How can you shrink Windows 7?

Windows slim and lean in three steps

Benjamin Schischka

In just three steps, the Windows belly shrinks by several GB. After this diet, Windows fits even on a small SSD - ideal not only for your old netbook.

EnlargeWindows slim for the SSD
© iStockphoto.com/alistaircotton

An SSD hard drive not only speeds up the boot process, but the entire system. Because with SSDs, no mechanical read and write head slows down the data call. As a result, Windows and other programs start noticeably faster from the SSD than from a conventional hard drive. Opening large files is also much faster. The catch to the story: SSDs are still quite expensive.

The two options if you want to use an SSD:

  1. You dig deep into your pockets and pay a lot of money for a large SSD. All data fit on it.

  2. You use a small but cheap SSD. You install Windows and the most frequently used programs on it. A separate conventional hard drive serves as data storage and for programs that are rarely used.

The problem with the second solution: Windows is growing and the small SSD is quickly full. Space-hungry programs do the rest. To make matters worse: Leave a few GB of free space, otherwise the speed drops extremely during larger file operations. The mucking out of the temporary files - for example with the freeware CCleaner - brings a short respite. However, this is not a permanent solution. For this reason, we do not recommend SSDs of 128 GB or less. No matter how small your SSD is, the following tips will keep Windows down to a minimum of space consumption.

Step 1: move your own files

First, move your own files to the large, conventional disk that is installed as data storage next to the SSD. Navigate to My Computer under Windows 7 and Windows 10 and open the Windows hard drive with a double-click. Next, click through "User" into your account and right-click on "Documents". Select "Properties" and switch to "Path". There you click on "Move ..." and select the large hard drive. Do the same with other folders, such as Music and Videos. Depending on the size of your own files, your SSD is quickly a few GB lighter after this action.

Step 2: shrink the trash

By default, Windows gives the recycle bin a lot of space. Right-click on the trash can icon and set any maximum size in MB under "User-defined size". In this way, a few GB can be scooped up quickly and easily. Leave a few GB in the recycle bin - otherwise you will be annoyed later if an accidentally deleted file is irrevocably lost. For the same reason, we do not recommend the "Delete files immediately" setting.

Step 3: clean up Windows shadow copies

Starting with Windows 7, Windows has built in a double bottom with the shadow copy. Windows automatically creates such shadow copies in the background prior to any critical actions - such as installing updates. If something goes wrong, restore the old version via shadow copy. The shadow copies are a powerful tool for emergencies - you should therefore not switch them off. But Windows creates up to 64 of them. Reduce the number sharply to save storage space! If there is a problem, it is sufficient to jump back to the last or penultimate version.

Use shadow copies cleverly

Press the Windows key and "Pause" at the same time. In the new window on the left click on "Computer Protection". Here you can not only jump back to an old shadow copy via "System Restore ..." or create one manually using "Create ...". Via "Configure ..." you use a slider to control how much space Windows can reserve for shadow copies. Don't be too radical to be prepared for the worst - we recommend at least 3 or 4% space for shadow copies.

Under “Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Disk Cleanup” in Windows 7, you can delete all restore points except for the last one in the “Additional Options” tab under “System Restore and Shadow Copies” via “Clean up”. If the "Additional options" tab does not appear, you are not logged in as an administrator. Then run Disk Cleanup as administrator with a right click.

By the way: The shadow copies are stored on the system drive. In the event of a hard drive crash, they are therefore useless and do not spare you the regular backup.