Maximizing Storage On A Windows Tablet: What Are Your Options?

Matt Smith 01-03-2013

storage on tabletsWindows tablets are now available from Microsoft and several other companies. The hardware inside them is generally the same as that found in an ultrabook, but there’s a notable exception – the hard drive. Most Windows tablets ship with only 64 or 128 gigabytes of space.


Subtract the space required for the Windows install, which is usually around 30GB, and you can see the problem. You’ll barely have enough space to hold a large music collection, never mind that and a few sizable applications. Let’s see what you can do to make the most of what little is available.

Reduce The Size Of Your Windows Installation

storage on tablets

Your tablet will come with Windows 8 installed and configured with specific features. Usually, the installation will be standard, and there may even be a few extra bits of bloatware Revo Uninstaller Will Hunt Down Your Bloatware Read More tacked on. Eliminating unwanted features can free up extra space.

Do a Windows Search for “windows features” and open the “Turn Windows features on or off” result. In the menu that opens there will be a list of optional content that can be removed. Examples include Internet Explorer, pre-packaged games, XPS viewer, Print Services and more. Un-check the feature you want to turn off and then click ok.

Of course, turning off features will also reduce functionality, so only turn off what you don’t need. You can re-install the features later but you may need access to a Windows installation file to do so.


Turn Off Hibernate

This is one of the oldest and best ways to increase storage capacity. Hibernate When Power Saving Fails: Fixing Windows 7 Hibernation Issues When you use the hibernate shut-down option, Windows 7 saves the contents of your computer’s memory to disk and powers off the computer. If your computer can’t hibernate or isn’t resuming from hibernation properly, there... Read More , although a very useful feature, works by dumping data in RAM to your hard drive. That data usually amounts to two to four gigabytes, so turning off hibernate can free up a fair shake of space.

Microsoft now makes it easy for users to turn off hibernate with a “Fix-It” utility on the company’s website. If you don’t want to use Fix-It, you can turn off hibernate with the following steps.

storage on tablets

Do a Windows Search for “cmd”.


Right-click the Command Prompt result and run as administrator.

When in the command prompt, type powercfg.exe /hibernate on and press Enter (Note the space between “.exe” and “/hibernate”).

Close the command prompt.

And that’s it. You’ve freed up several gigabytes.


Use An SD Card

windows tablet memory

Most tablets include an SD card or Micro SD card slot How To Choose The Right SD Card For The Job SD cards aren't all about storage! In fact, there are several other factors to consider, and when purchasing your cards, you should make yourself aware of them. That said, SD cards aren't all created equal,... Read More . Using this slot to provide extra storage of your tablet is a cheap, easy solution. A 64GB Micro SD card can be purchased for about $60 and will more than double the storage available on the entry-level Microsoft Surface Pro. Not a bad deal, right?

What’s the downside? While SD cards are quick to respond, file transfer times are nowhere near what an internal solid state drive can manage. Software and files won’t load with the speed you’ve come to expect. You may be disappointed to find your expensive and quick new Windows tablet held back by its slow SD card.

Still, most people don’t need quick access to every file and there’s no cheaper way to solve the storage crisis. Even cloud storage is usually more expensive and much slower. Speaking of which…


Use Cloud Storage

This one is obvious. Though not extremely quick or cost-efficient, cloud storage can complement a space-constrained tablet with minimal hassle. Microsoft itself offers up to 25GB of free storage via a SkyDrive account and numerous other companies have their own free and paid solutions.

We’ve already covered cloud storage from nearly every angle, so I won’t repeat what’s already been said. Instead I’ll direct you to our cloud storage showdown Dropbox vs. Google Drive vs. OneDrive: Which Cloud Storage Is Best for You? Have you changed the way you think about cloud storage? The popular options of Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive have been joined by others. We help you answer which cloud storage service should you use. Read More .

Upgrade The Hard Drive (Good Luck!)

storage on tablets

In the past, upgrading a PC’s hard drive has been a cinch. Anyone could do it with a little bravery, a screwdriver and a flat surface to work on. Laptops were particularly easy because they usually had just one drive, and it could be accessed by removing a small plastic panel.

Those days seem to be on their way out. Users can indeed open up the Microsoft Surface Pro but, according to iFixit, doing so is a huge pain in the butt. The internals can only be accessed by using a heat gun to weaken the adhesive holding the screen to the chassis. Do you have a heat gun? Nah, I didn’t think so. Other Windows tablets currently on the market are no easier to service. Some tablets released in the future might be easier to upgrade, but don’t bet on it.

If you do somehow manage to open your tablet you will need a 1.8” SSD replacement instead of a more traditional 2.5” drive. Oh, and you’ll almost certainly void your warranty by making the upgrade.


Users buying a Windows tablet are in a tight spot. The amount of storage bundled in current tablets is slim and upgrading the hard drive generally is not a practical solution.

Still, the options here can help. Turning off unwanted Windows features and hibernate can save anywhere from 2 to 8 gigabytes of space. Throw in a 64GB solid state drive and some cloud storage and your extra space starts to come close to 100GB. Relying on these methods to expand storage on tablets isn’t ideal (an internal drive will always be quicker and more convenient) but they’ll help the limited hard drive space feel a bit more usable.

Related topics: Hard Drive, Windows Tablet.

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  1. Tze Yu Ch'ng
    March 3, 2013 at 8:02 am

    IMO storing media file like movies on flash memory is a waste of money. It's built for performance, not storage space.

    • Matt Smith
      March 6, 2013 at 1:39 am

      But performance is the point. Thanks to MUO, I've been using SSDs for main system storage for several years now and will never go back. The increase in load times is a huge upgrade in everyday use.

  2. dragonmouth
    March 2, 2013 at 1:39 am

    If one buys a tablet, one deserves what one gets. Current tablets are not designed or meant to replace PCs or laptops. Next we'll have users wanting Blue Ray drives, a complete set of full sized ports, etc. in their tablets.

  3. Oscar
    March 1, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    Mac has the same problem

  4. Gagandeep Singh
    March 1, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    Thanx for sharing this post..Great post...Keep it up....