Free up drive space in Windows

The space required to complete a feature update depends on two factors: which update path is followed and the size of optional content and other updates that apply to your PC when the feature update is installed.

Windows follows three different feature update paths, depending on the amount of disk space currently available.

  1. For PCs with plenty of free disk space Windows automatically tries to complete more of the update process in the background while you use your PC. This significantly reduces the time your PC will be offline (or unusable) during the update, although it might temporarily use more disk space to complete the update. Learn more about our efforts to reduce offline time during updates (English only at this time).

  2. For PCs with limited free space but still enough to complete the update automatically Windows will automatically optimize for reducing the amount of free disk space required to install the update. This will result in a longer offline install time.

  3. For PCs that don’t have enough space to automatically install the update Windows will prompt you to free up disk space or use external storage to temporarily extend the storage on your PC. If you use an external storage device, Windows won’t need as much free space on the system drive as it temporarily uses your external storage.

Across each of these update paths, the total amount of free disk space required will vary, depending on the optional content installed and other updates that apply to your PC. For example:

  • Optional features. Many optional features available for Windows are pre-installed or acquired on demand by the system, or manually by you. You can see which ones are installed on your PC by going to Start > Settings > Apps > Optional features.Open Optional features settings These features range in size from less than 1 MB to almost 2 GB for the Windows Mixed Reality portal. You can reduce the amount of space required to install a feature update on your PC by uninstalling optional features you aren’t using.

  • Languages installed. Windows is localized into many languages. Although many people only use one language at a time, some people switch between two or more languages. You can see which languages are installed on your PC by selecting Start > Settings > Time & language > Language & region .Open Language settings During each update, all language resources and any associated typing, text-to-speech, speech-to-text, and handwriting recognition resources must be updated. The content for each language can range from about 175 MB to more than 300 MB. You can reduce the amount of space required to install a feature update on your PC by uninstalling languages you aren’t using.

  • Driver updates. OEMs and other hardware partners sometimes publish new graphics, networking, audio, and other drivers in conjunction with the new OS update. The size of these drivers can vary significantly, depending on your PC and on which drivers have been updated.

  • OS quality updates. During a feature update, Windows tries to download and automatically install the latest quality update so that your PC is fully up to date when you start using it. Shortly after the feature update is released, the quality update for that feature update could be as small as a few hundred MB, but as more quality and security changes are implemented, the quality update can increase in size to 1 GB or more. If your PC is short on disk space, you can download and install the quality update after the feature update is complete.

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Finally, Windows Update will temporarily disable hiberfile.sys, pagefile.sys, and other system files in order to use the space these files typically consume to apply the feature update. Any files that are disabled to apply the update will be automatically re-enabled when the update is complete. Because these files vary in size depending on how you use your PC and the amount of RAM your PC has, even in cases where two different PCs have the exact same OS image, the amount of free disk space required to complete an update may vary.

The combination of update path and features means there’s a wide range of free disk space required to complete an update. Here are a few examples for PCs updating to Windows 10 version 1803:

Optimized for reduced offline time

Optimized for minimal disk space

Optimized for minimal disk space with external storage

Minimal optional features, languages, and updates

20 GB

5.5 GB+

4.5 GB+

Lots of optional features, languages, and updates

20 GB+

13.75 GB+

7 GB+