Windows 10 reduces storage footprint and speeds up recovery

Windows 10 installation will use less storage space and Microsoft is resigning how the Refresh and Reset features to do away without a separate recovery image.

Windows 10 logo blue

Microsoft is making significant changes to reduce the space utilized by a Windows 10 installation and improving recovery, which means that the upcoming version of Windows isn’t just about bringing transparency to the Start menu and adding cosmetic changes, it’s about a lot more.

In a new Windows Blog article, Microsoft details the advances on storage requirements for Windows 10.

The software giant reveals that the latest preview build already includes the technique of file compression to give back some of the storage to users. Using the new technique, the software maker has managed to reduce the Windows 10 footprint up to 1.5GB on a 32-bit and 2.6GB on a 64-bit configuration. The company also said that the style of file compression will arrive in the future to Windows 10 for phones.

Windows 10 storage footprint analysis

Also, to ensure file compression does not slow down the computer, Windows will consider a number of factors to detect whether should use compression or not.

Two of the factors that will determine the use of file compression is the amount of RAM and processor, as these two components are key to measure how fast the decompression works without affecting system responsiveness. This means that not every Windows 10 device will be able to use this new feature.

More importantly, if you ever need to reinstall the operating system, Windows 10 will be able to recover using the runtime system files that are currently stored in your computer. 

Also, Windows 10 won’t require a separate recovery image, as Microsoft is redesigning how Refresh and Reset functionalities work. Instead of using a separate recovery image, which usually take up valuable space (anywhere from 4GB to 12GB), the Windows 10 recovery feature will use the files already in place. So, say goodbye to the “Insert Media: some files are missing” message Windows 8 users get almost every time they need to reset or refresh their PCs.

Even more impressive, you’ll be able to create your own recovery disk, in case of a more catastrophic accident that physically damage the hard drive.

With Windows 8.1, Microsoft introduced a similar solution called Windows Image Boot (WIMBOOT), but it required a specially designed image and different installation process, and only selected Windows 8.1 devices with low system storage were able to take advantage of WINBOOT.

The new solution in Windows 10 uses a version of WIMBOOT, but now it will expand virtually to every device running Windows 10, with the limitation of a few devices that won’t be able to upgrade just because their storage capacity is too limited, but Microsoft is working on a fix. The company explains that this happens because devices have to be able to roll back Windows 8.1 in case something goes wrong during the upgrade.

Microsoft also says that the new solution will even keep all those Windows updates, so users won’t have to spend additional time after reinstalling the operating system downloading hundreds of Gigabytes worth of updates.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 14 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 20 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and Email him at [email protected].