Using A Tiny SSD? Slim Down Windows 7 With Minimal Installs

Christian Cawley 14-09-2012

slim down windows 7I’ve recently stepped into the modern age and purchased a SSD device for my main PC. The reasoning was sound – my old main HDD was getting old and slow and I wanted to start to reduce my electricity bill as much as possible. The advantage of a drive that would react quickly to boots and sleep mode without me having to switch the computer on several minutes in advance was obvious.


However I wasn’t entirely certain about bringing the SSD into my PC, so I opted to spend as little as possible and purchased a 30 GB drive from OCZ.

Of course, this brings us to an obvious problem – is there enough space on a 30 GB drive to successfully run Windows 7? More than enough, as it turns out. Indeed, it is possible to install and run Windows 7 on a drive as small as 8 GB!

Can You Run Windows 7 on an 8 GB Drive?

Additionally, I’m a big believer in keeping my vital personal data on a separate drive to my Windows system device as much as possible. This makes it very easy to reinstall Windows if necessary.

How big is your hard disk drive? 80 GB? 300 GB? 5 TB? You might well have more than enough space, but if you own a device with a small SSD – perhaps a netbook, for instance – there is very little to worry about. There are several tools and tricks that you can use to make sure that the OS runs efficiently and without filling your SSD (or indeed any other small storage device).

What You Need for a Slimline Windows 7 Installation

slim down windows 7


In order to create a version of Windows 7 that will fit on a smaller drive, you will need to download a copy of BuClean Suite, available from The computer you perform this task on may not be the same as the one you intend to install the shrunk-down Windows 7 onto – a small netbook, for instance, would be largely unsuitable. Note that BuClean Suite is also suitable for Windows Vista and Windows 8 (hence the Modern-style user interface).

This tool is used to configure a legal copy of Windows 7 (also required), enabling some UI tweaks and customizations, the removal of components that you might not use (such as voice commands) and event enabling an unattended installation (one that requires little or no interaction from the user).

slim down windows 7 install

Note, however, that it also requires the installation of Microsoft’s Windows Automated Installation Kit (AIK). This can be downloaded via the prompt that appears when you first run the downloaded and unzipped BuClean Suite.exe file.


Note that AIK is a 1.26 GB download, so configuration of your slimline Windows 7 installation will need to take place via a machine with plenty of storage space! Once AIK is downloaded and installed, BuClean Suite will be ready to install, and a second or two later, start.

Configuring Windows 7 for Your SSD

After running BuClean Suite, select the first option, 7Customizer, to begin configuring the installation. You will need your Windows 7 disc inserted in your DVD drive and an output source configured (disc or hard disk); BuClean Suite will ask for these locations.

In order to analyse and remove the unneeded items from the Windows 7 installation and make the operation suitable for installation on a smaller SSD, BuClean Suite will analyse the contents of your Windows 7 installation disc to your hard disk drive. This might take a while, so some patience/coffee is advised.

slim down windows 7 install


After this has been done, check the Components and Customizations boxes to activate the menus on the left. On the Remove Components tab you want to use work through the process as instructed by the wizard, adding and removing elements of Windows 7 as suitable until you get a slimmed-down version ready to be installed on your SSD.

You will then have the option to build an ISO for disc or opt for installation by USB using the ISO It and Flash It options.

A slimmed-down Windows 7 is then ready for installation! You’ll find it in a directory called Windows7Source on the device you indicated earlier.

Alternatives to BuClean Suite

BuClean Suite isn’t your only option for creating slimline installations of Windows 7.


Other utilities include:

Meanwhile further information on using BuClean Suite can be found at

Post-Installation Tips

Whether you have used the steps above for a new installation or your copy of Windows 7 is vying for space on your SSD with other files and folders, there are additional steps that can be taken post-installation.

slim down windows 7

If you have used the steps above, for instance, regular use of the CCleaner utility will keep Windows 7 compact and remove any unnecessary files that you have collected.

Meanwhile a directory tool such as WinDirStat can provide a graphical representation of what data is where on your SSD, enabling you to track down and remove unwanted information. In addition, you might disable System Restore and Hibernation.

One location that you should pay attention to regularly is C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution – this directory can be emptied periodically, saving space on your SSD.

What About Installing Programs?

How much you have managed to shave off your Windows 7 installation will depend on how much space you have left on your SSD.

Of course a certain amount of space will be required for installing other software applications (unless you’re planning to rely solely on the cloud) so you will need a few GB of storage left over. If this isn’t possible (you might have an 8 GB SSD) then the card slots on your device will come in very handy.

With a good quality SD card you will be able to expand the available storage on your netbook or computer. This enables your system disk to deal with the tasks of running Windows 7 while your applications and data are stored on removable storage that can be easily backed up.

Just remember to select the SD card drive letter when you’re installing new applications!

Conclusion: You Don’t Need Massive Storage To Run Windows 7!

As you can see, even if you have a massive SSD you don’t need to dedicate so much space to Windows 7. The operating system can be slimmed down to run on devices as small as 8 GB!

BuClean Suite is just one of several tools for installing Windows 7 on smaller storage devices, but remember that there are other steps you will need to take post-installation to keep the operating system compact and efficient. Use of CCleaner is particularly recommended.

That said, if you’re using a powerful laptop or desktop computer, a large SSD (separate from the system disk) is extremely useful for playing games and using data-intensive applications.

Image Credit: Solid State Drive via Shutterstock

Related topics: Solid State Drive, Windows 7.

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  1. Russ
    July 18, 2016 at 10:31 pm

    I created a slimmed-down install which removed language packs, aero themes, windows media player, XPS writer and tools, and a few other seemingly unimportant items. Ran into an issue where Java runtime library installs but does not work in a browser (IE or FIrefox). The plugin doesn't show up and Verify Java Version does not detect. All security settings seem correct. Any ideas on which components might affect this would be appreciated.

  2. Paul
    January 20, 2016 at 1:08 am

    Okay, I needed to customize a Dell OEM ISO so I can use a smaller SSD on my home theater PC.

    BuClean is obnoxious in its design. Unnecessary fades, unclear labels, and hasn't worked for me yet.

    7Lite won't run.

    NTLite wants to gouge me to do anything beyond 'remove notepad'.

    What happened to the good apps?

  3. BobKlahn
    May 8, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    I am running XP, going to Win 7 (planned) in the near future.

    To save space on XP I have followed a lot of the recommendations here, but here are two more.

    1: look at your programs and decide if you really do need them, if you really do use them.

    2: The most productive... don't depend on the cloud, depend on a second drive. Install portableapps software to replace as much as you can, and put them on a second drive. I go to for a lot of my software. That works just fine. Also, if you have the second drive, but your pagefile.sys on the second drive.

  4. qq
    December 5, 2012 at 2:34 am

    Does anyone know where bluclean extracts to when attempting to pull from a windows install disk? For some reason it crashes 90% through the process on my computer, but the files are now taking up space (my disk has gone from 16gb free, to 9, to 7). I would like to find these files and delete, but have no idea where they are stored and bluclean seems to have been programmed by non-native english speakers.

  5. Craig
    September 29, 2012 at 1:02 am


    Like all the MakeUseOf articles this is well-written, very completeIt and extremely useful.

    Just to make sure I ran this through my Kaspersky Internet Security and Emisoft AntiMalware and the "BuClean Suite.exe" file was clean.

    However, it would be useful for readers to receive some advice on the results obtained from VirusTotal:

    (1) Antiy-AVL found Trojan/Win32.Chifrax.gen
    (2) Jiangmin found TrojanDownloader.Adload.rxs
    (3) TrendMicro-HouseCall found TROJ_GEN.F47V0915



    • SMH
      February 2, 2018 at 2:36 pm

      MakeUseOf are noobs who are part of the online security problem, therefore.
      NO disclaimer in the article about the risks of this method, proves they are naive and driving people towards blindly-installing random software.
      They need to stop this ignorance. even over five years later, what are the odds that they continue to be ignorant? This stupidity is so rampant these days... smh

  6. Kevin
    September 21, 2012 at 7:43 am

    I think there is a pitfall here: the WinSxS directory. In Windows 7, the WinSxS directory holds almost all the files that make up Windows. The other Windows directory only hold links (Junction Points) to most of the files in Windows 7.

    This is insidious because Windows essentially never deletes old versions of DLLs. When you install the various Windows updates every Patch Tuesday, the previous versions stay around in the WinSxS directory - only the Junction Points are updated to point to the new version.

    Microsoft has no useful way to clean up old unused files in this directory.

    This is why a fresh version of Windows 7 is usually dramatically smaller than a version that has been running for a few years.

    • Christian Cawley
      September 21, 2012 at 7:44 am

      An extremely useful viewpoint, Kevin, thanks for sharing.

  7. Kp Rao
    September 17, 2012 at 11:20 pm

    thank you

  8. druv vb
    September 17, 2012 at 9:16 am

    I remember doing that with Windows XP installation using nLite, because hard disk space was limited back then. Nowadays with greater storage, I don't need to slim down Windows 7. And to keep things efficient, I re-install the OS every year.

  9. Muhammad Ahmad
    September 16, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    Really informative and new article for me.

  10. cicekci
    September 15, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Thank you sharing

  11. venkatp16
    September 15, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    wow.. this looks very simple, let me give it a try on my 16GB USB device.

  12. GrrGrrr
    September 15, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    This is something very useful & interesting even though I don't have a SSD.
    But it should help me put a Win7 on my USB.

    Could you please tell me if it allows creating a USB bootable Windows7 also?

  13. Timothy Liem
    September 15, 2012 at 9:25 am

    I have my Ubuntu run on 2 GB of storage (UFD) :D

  14. Robert Ruedisueli
    September 15, 2012 at 8:26 am

    Creating a striped install is great on any OS.

    It can drastically reduce the size, let you preinstall the drivers you want, preinstall all the updates and preinstall a lot of the software you want so the install is cleaner, easier and takes up less space.

  15. salvador hernandez
    September 15, 2012 at 5:26 am

    I will have to refer back to this when I swap out my HDD to my SSD. Thanks.

    • Robert Ruedisueli
      September 15, 2012 at 8:29 am

      I generally prefer having both a HDD and SDD on a desktop.

      Of course, on a laptop, you do not always have this option, unless you have a spare MiniPCIExpress slot or want to replace the optical drive, you usually have to settle for just one or the other.

      • Jacob Twitchel
        September 15, 2012 at 3:40 pm

        Yeah I also prefer to have an SSD and HDD. One for speed and one for storage. I have a 128 GB SSD and I am soon going to add 2 or 4 3 TB HDD for extra storage + a RAID array to back up my data.

  16. Jim Spencer
    September 15, 2012 at 3:43 am

    After reading this article, I surveyed my own Windows 7 installation, and while I have not pared it down to a "need" of only 8GB of hard drive, it behooves everyone to look at just how much "junk" we all collect along the way! Thanks Guys! A great post!