Windows Enterprise Desktop

Sep 22 2011   5:34PM GMT

Noodling on Windows 7 Footprint Reduction for SSD Migration

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

I’m in the process of switching all my production notebook PCs over from conventional hard disks to SSDs, thanks to a recent sale at Newegg that put the latest 120 GB OCZ Agility 3 units (SATA 2/3, SandForce-based, with astonishing read/write data rates for SATA 3 in excess of 500 Mbps) for under $170 a pop. To that end, I’ve been noodling on various techniques for reducing the Windows 7 footprint to move from 250-500 GB HDs to a 120 GB SSD replacement. I’ve been blogging like crazy on this topic over at, so I’ll share some pointers and observations here, and make some recommendations for similarly-minded IT professionals and computing enthusiasts:

  • You can use a nice CodePlex tool called DriverStore Explorer to identify and delete obsolete or duplicate drivers from the Windows 7 C:\Windows\System32\DriverStore\FileRepository directory. This has never failed to deliver less than a 1 GB disk space saving on all of the systems I’ve tried it on, notebook and desktop systems alike. See my blog “Another Nice System Drive Cleanup Maneuver: DriverStore Explorer.”
  • If you’re running VMs on a PC, you can easily relocate the huge virtual hard drive (VHD) files from your system disk to a different hard disk, even a plug-in portable USB (preferably USB 3) hard disk, if your notebook supports that technology. Read more about this at “More Noodling on System Drive Space-Saving: Move those VHDs!” I have yet to save less than 4 GB on any VHD I’ve relocated, sometimes a great deal more space than that, in fact.
  • If you run Outlook without storing messages via an Exchange server, you’ll have two or more large PST files to deal with by default–namely, Outlook.pst and Archive.pst. I’ve learned some interesting tools and techniques for repair and compaction of such files, covered in my posting entitled “Interesting tips and tweaks for PST file cleanup & optimization.” Check it out: on heavily used systems these techniques usually deliver 2-4 GB of space savings!
  • Be sure also to check your restore point allocation for the system system: Click the Configure button in the Protection Settings pane on the System Protection tab of the System Properties windows (launch this by clicking Start, right-clicking Computer, then properties, then System Protection), to manage your Disk Space Usage setting. My laptops with 250 or 500 GB drives routinely allocated 10 GB or more to this use, and I trim to under 4 GB for a 120 GB SSD. More big space savings that way.
  • Download and run Piriform’s CCleaner on your notebook or PC hard disk before you do your migration process. There’s absolutely no point in copying over stuff that needn’t be on your drive in the first place. You should also grab the SourceForge software package WinDirStat and use it to zero in on large files and directories on your system to see if there’s stuff you can move or delete before imaging over the hard disk contents to an SSD. YMMV will vary on space savings realized.
  • Look over your applications carefully before you migrate, too–I use Revo Uninstaller to clean apps off of my systems–because you can save on disk space by eliminating unnecessary applications. On new PCs or laptops, I’ll often use the PC Decrapifier to get rid of pre-installed programs I don’t want or will never use from my machines. You may find it helpful, too. YMMV will vary on space savings realized here, too.

If you have any other space-saving tips for Windows 7 machines, please share them as comments on this blog post. If I get any real doozies, I’ll write them up and give you credit for inspiration, too! Thanks in advance.

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