is done by the CPU. Also, these devices usually use slower eMMC instead of SSD. So performance will in some cases be considerably worse than HDD devices. Source: I owned one of these devices.
    – Peter
    Commented Dec 11, 2015 at 13:44
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    Use compact.exe /compactos:query in a cmd window to check if your system is in compact mode or not
    – nixda
    Commented Dec 11, 2015 at 22:01
  • Unfortunately switching on CompactOS mode recovered only less than a GB in the end with my mother's HP Stream 11.
    – icelava
    Commented Jun 1, 2018 at 5:25
  • @icelava Use TreeSizeFree to find hidden data junk. Microsoft is awre of issues and it looks like they try to build a special edition for such low end devices. Commented Jun 1, 2018 at 14:02

I'm not sure what you have on your laptop but a clean Win 7 install is usually about 12GB's and Windows 10 is spec'd at 16GB's for 32 bit and 20GB's for 64 bit. All that extra on yours might be bloatware from the manufacturer. The 10 GB or so left after the Win 10 install is plenty for a 'netbook', if you want to call it, that will surf the web and word process. There are so many cloud saving options out there it is less important for data to be stored locally.


Also, I would bet that these will have the Home edition and maybe a Home Starter edition like older Win 7 cheapies that won't even let you change the backround. Very small footprint on those.

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    The Windows directory on my (Win7) machine is 26GB, and I'm certain I don't have any "manufacturer bloatware". I assume the extra is from updates and stuff (or maybe it's counting /winsxs?) Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 5:14
  • @BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft I don't use Windows 10, but in earlier versions, the "rollback" feature (which is enabled by default) could accumulate enormous amounts of data. Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 5:17
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    @BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft You are correct, it is update, here is a good comparison arstechnica.com/gadgets/2015/07/… Win 7 with all updates can push 33GB on disk
    – Cand3r
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 13:17
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    @BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft If you run Disk Cleanup as Administrator, you can see how much space the uninstallers for various Windows updates are consuming (and remove them if you want).
    – jamesdlin
    Commented Dec 11, 2015 at 22:51
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    @BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft How do you measure the disk footprint? Explorer doesn't take all those hardlinks and virtualized folders into account, so it massively overreports the disk usage (it might very well be that your OS directory only takes ~16 GiB). Updates do take a lot of space (you can remove them with Disk Clean-up), as well as other installers (Windows preserves installers to allow Remove/Repair). .NET also takes quite a bit if you're a developer - in my case, over 4 GiB.
    – Luaan
    Commented Dec 12, 2015 at 10:47

Many of the Windows 8.1 devices have moved to "WIMBoot". This runs the PC from a compressed Windows image file. https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn594399.aspx

Windows image file boot (WIMBoot) lets you set up a PC so that it runs directly from a compressed Windows image file (WIM file). WIMBoot can significantly reduce the amount of space used by Windows files. This helps you provide more free space to users, and helps you manufacture Windows on PCs with smaller drives.

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    @bwDraco no, not correct, because WIMBoot is removed in Windows 10 because it caused setup install failures. It uses CompactOS, see my answer Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 5:37
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    The linked article specifically states: Applies To: Windows 8.1. While not conclusive evidence, as the article hasn't been updated for a year, Microsoft is pretty good about revisiting older articles and updating them if they apply to more recent versions of a product, so this can at the very least be seen as indicative.
    – user
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 10:24

Windows 10 uses compress boot which free's up 2-3GB. Windows 10 install using compress boot will only take up 7-9GB. Also there is no longer a need to make a separate partition for the recovery image which will free up an additional 4GB.


I've just done a clean install of Windows 10 and Office 365 on a 32GB HP Stream 7 and it's taking 13.9GB including about 400MB of my OneDrive files. It also supports a 32GB SD card (rumour has it that 64GB also works) which on Windows 10 can be used for personal folders and applications.

I've not forced the OS to compact using the procedure described here

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    When I got HP Stream with 32GB eMMC, Windows 10 64bit preinstalled. It had 13 GB free first. I uninstalled some HP stuff I decied not to use. I created two more users (one with existing Microsoft account). Then the computer decided to update. Now I'm down to 1GB and I'm thinking how to get out of this. There are no big games, no big applications, nothing. I consider: 1) removing all the users and leaving only admin there (e.g. browser caches always explode quickly, better have it for a single user), 2) compact, 3) switching to Linux.
    – virgo47
    Commented Jun 5, 2017 at 7:44
  • @virgo47 same here. No apps, after 1 update there is insufficient free space for the next update. Commented Mar 25, 2018 at 0:01
  • @hoosierEE The computer didn't boot the next day, and all ways to self-repair it failed. That update demaged HP repair partition, for other repair paths it wanted me to boot the system (which wasn't possible). There is Linux now, I'm not totally happy with any desktop environments I tried, but at least it works. :-)
    – virgo47
    Commented Mar 26, 2018 at 6:22
  • Heh, "at least it works" would be nice brutally honest tag line for Linux. Commented Mar 27, 2018 at 12:05

In addition to the existing answers, a clean OS install of Windows 10 is somewhere around 10 GB, depending on what exactly is installed. I did even manage to get it down to 7 GB once. This will grow over time as patches are applied, browsers build up huge caches on disks, and logs grow. When space gets scarce, Windows will do some cleanup on its own, and let the user know to run Disk Cleanup (right click on the drive->Properties).

If you run Disk Cleanup, and also click "Clean up system files", then check all the boxes, your Windows folder will become considerably smaller than 32 GB.

Additionally, any program you install stores a footprint directly in the Windows Directory, in folders like Windows/Installer, or Windows/InfusedApps/Packages.


I can say with authority that Windows 10 runs well with a 32 GB SSD, since i've created a couple of virtual machines having exactly that amount of space and 1.2 GB of RAM, running also a SQL Server 2012 with no problem.

Aditionally, Microsoft guarantees Windows 10 good performance having at least 20 GB of hard disk space:


Nevertheless, I encourage you to install just the basic application for daily tasks, and trying to use as many web applications as you can since space would be limited :)

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