Running Out of Room: A WTG Tip

windowstogo_thumb.jpgI have written and posted myriad articles over the years about Windows To Go (WTG); I have been running Windows off a USB device on-and-off since Windows 8 was in beta, but very consistently for the past three years.

While larger devices are available (at greater cost) I have been satisfied with my 64GB Spyrus Worksafe Pro for a few years, and I cannot imagine spending the money to upgrade.  Th 64GB device that I currently use costs $218.50; even upgrading to the next largest device (128GB for $427.50) would be a large expenditure for what I use the device for.  (In comparison, the 256GB version of the same device would cost $593.75, the 512GB version would cost $736.25, and the largest 1TB version would run you $1,187.50)

Spyrus-WSP.jpgThe bottom line is this: I do not want to spend the money to upgrade; with that said, I keep getting notifications that I am running out of drive space.  So what can I do to avoid these?

I should mention that I am not actually using the whole 64GB for my C: Drive… I have also allocated (along with the other system partitions that Windows creates) a 16GB data partition.  All of that leaves my C: Drive with a seemingly respectable 38.81GB of storage…

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Unfortunately, from that space, the following is taken off the top:

c:\Windows: 22GB
c:\Program Files: 2.1GB
c:\Program Files (x86): 3.7GB
c:\ProgramData: 3.8GB
Pagefile.sys: ~4GB

While you may question if I actually need all of the applications I have installed on the device, let’s assume that I do… and if I am using the defaults for both Windows and Office, I am going to run out of free space very quickly.

So… what do I do to mitigate this issue?  I ran into the issue this weekend, and I was literally at 114MB free on the drive.  Here’s what I did:

1) There was a legacy profile on my device; I had the device running for a couple of months before I joined it to my Azure Active Directory, and switched from my Microsoft Account to my AzureAD account.  By deleting the legacy profile (which had several months of e-mail in it) the free space on the C: Drive climbed up to nearly 2GB… and then dropped in a big hurry.  Why?  I expected that, and was not concerned; that issue would be resolved in Step 2…

To delete unneeded user profiles, see this article.

2) Set your system’s paging file to a static size.  I use my WTG key on a few different computers, with RAM ranging from 3GB to 32GB.  There was a time that I recommended all computers have static paging files of 1.5x the system RAM… but those days are long gone, and if you do the quick math, that would be impossible on my 38GB system partition anyways.  For what I use the system for (chiefly as an Information Worker, but also for VPN and RDP), I have found that Windows works just fine with a 2GB paging file, and so that is what I use.

To resize your Paging File size, see this article.

3) I do not like to disable Cached Exchange Mode in Outlook… I like to have my e-mail available to me, even when I am not connected to the Internet.  By default, Outlook caches three months worth of e-mails (and calendar items, etc…) for each configured account.  On my WTG installation, I maintain two accounts, so that amounts to roughly 180 days of items (which not only includes important texts, but also PowerPoint presentations, videos, and family photos).  All in all, this weekend I discovered 625MB of Outlook items stored on my local device.  I went into my Account Settings in Outlook (for each account), and changed the cache to one week on one account and two weeks on the other.  This lowered the used space from 625MB to just over 200MB (which includes all of my contacts, which I want to maintain).

By performing these three simple steps I went from having 114MB free on my C: Drive to a very comfortable 6.7GB free.  While that would not be very much on one of my servers, for a device that I carry around in my pocket I am quite satisfied with it.

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