How to upgrade tablets and devices with little free disk space or small hard drives (32 GB or less)

Can Windows 10 be installed on devices with 32 GB or less of hard drive space, and what should I know about installing on these kind of devices?


Yes! Tablets and other devices with little hard drive space can be upgraded to Windows 10.  We want to give everyone a great upgrade experience, so we are rolling out downloads in an organized way to manage the high demand.  As part of this rollout, if you purchased a new Windows 8.1 device with 32 GB or less of hard drive space, these devices will not see an upgrade notification until at least August 4th. If you don’t want to wait until then, you can choose to upgrade to Windows 10 using installation media from the Windows 10 media creation tool.

Once you are notified your download is ready, or begin installing Windows 10 from media, setup will first perform a compatibility check to see if you have enough disk space.  If you don’t, you’ll see the message, “Windows needs more space”, informing you how much space you need to have available and providing several options for installing Windows.

The fastest method is to free up the specified amount of disk space on the hard drive, either manually and/or by using Disk Cleanup.  Allow yourself a little extra space beyond what is specified so that required updates can install during setup. 

If your device allows it, you will also have the option to install Windows by using an external drive.  We recommend using a USB drive for this option.  Keep in mind that laptops and tablets must be plugged into a power source during the upgrade.  If you only have one Micro-USB port, which you need to power the device, then you won’t be able to use USB storage, but you may use an SD card for this option on most systems.

Some important points to remember if you choose to use an external storage drive for installing Windows 10:

  • We recommend that the external drive is formatted in NTFS.  Drives that are formatted in FAT32 may run into errors due to FAT32 file size limitations.  To learn how to format in NTFS, click here.

  • USB drives are preferred over SD cards because drivers for SD cards are not migrated if the device does not support Connected Standby.

If you chose not to use an external drive, you may notice that you have very little free space after upgrading.  This is because your previous version of Windows is still on your hard disk.  If you do nothing, the old version of Windows will be deleted automatically in a month to free up the extra space.  You may choose not to wait and recover this space immediately, but if you do, you will not be able to use the “Go Back” feature to uninstall Windows 10 and return to your previous version.  To free up this additional space immediately:

  1. Open Settings, and then select System and then Storage.

  2. Select your system drive (normally the C: drive).

  3. Select Temporary files.

Under Previous version of Windows, select Delete previous versions.

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Question Info

Last updated July 2, 2021 Views 36,997 Applies to: