Free up space on Surface – Part 3

Free up space on Surface
Using Tools to Free Up Space on Surface:

It’s been a couple of weeks since the last part of this series was posted. All the excitement around the new Surface 2 has been dominating our posts but now it’s time to get back to helping you free up space on your Surface tablet.

In part 1 of this series, we showed you how to remove the recovery partition from your Surface tablet which could free up 4 to 8 GB of space depending if you have a Surface RT/2 or Surface Pro/Pro2 tablet.

In part 2, we covered how you could expand the available storage on your Surface by adding a MicroSD card. Granted, that’s not technically freeing up space but it is making more free space available.

In this part, we’re going to cover using built-in or downloadable tools to delete temporary or unneeded files that are needlessly taking up space on your drive.

Free up space on Surface Tablets

These steps work on Surface RT/2 and Surface Pro/Pro2. They also work whether you’ve upgraded to Windows 8.1 or stuck with 8.0.

  • Don’t cache all of your e-mail: Caching your mail for long periods of time can really eat up your disk space. Especially if you get a lot of attachments and/or you have multiple mail accounts. By default, the Metro mail client will only cache messages received in the past two weeks. That’s usually long enough to have your important stuff is with you but not so much that it starts impacting your free space. So, if you’ve changed your mail caching but are running out of space, change it back to 2 weeks. If you’re using a mail client other than the default Metro one, the same advice applies.
  • Cleanup Wizard: Microsoft included a handy tool to help you clean up unused or temporary files on your Surface.
    • Log in to your Surface with admin rights.
    • Open the Charms bar (swipe in from the right of the screen) and select the Search charm.
    • In the Search charm, tap on settings and search for “free up disk space”.
    • Tap Free up Disk Space by Deleting Unnecessary Files.

    • The Disk Cleanup wizard will start in desktop and will start scanning your hard drive for files it can safely remove.

    • Tap the Clean up system files button. The clean up system files option will let you free up a little more space than just doing the basic cleanup.
    • The scan window will appear again.

    • This time, you’ll notice the Disk Cleanup application is now missing the “Clean up system files” button but has gained a “More Options” tab.

    •  Tap the More Options tab.
    • From here, tap the Clean Up button under the “System Restore and Shadow copies” section.

    • You’ll get a warning prompt. Click Delete.

    • Next, tap on the Disk Cleanup tab.
    • Check all of the boxes in the “Files to Delete” section. You’ll probably need to scroll down to do so.

    • Tap OK.
    • You’ll get another warning prompt. Tap Delete Files.

    • Your Surface will start performing the cleanup. You’ll get the following progress window. It can take some time so be patient. After it finishes, you don’t need to close anything to do anything else and you can go back to using your Surface.

  • Uninstall Unused Apps: This one is so simple sometimes people overlook it. You can easily uninstall apps you are no longer using (or are no longer worth the space on your drive) with a tool built into your Surface that let’s you see how much space each app is taking up.
    • Log in to your Surface with admin rights.
    • Open the Charms bar (swipe in from the right of the screen) and select the Search charm.
    • In the Search charm, tap on settings and search for “free up disk space”.
    • This time, select Uninstall Apps to Free up Disk Space.

    • You’ll get the following window. Wait until the scan is finished, it’s determining the sizes of your installed apps.

    • Tap on one of the apps you want to uninstall. In this example, I chose SugarSync.

    • Tap Uninstall. You’ll get a warning screen like this one. Tap Uninstall again.

    • Repeat until you’ve uninstalled all of the apps you want to.
  • Folder Compression: Another thing you can do is compress folders that have data in them that you don’t use often but want to keep. There’s a performance hit if you try to access data in a compressed folder because your Surface has to decompress it for use but if you are careful about what you compress, you will be able to pick up some valuable space and never notice the performance loss.
    • Go to desktop mode and open Explorer.
    • Tap and Hold on the folder you want to compress (right-click). In this example, we’re compressing my Videos folder.

  • When the dialog popup appears, tap Properties.

  • In the Properties window, tap Advanced.

  • In the Advanced Attributes window, check the Compress Contents to Save Disk Space box.

  • In the Confirm Attribute Changes window, tap OK. You’ll end up back on the main Properties page. Tap OK again.
  • You’ll get a Confirm Attribute Changes window. Ensure the Apply Changes to this Folder, Subfolders and Files radio button is selected.

  • You’ll get a Applying Attributes progress window.

After it’s done compressing the files, you might notice the the font for your compressed files changed from black to blue (like below). This is normal and is an easy way to determine which files on your drive are compressed. The file on the left is compressed and the file on the right is not.

Note: If you ever need to decompress a folder(s), just follow the same steps but, uncheck the “Compress this folder” box.

OK, that’s it. If you’ve followed some or all of the advice above you should have freed up at least some space to fill back up with more interesting data.

As always, if you have questions or comments, please let me know.


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