Microsoft revealed today that it plans to integrate a feature called reserved storage in Windows 10 version 1903, the next feature update of the operating system.
Windows 10 will set aside some available storage automatically so that it is used exclusively by the operating system.
Through reserved storage, some disk space will be set aside to be used by updates, apps, temporary files, and system caches.
Microsoft wants to improve the reliability of "critical OS functions" that rely on disk space, e.g. updating or caching, by reserving disk space.
Existing devices won't have the reserved storage functionality enabled by default; new Windows 10 version 1903 installations and systems that come pre-installed with that particular version of Windows 10 -- and future versions -- will make use of reserved storage automatically.
Microsoft notes that reserved storage will set aside about 7 Gigabytes of space; not a lot if Windows is installed on a device with lots of free storage but quite a lot if it is on a device with 16 or 32 Gigabytes of storage space.
The 7 Gigabytes that Windows 10 will reserve initially may change over time, and Windows 10 may use other space if the reserved storage is out of space.
The size depends on two major factors -- optional features and installed languages -- which are used to determine the reserved space.
Windows 10 users can check the size of reserved storage by going to Settings > System > Storage > Show more categories > System & Reserved. There you find listed the reserved storage that Windows 10 has set aside.
Administrators may reduce the size of reserved storage by removing optional features or languages, if installed. Reserved Storage may increase if additional features or languages are installed on a device.
It is not possible, however, to remove reserved storage from the operating system. It is unclear if that means that reserved storage cannot be disabled anymore once activated, or if that just means that data that is stored in the reserved storage area cannot be removed by users.
Windows 10 will delete files in reserved storage regularly when they are not needed anymore
Microsoft published the following instructions to enable Reserved Storage on Windows 10 Insider Builds:
A value of 1 means that Reserved Storage space is enabled, a value of 0 that it is not enabled.
It remains to be seen if it is possible to set the value to 0 on devices that come with Reserved Storage enabled to disable the feature and free up space.
Microsoft's explanation on Technet falls a bit short as it is not clear just from reading the article how Windows 10 reserves the storage space. Craig Barkhouse explains in a comment that Microsoft created a solution that adds "new support" for that to the NTFS file system.
The idea is NTFS provides a mechanism for the servicing stack to specify how much space it needs reserved, say 7GB. Then NTFS reserves that 7GB for servicing usage only.
Barkhouse notes that the main drive will report the available space and that the reserved storage is subtracted automatically from that.
The use of reserved storage should improve the reliability and stability of certain processes, e.g. updating; that is a good thing but the whole feature may make low storage devices running Windows 10 even less appealing than they are already.
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