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Updates slowly sucking the life out of my laptop's storage

Windows 10 updates slowly sucking the life out of my laptop's storage

Hello there,

I hope you can help me with this tech conundrum I find myself in. Up front, just let me say I'm computer-savvy but no techie, and also, I mostly work in Mac, so please gauge your answers to this level of competence. Three years ago I bought a HP Stream 11.6 Inch Laptop (Intel Celeron, 2 GB, 32 GB eMMC), right around the time that Windows 10 was introduced. Now, with each upgrade, the operating system has been taking over the paltry 32G hard drive, until I am currently operating on approx 1G of space. The memory in the computer can't be removed and I've added a 64G card but don't know how/if I can port over the operating system to this memory.

I've done all the homework: compressed the hard drive files and continually clean out the system files via Properties. Being someone who hates waste (besides really liking this little notebook), I would really love to solve this without turning this computer into a doorstop. Is there another basic operating system I could install that doesn't hog so much memory? Which? How? Any other solution?

Help me, Obi-Wan're my only hope. Thanks.

Submitted by: Peter (aka ReRetroPete)

Note: Subject line edited by Forum admin for clarity.

Post was last edited on October 12, 2018 1:43 PM PDT

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Check out Puppy Linux

It usually is hard to convince someone to drop Windows in favour of Linux, but as a Mac user you are mostly there already. And there are a few distros specially made for smallish - often older - machines just like yours. I don't have the links with me here and now, but in essence you download an iso dvd image, load it to a 4gb usb stick and boot from that. If you like what you see you can copy it to your hdd and henceforth boot from there. In order to make space you may want to lose your win10.

My instincts tell me that I would want to try hard to put a bigger hdd or ssd in there but with a puppy li ux you shouldn't need to.

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Xubuntu should do it.

I've been using Xubuntu for years, ever since Vista came out, I won't ever go back to Windows again.
If you have to use Windows on the thing, see if it has a "recovery drive" built in, usually a partition with the last updates and system files. It can be up to 16 GB! Also delete all restore points, as they will take up as much space as you allocate... maybe most of your drive. You might also be able to wipe the drive, and do a fresh install of the latest Windows 10, which should be smaller than the original plus the 2Gb updates every few months and the larger updates every 6 months, which quickly can clog even a 32GB (which used to be considered HUGE) drive. !
By comparison, a Linux install, such as Xubuntu, will typically only use less than 2GB of space TOTAL, including any updates!

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I love the Stream

I'm jealous of you. I have a small 11" Dell - same specs and don't love it - and am almost ready to chuck it for the Stream. But my Dell tech is going to help me wipe out the drive and install a version of Windows 10 by USB. He just had me download it onto and 8GB thumb drive last night and we'll be doing it on Saturday. Good luck.

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Running out of room

I suggest if you can afford it get get a 1T backup drive that plugs into the USB, get a cloning software (several found in cnet download) and clone to that drive eras your internal drive with laptop set to boot from usb. You could then use the 32G drive for files or keep all on the external. I know it's a drag packing two things around.
Another way is with SD cards. I have seen upwards of 120G.

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Re: update

Post was last edited on October 6, 2018 1:07 AM PDT

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Some options...

Before you start make a full backup of your user data and an image copy of your current system drive - heed Lee's waening in his intro!. But if you have been reading this forum for a while, you will already have the backups, right?

1. As others have said, you could move to Linux; it's a Unix like operating system and your Mac OSX is also Unix based, so it should be a relatively straightforward transition unless you have a lot of Canon peripherals or need Adobe Acrobat Pro.

2. Use the Microsoft Media Creation tool to create an ISO DVD or USB drive of the 1809 Feature upgrade, or download it directly. Move all your data to a backup drive and delete it from your system disk. Use the ISO image to do the update. Check it out and if OK, delete any rubbish the update left behind. Restore your user data to your system drive.

3. Create bootable ISO media as in 2. Make absolutely sure you have all the installation media and product keys for your application programs. Make absolutely sure you have all your user date backed up. Wipe the system disk and install a fresh copy of Windows 10 at release 1809. Re-install all your applications. Transfer your user data from your backup.

None of these options are particularly attractive and involve quite a lot of work. Option 1, you'll probably only have to do once; somewhere down the track you may well find you need to repeat either option 2 or 3.

One last thing that would be available to all three, would be to move your data on to a USB flash drive, I have a SanDisk 128 GB drive that sticks out of the USB port by a quarter of an inch, or an SD card if you have a slot. If you do this, you will remember to back it up regularly, won't you?

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Paul Criger

A great way to make sure you have all of your Product Keys is to Download and run Belarc Advisor. It will take a census of your system and list everything installed with Product Keys. Print it out and you have a checklist of everything that you need to reinstall. Also, Install the bare minimum of printer software. HP and Canon add a lot of extra junk that most people don't use.

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Linux is Your best Bet


I agree with the others who have suggested that a type of Linux is your best option here. Puppy Linux was suggested as it is lightning fast and easy on resources. While I love Puppy and basically agree, I don't personally believe the it's the best choice for a brand new Windows refugee. I say this as someone who's made the transition you are considering. Puppy's file and software systems are different from everything else, and it can take some time and experimentation to feel comfortable there. Posting questions on their forum, even their beginner's forum, can be frustrating and/or intimidating for a beginner.

I have previously posted on this forum that I truly believe that the best choice for a Windows newbie is Linux Mint. I believe it has the most "Windows-like" feel. It actually is somewhere in between a Mac and Windows user experience and you my friend, are already there! The system itself probably won't occupy more than about 4 GB, then it's just a matter of how much personal data you load on it.

For your machine, I would go to the Linux Mint download site: and download the 32 bit Xfce version. Then you need to grab that file and make it a bootable USB. This is best done ( in Windows at least) with software called "Unetbootin" or "Rufus". There are plenty of easy to follow tutorials for this on Youtube and elseware Google can help you find. I'm assuming your box is already set to boot from USB, but you may may need to Google "How to boot from USB" on your particular model as you may need to press a particular function key to get there. Once Mint is booted up, it gets easier.

You will be met with a rudimentary but easy tutorial page. I suggest reading it, but pithy questions are easily answered by the Linux Mint forum community or a Google search. The only thing you really have to know as a beginner is that "File Manager" = "My Computer" and you have enough knowledge to start knocking around and getting familiar. I suggest you play with it in "Live Mode" first for a while, because ultimately you'll need to wipe Windows to make room for your new best friend. This can be selected as a simple option during the installation process. If you're feeling spunky, you could follow the directions here: to create a persistent USB that would allow you to make and keep changes in the "Live Mode" to make sure you are happy with Mint before you grenade your Windows system.

I made this change about a dozen years ago and have never looked back. Now to me, Windows is just something that's easy to look through, easy to break, and expensive to replace. Hope this helps!

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One More Thing...

I just wanted to add that while Mint comes pre-installed with most everything you need to get started, you may at some point wish to add software. Again, a Google search can help you find the best software options for a particular task. If you need to print, HP and Cannon printers are well supported in Linux, others to varying degrees or not at all. If you are trying to force a particular square peg of a printer into the round hole of Linux, you may need to ask for some help. Also, when given the option of how to set up your update manager, I would suggest choosing the option "Don't Break my Computer" to avoid some of the same nasty surprises Windows includes in its updates.

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use the cloud

copy your data to an external drive and use the cloud to keep your day to day stuff on. Google and MS give a lot of free storage. Having moved your stuff off the hard drive do a disk cleanup including system files. Windows 10 only uses about 16GB for the program. Get rid of any programs that you do not use and all should be well.

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Yet One More Thing

I suggested downloading the 32 bit version of Mint. This is correct IF your box is strictly 32 bit or one of the hybrids that claims both 32 bit and 64 bit capabilities. However, if you know this box to be 64 bit only, download thst version. If one doesn't work, try thr other. In any case, you should get an error message when you try to boot up if you have the wrong version.

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A few things, but...

First off, the hardware configuration of your computer skirts very near to the very MINIMUM required to run Windows 10. It is never going to be very fast.

But you said you compressed the files (which also slows down performance but I can see why it may be necessary in your case.

There is a wide variety of Linux distributions available, but whether or not any of these will speed up your notebook computer is open to question. You have to know what you are doing when you install it, but I would recommend Debian because it may be the most bare-bones distribution and therefore more appropriate for your relatively low-powered, low-capacity machine.

There are many caveats to installing Linux, chief among which is the availability of device drivers for your input devices on a notebook computer, although this may be less of an issue on an HP than on some other brands. It also relies largely on you to deal with security issues through your control of file permissions. If you want to try Linux, do some research first.

Although I run what is now a quite elderly desktop (home-built nine years ago with Vista as its original O/S, although it was a real screamer at the time of its construction), I have not experienced any slowdowns due to Windows updates or upgrades. My top suggestion for you would be to invest in a new notebook or tablet with a somewhat more robust configuration. It would not require very much of an investment to improve significantly on what you've got now.

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Check Boot Options First

Check to see if your HP Stream can boot from the media card reader slot or from a USB port.
You already have a 64GB SD or micro-SD card installed. Now, also plug in a USB flash drive, too.
Next, enter the BIOS:
Turn on or restart the computer, quickly press esc, and then press f10.
This will open the BIOS (or UEFI) system settings. Look for a tab or section named BOOT (or Start, maybe). In the BOOT tab, look to see if you can choose to boot up from the USB port or the card reader slot. If a choice is available that means you can put Windows 10 or another operating system of your choice onto the SD card or the USB flash drive and run the system from there. Other people here have already mentioned how to put Windows or some version of Linux onto the card or flash drive, and those type of cards/drives have become very affordable recently.

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Computer Speed

Make sure to test ANY Linux distro in live mode first. While there, you can check to see if you have any issues with printing, wireless, etc. You can also roughly judge how "snappy" it will be using that system. While live USB mode is very close to installed performance, the system will still be quicker once installed to the hard drive. I have difficulty believing you won't notice a big improvement from what you have now. The only conceivable difference might be boot-up time. Later versions of Windows and Mac leave remnants of the OS idling in the background after shut-down to facilitate a quick boot time. Linux shuts everything down and therefore requires a few more seconds to boot. Usually done in 45-60 seconds or so.

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First of all

It's not memory it's storage.
I don't know what 32GB of storage formats out to but something less.
If you are going to run w10 on that your in for a constant fight.
There are tools like disk cleanup and ccleaner.
Then you can limit the amount of space that system restore takes.
Then you can look into one of the linux flavors.

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Thanks Bob, I went ahead and edited the subject line.

To avoid confusion. Thanks again.

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Thank you Gerrd, janitorman, netsiu, Kees_B, Zouch, Javelin-Dan, h_bretman, Flatworm, gaucherre and Bob_B for sharing your experience and expertise with all these terrific ideas/solutions. Having given me direction, and feeling much more informed than I was when facing a screen that said I am down to 917k (!) of memory, I am leaning toward Linux. Probably Mint.

Given your instructions, I feel pretty confident of walking my way through the process of installing it on that little box (ie making an ISO image, etc) and I always have Youtube there as my ally. So a BIG Thank you for taking the time in answering my query, and for redeeming my little notebook—which I’ve grown so fond of!

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Thank you Peter!

It's always a treat when a member follows up on their topic! I'm sure folks here will appreciate the note from you!!

Cheers and good luck in your quest!

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A Little Extra Help

Pete, I see that you have already solved your problem, but I think you could still cut quite a bit down by removing the Windows.old folder, as it contains a lot of rubbish that takes up a lot of spce if you're never going to use it. It's only there in case you do the update and either don't like it, or if your laptop or computer freezes after the update, so then you can do the rollback to get your device started again. If your device is working smoothly after the update and you like it, and don't intend to go back, then you can follow these steps to uninstall the windows.old folder. (Don't just delete the folder, as it could cause problems!)
Do you have a second hard drive? If not, is there a drive bay for installing one? If so, I would also suggest you create a folder on it called E:\Users\YourUserName (where E:\ is the drive letter. If it's another letter, use that instead.) and then follow these instructions to move all your data from the main hard drive to this data hard drive.

1. Open Windows Explorer
2. Click on the folder that bears your UserName to open it.
3. Right-click on the Desktop folder.
4. Right-click on the Location tab. The location should be C:\Users\YourUserName\Desktop.
5. Change the C to an E (or whatever your drive letter is.)
6. Click on the Apply button.
7. When it asks you if you want to create the new folder, click on Yes.
8. When it asks you if you want to move all the files there, click on Yes.
9. Do this for all the special data folders (Downloads, Documents, etc.)

You should now have a lot of extra space on your main hard drive. Use this drive to install your programs, and from now on, when you add documents, pictures, video files, and etc, they will all be using your data hard drive.

I have followed these steps and now have next to nothing on my C: drive, even with all the programs I have installed.

I hope this helps!

~ Barry

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Remove old version of Windows if you upgraded

I was going to suggest what Barry did above...and add this: if you upgraded from WIn 7 or 8 to Win 10, the old operating system version is sitting there on your hard drive wasting space, assuming you are not going to go back to the old version. Win 10 can run on a smallish HD, but updates will cause trouble unless you clean it up now and then using disk cleanup.

Here's an old CNET article about getting rid of the old windows files you no longer need from:

Here's the proper way to delete the Windows.old folder:

Step 1: Click in Windows' search field, type Cleanup, then click Disk Cleanup.
Step 2: Click the "Clean up system files" button.
Step 3: Wait a bit while Windows scans for files, then scroll down the list until you see "Previous Windows installation(s)."
Step 4: Check the box next to the entry, then make sure there are no other boxes checked (unless you do indeed want to delete those items). Click OK to start the cleanup.

As you can see from my screenshots, Windows 8 was occupying nearly 25GB of space -- a full 10 percent of my solid-state drive. Needless to say, I was glad to be rid of it and get that space back...."

I actually rolled back to Win 7 after too many problems with Win 10 using a system image - I did try to use the built in rollback of Win 10 but it failed, so no point having it there at all imho.

Good luck.

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You could buy a new Stream

You know the 11" is only $199 and comes with a free year of MS Office 365. Purple, Blue or Gray.

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A Little More...


At the risk of confusing you, I’m going to guild the lily and give you just a little more information about Linux that will come in handy sooner or later. I only do this because I learned all this the hardest way possible – with no sherpa to guide me, and trial and error (LOTS of error)!

All of the hundreds of Linux distributions (flavors) evolved from just a couple original OS’s. Debian is the most notable for this conversation as most of the easy-to-use distros that don’t require a lot of put-sing around in the command line sprang from that. Ubuntu, Linux Mint, and many other popular distros that operate mostly in the “Graphical User Interface” or GUI (desktop environment) can trace their lineage to Debian. I highly value and respect all the work the Debian team has done over the years, and I tried it for a while liking most of what I saw, but found it a little wonky for my tastes. I say this as a non-coding, knuckle-dragging Windows refugee who stringently avoids the command-line terminal as much as possible. An example of what I mean can be found here: documenting the procedure for simple Debian updates. The true beauty of all the later Debian derivatives is that they streamlined and simplified many of the terminal tasks that true geeks so dearly love and average Windows users loath, and replaced them with simple point-and-click commands much more familiar to Windows users. I’ve often said that the main difference between an average computer user and a geek is that the geek says “Why simply click an icon when you can write three pages of code?” Great for some, not for me.

For a true Linux beginner with little or no code writing experience, you basically couldn’t go wrong with Ubuntu or any of its relatives, Linux Mint being my hands down choice. I used various forms of Ubuntu for many years and only migrated to Mint after having had a couple of computers crash after updates. I painfully discovered that most Linux OS’s like Windows, include all the “bleeding edge” twerks and tweaks along with all the regular necessary software updates and bug fixes. That is exactly why I previously suggested choosing the “Don’t Break my Computer” option in the update manager with Mint. One other reason I choose Mint is that they generally base the newest release number on the kernel used in the last version of Ubuntu. While not bleeding edge, it tends to provide much better stability having had most if not all of the bugs worked out in previous updates.

One other thing to pay attention to is the “version” of a particular distribution you are choosing. This can refer to a couple of things...

One is the particular release number. Ubuntu for example, releases a new version number every six months with support for that version lasting nine months. However, every fourth year, an “LTS” or Long Term Support version is released with updates and support provided for that version for five years. This means that you will be able to easily update and maintain that version for five years before it becomes necessary to replace it with a newer one. Appealing, no? Every “flavor” of an Ubuntu derivative will do something similar but possibly slightly different. The download link I included in my previous post was for Linux Mint 19 “Tara” which will expire in the year 2023.

The last thing I’ll ask you to pay attention to regarding “version” is the type of Desktop Environment. This will be identified by names such as: “GNOME”, “Unity”, “KDE”, “LXDE”, “MATE”, “Cinnamon”, “XFCE”, and others. These are all various look-and-feel environments for your user interface, and all have relative advantages and disadvantages. Simply stated, the more features and glitz, the more resources they require. The more light weight the “DE”, the more vanilla in appearance. For your purposes and the modest specs of your machine, I would suggest XFCE as the best compromise of performance vs. resources, with LXDE, LXQT, and possibly MATE being possible substitutes, though I confess I have no experience with MATE.

I didn’t intend to write a book, but when I got interested enough to try Linux I would have payed money for someone to explain these things so I could understand them and put them into some sort of perspective. I hope to have helped you in some small way.

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you should also mention...

That when he does linux updates that he should remove the old files (kernels, libraries, headers, etc.) or else then next time an update is invoked, it wont happen or in some rare cases, will freeze.
One would like to think that doing a package update from the GUI would automatically do this...not in all distros.
Even doing this at the CL:
sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade
will not always remove the old files unless one specifically does: sudo apt autoremove
Depending on the package manager, sometimes it will do it, sometimes it will tell you to run autoremove, sometimes nothing.
Anyway, the OP probably wont' run into this for a while but should be aware

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Not enough room on laptop

my granddaughter has one of these laptops - and if i was buying one i would lay out the money for an external hard drive also

my granddaughter hardly has any room to type documents for school - that is why she got the laptop for school

i have a chrome book and i never type on it - i use it for email and facebook

i have a large desktop which is my main computer - my other granddaughter got a nice laptop at best buy for $250 and it has a large hard drive and plenty of room for documents and pictures so before you buy think what you will be using laptop for

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Running out of Room

I have an HP Laptop and I pulled the Hard drive out and put in a large SSD drive. Two things resulted. Obviously I have a lot of memory but more importantly my laptop now boots in one-third the time it use to. Two problems solved.

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It is your bare-bones laptop not windows. Too small of hardware resources.

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Another vote for Mint

You may love that little laptop, but it's time to face reality. Celeron = slow. 2GB RAM = absolute minimum to run Win10, and even then not well, 32GB storage - you already know the extreme limitations. Your cell phone may well be more powerful than that laptop. If you insist on keeping it out of loyalty, give Mint a try. 64-bit should work. Copy off your data files, then wipe the drive. Boot Mint from a flash drive (others have suggested how) and let Mint decide on the setup parameters. Consider it a learning chapter in your life. Mint really is Windows like but without the corrupted updates.

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O/S Bloat over time

Yup, your little laptop can only handle Windows 10 if you closely manage things. The O/S takes up 19 Gb. If you turn off hibernation mode, you'll save a lot of space used by hiberfil.sys. That leaves you with 13 Gb for programs and the PROGRAMDATA folder. I recommend downloading PatchCleaner (freeware) which cleans your windows Installer directory of orphaned and redundant installation (.msi) and patch (.msp) files. You might also wish to purchase Folder Sizes 8, a disk space management tool but, it's not cheap. Finally, you may wish to install as many applications as possible on an external drive. Of course, all of this takes away from the purpose of a small laptop which is convenience and ease of use.

There are lots of lightweight Linux installs you can try. See [15 Best Lightweight OS for Old Laptop and Netbook in 201Cool.

Good luck!

P.S. O/S bloat can also happen with Linuxl depending on what you install and your own housekeeping.

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Choices on smaller computer

I run multiple computers and the best bet I have found for a computer that has a slow processor , low storage capacity and not a lot of ram has been to install Linux Mint. The primary reason is the desktop looks and works a lot like Windows used to. I would suggest backing up everything that you want from the computer. You can get a Linux Mint ISO disk and boot from that drive and load and test it first to see if you like it. If you do like it you reboot and install it. All music , photos and documents usable in Windows will work in Linux Mint. It has Libre Office as part of it and it looks and feels like MS Office. I've loaded it on 10 year old machines that people dumped because they no longer ran Windows. Once Linux Mint is installed you can import everything you backed up.

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Set up two laptops with this problem easy fix

Go to settings and set windows to download all apps,store all music, documents etc to micro card (got 2 on eBay 250 gb ea for the unbleavible price of 10.50 ea)
The computer will act normal and will not be inpared. This is a easy fix.

Setting......System.......Storage......change where new content is stored

Also activate storage sense (on)

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