Microsoft: Windows 10 to grab 7GB of your storage so big updates don't fail

The 'reserved storage' coming with the next Windows 10 version is another reason to avoid PCs with little storage.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

In the next major release of Windows 10, Microsoft will reserve 7GB of your device's storage to resolve a Windows 10 bug thrown up by Windows Update not checking whether a PC has enough storage space before launching after big updates.

As Microsoft warned ahead of the Windows 10 October 2018 Update, systems that don't have enough space to install Microsoft's 'quality updates' or new versions of the OS will see an error message explaining there is insufficient storage space. 

That happens because Windows doesn't check if a device has enough space before initializing. Microsoft's current solution is for users to manually delete unnecessary temporary files and temporarily move important files like photos and videos to external storage devices to make enough space for the update. 

This problem is more acute for devices with little storage capacity, such as many of the cheap 32GB flash-drive PCs on the market today.   

In Windows 10 19H1, or version 1903 when it's released this year, Microsoft is introducing 'reserved storage', which will keep around 7GB of disk space -- but possibly more -- available purely so that updates can be installed smoothly. 

Reserved storage won't be unused though. It'll be a dumping ground for temporary files that users would have to remove anyway if they've got insufficient space at the time of an update. Temporary files are automatically placed in reserved storage. 

It also automates the procedures that currently require users to manually resolve errors caused by Windows not checking for available space.

The temporary files in reserved storage will not consume free user space and will be less likely to do so as temporary files increase in number, so long as the reserve isn't full, according to Microsoft.

There will be some intelligent management of reserved storage and free user disk space thanks to the already released Windows 10 Storage Sense storage-management utility.  

"Since disk space has been set aside for this purpose, your device will function more reliably. Storage sense will automatically remove unneeded temporary files, but if for some reason your reserve area fills up, Windows will continue to operate as expected while temporarily consuming some disk space outside the reserve if it is temporarily full," Microsoft explains

SEE: 20 pro tips to make Windows 10 work the way you want (free PDF)    

The feature is enabled automatically on devices that ship with Windows 10 version 1903 and on clean installs of 1903. Users won't be able to remove reserved storage, but they can adjust the amount that is reserved, as explained below. 

On devices with reserved storage Windows Update will delete temporary and unneeded files in reserved storage and then use reserved space first for downloading updates. 

Microsoft believes this will allow "most PCs" to install updates without users having to free up space. And if Windows Update needs more space than is reserved, it will automatically use other available free space. 

If that fails, users need revert to manual processes, such as dumping files on external storage, such as using a USB stick.

Microsoft estimates that reserved storage will start at about 7GB, but notes it could need more depending on how a device is used. 

While reserved storage can't be removed, Microsoft classes it as an 'optional feature', which can be viewed in Settings > Apps > Apps & features > Manage optional features. 

"You can reduce the amount of space required for reserved storage on your device by uninstalling optional features you are not using," explains Microsoft. However it doesn't say by how much. 

Windows Insiders on the 19H1 preview build 18298 or newer should be able to see how much 'uninstalling' the optional feature changes reserved storage.   

Users can check the size of reserved storage on their system by clicking Start > Search for 'Storage settings' > then Click 'Show more categories' > Click 'System & reserved' > and looking at the 'Reserved storage' size.


Reserved Storage will take around 7GB of your device's disk space so Windows can update. 

Image: Microsoft

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