Friday, 6 January 2017

Free Up Storage Space

Free Up Storage Space

If your hard disk is full up to the brim then there is no need to delete data. There is a compression tool hidden in Windows 10 which helps you gain a lot of GB storage space

Regardlesss of how large the hard disk and SSD become, they are going to be completely filled with data in due course of time. It is just a matter of time when Windows will you that there is no free space available. Many users then panic and resort to deleting data to free up some more space. But there is another option: In Windows 10, Microsoft has integrated a command line tool which compresses important system files if needed. Thus, you can quickly save several GB space with just one command line control.

Compressing system files? Many users will now ask whether their computer will become slower with this process. Theoretically yes, since the operating system must unpack the compressed system files when it needs them. However, there were no remarkable differences seen. The reason is that a small file can be loaded faster from the hard disk than a large one where the generally faster RAM unpacks the file.

Depending on the system, the compression may lead to a minor increase in speed.

Experience has shown that two to four GB disk space can be gained using the tool Compact.exe. This does not seem much at first. However, in really cramped conditions, every single byte counts. Also, this is of advantage for users of cheap notebooks which often have less storage, like eMMCs (Embedded Multimedia Cards). In most cases, eMMCs have only about 64 or even 32 GB space.

Compressing with Compact.exe

With the upgrade from Windows 8 to 8.1, Microsoft has already introduced a new mechanism (Windows Image Boot) by which the operating system needs less space on the hard disk. Normally, the setup program unpacks all the system files from the file Install.wim and copies them to the system partition. On the contrary, WIMBoot saves this file without unpacking it in a hidden partition on the hard disk. This has the advantage of compression but also the disadvantage that there are quickly a lot of files which the operating system does not need at all. Thus, for example, PC-makers keep on packing, more or less useful preinstalled applications in the Install.wim file.

Therefore, Microsoft has worked with Windows 10 on this useful idea and extended the NTFS compression tool Compact.exe by a function called Compact OS. It saves the files of the operating system as compressed files. The entire thing works on UEFI as well as conventional BIOS computers. This division into individual files has the advantage that Windows Update can easily replace or remove individual system files. Thereby, this feature not only saves space but also ensures that the packing and unpacking processes need less system time. You will find the tool Compact.exe in earlier Windows versions. For example, it is used there to compress individual files or folders under NTFS. But the new switch »/CompactOS«, which Microsoft has introduced only in Windows 10, ensures the compression of system files.

How to proceed

1 Determine allocated memory

First check the current memory allocation in Windows 10 so that you will know how much space you have gained at the end of this tutorial. To do this, press the key combination [Windows] + [I] which will open the ‘‘Settings” windows. There, activate the category ‘‘System” and click in the left column on the option ‘‘Storage”. The bar under ‘‘This PC” will now show you how much space is allocated. Note down the size of the allocated storage space on paper.

2 Open command line

To compress the system files of Windows 10, start the ‘‘Command prompt” with administrator rights. For this, right-click on the Windows icon on the bottom left of the desktop. In the context menu, select the option ‘‘Command prompt (Administrator)” and respond to the security question of the user account control by clicking on ‘‘Yes”.

3 Check compression status

It may happen that the manufacturer of your computer or Windows 10 has already activated the compression which in reality is a rare case. With the command ‘‘compact /q”, you can determine the compression status. It not only shows you how many files are compressed but also the compression ratio. If it is ‘‘1.0 to 1” the compression is not yet activated. If you type the command ‘‘compact /CompactOS:query” then you will learn why Windows has decided for or against an automatic compression. But you may confidently ignore the recommendation that the compression is not beneficial as the advantages clearly outweigh it in most cases.

4 Compressing system files

The actual compression of Windows system files can be done using the command ‘‘compact /CompactOS:always”. The PC will now be engaged for several minutes with the packing of the files. Thereafter you will see how many files have been compressed in the process and what is the new compression ratio.

5 Determine memory gained

Now execute the steps described in step 1 again and compare the values under with the values noted down now. You will now see how much storage space has been freed up. It was somewhat more than two GB in the sample action.

6 Restore old status

Should you get the feeling again that the compression of system files is slowing down your computer then you can easily revoke the same. For this type the command ‘‘compact /CompactOS:never” in the command prompt. Even this process will take several minutes. The compression will be revoked thereafter.