Purpose and Utility
For those who want to keep the Windows 7 System Partition to a minimum (possibly for wanting to conserve and/or use as little hard drive space) keeping Windows 7 system size to less than 19gb (which I have accomplished with, mind you, over 85gb of data media files (docs, photos, video media) (and much more located on internal alternate partitions and an external hard drive), and over 60gb of applications all located on internal hard drive used by the system, but windows works perfectly fine with less than 19gb (18.6gb precisely) and is completely doable with a few space-saving tweaks. I also experience very few “cramped space” issues.
How to Do it
There are many tricks to cut down on system software size, but here is the concise, condensed list that comprises the most helpful and valuable. Basically, this works by utilizing disk cleanup, program files on separate partition, hiberfil.sys deleted, TEMP and TMP relocated, shrinking the recycle bin size, and the user folder relocated to a separate partition.
Get TEMP and TMP off the system partition
The temporary files are used by some programs for (obviously enough) writing data temporarily to the hard drive. Often after a reboot or after the temporary-data-writing program quits, that data is deleted, but nevertheless, the TEMP and TMP folders can balloon in size, shrinking available space on the system partition. Relocating them helps keep the system size to a minimum.
1. Right click on “My Computer” and select “Properties” (this is identical to going to ControlPanel>System).
2. Click on “Advanced System Settings”.
3. Click “Environmental Variables…” (this 1-2-3 should really be called something as it’s the steps necessary to make many advanced system customization changes)!
4. Now simply under “User variables for your_username”, changne the value of the variables TEMP and TMP to a partition (and likely, although this is choosing, but it is recommended for tidyness) and folder of those temp files. If certain programs write a lot to those it will not effect yoru system partition anymore! Excellent! Yippee!
Move the user folder(s) off the system partition
To relocate the individual user folders (like My Documents, for example) this link is helpful. To relocate the entire user folder (C:\Users\this_folder), read on.
- Log into a different user account that has administrator privileges (if another user account doesn’t exist other than the one you’re moving, simply create a new user account).
- Navigate to and select the user account (typically C:\users\username) you want to move.
- Right click that fold and select “Copy”.
- Navigate to the new location (ideally on a separate partition or drive), right click, and select “Paste”. That’s it! Extremely simple. And impressive that windows allows such customizations to be made. gnu/linux/ubuntu offers all kinds of these customizations, but Mac OS is usually intolerably locked down, so as usual, windows and gnu/linux ftw.
- Now all that is needed to notify the registry of the changed user folder (even thought technically it is already “moved”). Do so, by typing “regedit” in start window.
- Next, navigate to the following path: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList.
- There you will see a bunch of folders starting with (typically) “S-1-5-xxx”, an example of one is S-1-5-21-1608073312-4083020880-3568495165-1000. Click on one (typically one toward the bottom) until under the ProfileImagePath “Name” field, you see under the “Data” field the “C:\Users\username_to_move” username folder that you just copy pasted and that you want to formally move.
- Right click on that value, click modify and under the the “Value Data” field update that old file path to the new one (changing C:\Users\username_oldlocation to DriveLetter:\username_newlocation).
- Finally to verify a complete and successful move, log out of the temp account, log into the account that was moved, right click on any of the folders in the recently-moved user-folder (like Desktop or Documents or whatever), select Properties and examine the “Location” field. If it shows the location where the folder has just been relocated to, this process is complete!
Additionally, a small bit of house-keeping is to delete the old username folder. Do so by logging out, login under the alternate user account, and navigate to the old location, right click on the old location folder and select “Delete”. Now, completely, all old remnants deleted, new user folder location instantiated.
Shrink the Recycle Bin Maximum Size
This one can be very effective and simple. Obviously, if you always empty the recycle bin after deleting something, this will make little or no difference, but it prevents large recycle bin sizes from accumulating. This is essential for having a compact system.
- Simply right click on “Recylce Bin”j.
- Click “Properties”.
- Under the “Settings for selected location “Custom Size” enter a small value in the Maximum size (MB)” field.
Alternatively, selected the “Remove files immediately when deleted” option ensures that Recycle bin never takes up any space (but files are immediately deleted)! Note, with a shrunken Recycle Bin size, it will be likely that more files you delete will not fit in the recycle bin and thus will be deleted immediately, anyway.
Run Disk Cleanup
This one is self-explanatory and fairly obvious. Simply go to the start menu, type “disk cleanup”, fire up that program, and select anything that is taking up a lot of space and/or you don’t mind deleting.
Uninstall unnecessary programs
Again, to have this properly set up, all your programs should NOT be stored in C:\”Program Files”. Instead, they should be set to install on a separate partition upon installation of each individual program. However, by going to start menu, typing “uninstall a program”, you’re taken to a very useful control panel where you can right click on any program and uninstall it. IF all your programs are on a separate partition, as they should be, then this may make little difference, but it’s still good house-keeping to delete unused programs.
Disable Hibernate and Delete hiberfil.sys
This one is often a HUGE space increase because the C:\hyperfil.sys file usually is equal to your ram size (stored on HD). It’s kind of like linux swap (and prob a separate swap partition should be utilized for it I think, which could be a design flaw in Windows). But nevertheless, running the following code disables the ability for “Allow hybrid sleep” to even occur. Without the computer ever going into hybrid sleep, the hiberfil.sys file (again which is usually, appropriately, the size of physical ram) is unnecessary!
- So go to start menu, type cmd.
- Right click on cmd and Run as Administrator
powerfg -h offand hit Rerturn/Enter.
I love it when succinct code accomplishes a lot and the above code does just that. That command (with the two arguments -h and off) disables the hibernate option and deletes hiberfil.sys, likely freeing up quite a bit of hard drive space on the partition where system is located!
Install all programs on the applications partition. If a program doesn’t let you choose where you want to install it (a preposterous concept), simply do NOT install that program. Only install programs where you decide precisely the install location.
By the way there are other tutorials that detail (20 ways) methods to save space, but some of them make negligible difference and this article focused on the significant ones that free up the most space.