No more recovery partitions in Windows 10 and other storage gains

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 17, 2015
Updated • Jul 5, 2017
Windows, Windows 10

When I check the storage space that Windows uses on the two computer systems I run it on, I notice that it occupies 43.4 Gigabyte on a Windows 7 64-bit Pro system and 15 Gigabyte on a secondary system using Windows 10. That's only the Windows folders though and does not include recovery partitions, data in the user or programs folder.

You can use a freeware like TreeSize Free to display the size of the Windows folder on your system.

The Windows 7 PC is the older PC and the main system that I use which explains the storage size discrepancy at least partially.

Microsoft plans to improve the overall storage requirement of its upcoming operating system Windows 10 for systems running it.

The company revealed two enhancements coming to Windows 10 in this regard in a blog post on the official Blogging Windows blog.

windows folder size

The first improvement comes only to some systems. Windows takes into account several factors, such as the amount of memory and the cpu to determine whether data can be compressed to free up storage space without affecting the system's performance in a negative way.

If that is the case, Windows 10 will be compressed automatically to free up storage space. According to Microsoft, doing this saves 1.5 Gigabyte of storage on 32-bit systems and 2.6 Gigabyte of storage on 64-bit systems.

Applications that users install on the system are compressed as well if the system passes Microsoft's requirements in this regard.

Probably more interesting than that is the removal of the separate recovery partition. This recovery partition has a size between 4 and 12 Gigabyte usually according to Microsoft depending on make and model.

This will be applied to upgrade systems as well as new machines that ship when the operating system is available later this year.

Microsoft notes that "without a separate recover image, the Refresh and Reset functionalities will instead rebuild the operating system in place using runtime system files".

The core benefit of this approach is the gain in storage space but there is another benefit: updates don't need to be applied again after the operation.

Windows 10 ships with options to create separate recovery images to recover a system from severe corruption. It appears that Microsoft's runtime solution may not be able to recover severe damages to the system.

Users of the operating system can create recovery media which acts as a last resort if reset or refresh operations don't complete successfully.

It is unclear at this point in time if Microsoft will make the creation of recovery media mandatory but it is unlikely that this is going to happen.

The two enhancements save several Gigabyte when they are both applied to a system. While that may not make a huge difference on systems with plenty of space, it will make a difference on low-storage space systems.

It remains to be seen how this works out in the end. Information about extra battery drain due to compression and the percentage of refresh and reset failures would be interesting in this regard.

Now You: How big is your Windows folder?

No more recovery partitions in Windows 10 and other storage gains
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No more recovery partitions in Windows 10 and other storage gains
Microsoft announced that it will do away with recovery partitions in its upcoming operating system Windows 10 to free up storage space for user data.
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  1. pfffft said on March 11, 2016 at 1:06 am

    A completely useless feature designed to mitigate Microsofts lack of craftsmanship. Why fix the dam when they can just wrap it in plaster and duct tape.

  2. Sandesh said on July 27, 2015 at 11:25 am

    YES! see this is the reason why microsoft rulz!

  3. LogicDaemon said on March 20, 2015 at 4:24 pm

    Lel, if they remove recovery, manufacturers will have to go back to their “in-house” solutions, like Lenovo OneKeyRecovery, ASUS Recovery AI, etc. Nothing good here. Unless Microsoft, using “licensee powah”, will forbid manufacturers from doing so, which is even worse.

    And in latter case, I will have to create system partition images instead of recovery DVDs / recovery flash disk images (which are a lot more handy).

  4. PhoneyVirus said on March 18, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    Guest they want it lite for those Tablets and people that never use no more than 30GB’s of data, or for the people that thinks it’s okay to have 50GB’s of pictures on their laptop, yeah those days are just about over for now.

    My %windir% is reporting with WinDirStat 19.1GB’s of data.

    Additional Software

    Thanks for the Preview Martin

  5. Boris said on March 17, 2015 at 9:45 pm

    Saving or dedicated restore partition is a horrible idea. How Windows 10 is going to do complete Restore or Refresh? Or they do not expect computers to last too long. Much like smartphones.

  6. xp4ever said on March 17, 2015 at 5:52 pm

    My windows folder atm is 2,05GB, with xp64, Microsoft is never getting that spec ever again,
    nor are most linuxes these days..

  7. Oxa said on March 17, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    With the size of hard drives that come with computers these days, it’s hard to see the benefit of saving a gigabyte here and a gigabyte there. This seems to be useful only if you have a smaller SSD.

  8. Leandro said on March 17, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    WinDirStat is the boss:

  9. Straspey said on March 17, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    Thanks very much for clearing that up Martin.

    I realize some people don’t like it, and even turn it off completely – but over the years, I have been able to get out of a few nasty situations via the System Restore function, and still consider it to be one of the more valuable tools available on a Windows system.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on March 17, 2015 at 2:27 pm

      System Restore can definitely be handy at times. I do reduce how much space it can use though on systems as it is a lot by default.

  10. Glynn Brooks said on March 17, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    Running Windows 8.1 x64, my Windows folder is 31.7 GB.
    136,353 files, 29,332 folders

    1. RossN said on March 17, 2015 at 8:16 pm

      31.7GB, really? My Windows folder (8.1 x64) is 14.7GB

      1. Boris said on March 17, 2015 at 9:40 pm

        He probably never cleaned large used update files and they take ton of space. Mine is 21.5GB (Win 8.1 x64). 155,408 Files, 25,729 Folders

  11. Straspey said on March 17, 2015 at 1:33 pm

    I’m unclear about one thing here:

    Does this mean that Microsoft will eliminate the System Restore function and the creation (or ability to manually create) System Restore points ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on March 17, 2015 at 1:57 pm

      No that is unrelated from that.

  12. Pants said on March 17, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    Win7 64bit (main machine) .. 19.7Gb .. installed 3.5yrs ago – still runs as smooth as baby oil. Only software installed besides windows updates is MS Office, VMWare, Photoshop, Skyrim and about a dozen minor items [the other 250+ programs are portable on a secondary drive]

    I remember waaaay back when I used to get my 95 or 98SE install down to ridiculous sizes .. from memory 95 I think was 25mb and 98SE was well something like 100mb, XP was about 1Gb – custom installs, none of those games or extras, I’d even strip out the screensavers and wallpapers etc.

  13. Tom said on March 17, 2015 at 11:53 am

    Does this really worth that lot of work and possible mess that “rebuild the operating system in place using runtime system files” can cause? Just think about damaged or infected system files. Wouldn’t be better to have a separate slower, cheap storage for the recovery image? Really, these kind of hardware require very very small amount of space these days, can even be embedded into other vital parts of mobile devices…
    I mean, most times, resurce opimizations are always welcome and are, actually, rarely happen these days but this one just looks the wrong fix for the problem.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on March 17, 2015 at 1:12 pm

      You still have options to create recovery media in this case.

  14. eRIZ said on March 17, 2015 at 11:21 am

    I’d be better if they fix up the mess caused by WinSxS. It – theoretically – should be automatically cleaned but I haven’t ever noticed it happend…

    1. Anonymous said on March 17, 2015 at 2:38 pm

      winSxS doesn’t report the real sizes and makes use of links.

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on March 17, 2015 at 1:29 pm

      I’d prefer they do something about the install folder.

  15. dexter86 said on March 17, 2015 at 10:20 am

    Why they didn’t use WIMBoot that they introduced in 8.1 Update 1

    1. anon said on March 18, 2015 at 12:58 am

      But they are using WIMBoot.

  16. Dwight Stegall said on March 17, 2015 at 10:12 am

    Restore points for me kind of worked most of the time in Windows Vista. But since then it always had some lame excuse why it wouldn’t work. It would say my antivirus was blocking it even though I had uninstalled the antivirus before trying to restore it. Goodbye, good riddance! But I hope they got something else. We’d be screwed without anyway to do that.

    I don’t want to live without partitions though. I need at least one to put my personal files on so drive c has less to keep track of.

  17. RossN said on March 17, 2015 at 8:37 am

    It will be nice to save a few GB.
    An even better enhancement, would be the ability to use ‘Junction Link Magic’ or similar to move large chunks of Windows from my small (49GB) C: drive to my D: drive. Does anyone know if this is possible or reliable? Then I might have room to upgrade from Windows 8 to 8.1 or 10 without buying a new larger SSD.

    1. Anonymous said on March 17, 2015 at 2:37 pm

      Yes but you’ll have to cheat and make use of some sysinternal tools.

      Mind tough that Windows probably will work without any problem but an upgrade won’t work.
      But if you would do an OS version upgrade from 8 to 10 then I *think* you can delete the installer folder.
      The installer folder keeps track of all patches and uninstall information. This seems totally useless when you would do the upgrade that you can’t roll back.

      Also delete/move the media and wallpaper/theme folders

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