Reduce Windows 7 OS Size

Tags:
all versions reduce 32 bit optimize Windows 7 RT 7 Lite Hard Drives SSD advanced 64 bit Tutorial
ilikerhinos
By See all their Tutorials
Windows 7 - Reduce OS Installation Size (all editions, 32/64 bit)

There are many tutorials out there, some even for RT 7 Lite. Many are forum posts and disorganized, or lack important details. Heard of nLite for slip-streaming Windows XP? For Windows Vista there's vLite. This guide isn't your basic recycle bin properties, system cache, disable hibernation, and [fill in others] tweaks. Oh no, this is far less!

Windows 7 only takes up 3.8GB total on my SSD, RAM around 350MB, and can cold boot around 10 seconds. Total clean install time is under 10 minutes. Is this a lie? Absolutely not, please keep reading. (With much more advanced tweaking I'll be skipping due to user-specific tweaks, my record install is shy over 2.3GB used disk space.)

If you're like me still rocking that 32GB or 60GB SSD, this tutorial may be of great interest. Today's SSD price per GB has dropped significantly since the initial consumer SSD line. While it's easier for many to just buy a larger SSD, where's the fun in that?

Windows 7 on a fresh install is roughly 18GB. On a 32GB SSD on netbooks, laptops, or SSD as a boot drive, that's unacceptable. Your beautiful SSD just got 'Windowed'. After trial and error, countless hours on Googling, and now over a year steady on the same Windows 7 Home Premium (64 bit) ISO, I've finally decided to provide an alternative.

If you choose to follow this tutorial, it is advanced, although this tutorial will spoon-feed the entire way. No you will not 'brick' your device, however, the default 'I do not take responsibility for your actions' apply. Everything will have as much detail as possible.

Software needed: Windows 7 ISO (any version, 32 or 64 bit), Windows 7 USB Tool, RT 7 Lite (32 bit & 64 bit), CCleaner, Microsoft Updates (kernel and usermode), and a registry file I've put together with explanations included. To view the registry file contents, download to desktop, right click, and select Edit.

Download all the software, and have the Windows 7 ISO located on the desktop. It's important to keep these files on the desktop to find it easier, later in the tutorial. Images will have their descriptions located above. Categories will be named after the tabs on the left column in RT 7 Lite.


PART 1

NOTE: RT 7 Lite may or may not show a Script Error, if it does, click 'Yes' both times. If you click 'No' any changes you make will not be kept. Each time you click 'Apply' you'll have to back to the previous tab.



HOME
Run RT 7 Lite, set priority to 'High' on the right, click Browse, and Select ISO file. You can also use your install disk, but if it isn't from Microsoft (i.e. Dell, HP, Acer, etc.) there is a great chance it has bloatware that could potentially carry over.

The program will prompt you to select an edition. Select whichever you have a product key for. Navigate to your desktop, and select it. This will take anywhere from a few minutes to thirty minutes depending on your computers hardware. When the ISO is loading, it'll ask you to save to a folder, name it Windows7 and click ok.



TASK
When everything is loaded and completed, click 'Task' on the left column. Where it says 'Quick Start' select 'Advanced' and then click 'Integration' on the left column.



INTEGRATION
Click the 'Drivers' tab, click 'Printer' and click 'Remove' wait for it to disappear and click 'Apply' only if you do not use a printer. If you do own a printer, or plan to own a printer in the future, keep this.



Under the Updates tab, we will select the kernel and usermode driver updates we downloaded from Microsoft earlier. Select them one at a time in this order:kernelmode and then usermode. Click Apply.




FEATURES
On left column, click 'Features Removal.' On the right under 'Default features', uncheck Games, Tablet PC Components, and XPS Services/Viewer. Expand Media Features and uncheck Windows DVD Maker and Windows Media Center. Expand Print and Document Services and uncheck Windows Fax and Scan. Click 'Apply'.



If you want to get rid of Gadgets, make sure the Windows Sidebar is UNCHECKED at this point, and click Apply to whatever you were working on. Click on the Customization tab, then the Gadgets tab, select all, click Remove, wait till it's finished, and click Apply. Go back to Features tab, and now CHECK the Windows Sidebar for removal, and you can now continue where you left off.



Features Explanations:
*1394 Driver is for firewire. If you don't use firewire/thunderbolt, safe to remove.
*Display, keep the Standard VGA or your display won't show at all.
*Media-audio. Keep the HD Audio default driver. Can install your sound card driver later on manually if needed.
*1394 Desktop Camera is for USB webcams.
*Afa Techologies, old stuff carried from Windows XP/Vista.
*ATI Technologies, Aver Media, Conexant, Happauge, Luminate-Angel, and ViXS. All are TV tuners. If you don't control your PC like a HTPC via remote control or Infra-Red, safe to remove.


*IEEE 1934 DV Camera and Tape Subunit Devices. Safe to remove, DV camera is an AV controller for recording TV. Tape *Subunit devices are for connecting to old and antique tape drives. Think of VCR, nobody uses them. Newegg doesn't even have them.
*Windows Sideshow, used for connecting to external monitors. If you have a desktop it's safe to remove, as your motherboard/GPU can still connect flawlessly. Using a laptop with an external monitor/TV, you'll want to keep this, and the Windows Sideshow driver above in 'Accessories'.
*Modem, remove everything. If you don't use an old 56k modem card with your laptop, safe to remove. Connecting to a wifi or hotspot network still works perfectly as it uses your wireless card.


*Network, remove all but AIO Network Driver (Global Driver). Breaks wireless connectivity. If you use a desktop always connected via ethernet, this is safe to remove.
*Printers / Scanners. If you don't use either, and don't ever plan to, safe to remove. If you do use a printer/scanner, find your printer/scanner brand, and uncheck them accordingly. If it is not present, uncheck the Microsoft brand in printers/scanners as it acts like a 'global' driver, allowing you to install your printers driver without error. Tested with HP and Cannon combo printers.
*TV Tuners, check all if you don't use your computer to change channels or record TV.


*Digital Media Devices, honestly have no idea, but digital cameras, USB, optical disks, all still works for me. I believe it to be for old PS/2 keyboard/mouse connections.
*Diva Client, used for connecting to the internet from the XP days via dial-up. System tray will not be affected.
*Fax, Floppy Driver, and Smart Card Drivers. If you still fax like it's the '90s, you may want to consider just scanning and emailing. Safe to remove all three. Floppy is the little plastic square we all used to fling across the room when nobody looked, don't deny it we all took part.. Smart Card drivers, if you have an Intel NUC, or Go-Pro, keep it. SD card adapter to USB 3.0 are available for around $10, and if you use one, this is safe to remove.
*Language Packs, if your native language is English, check all of these, if not, check all of these and uncheck your native language. Breaks automatic language installation, you'll have to install future language packs manually. Safe to remove.


*Multi-Media, safe to remove sample music, videos, pictures, screensavers.
*Sound recorder is safe to remove if you don't record your voice singing opera or whatever your style is.
*Windows Aero themes is safe to remove, but isn't worth the hassle of manually enabling Aero later on.
*Windows DVD maker is safe to remove. Windows ISO Burn is used for burning data to disks, and works without Windows DVD maker.
*Windows Media Center, mostly used in HTPC, there's alternatives such as Kodi that are superior.
*Windows Picture acquisition automatically syncs pictures from a device to the folder you store pictures.
*Windows Sounds, safe to remove, audio still works. Windows Wallpapers, safe to remove, saves about 20mb disk space, although a default black background will be the only background until you choose another.


*Network, IIS, Remote Desktop and Assistance, Remote Desktop Connection, TCP/IP applications, Telnet Client/Server, *Windows Mail. All safe to remove.
*Internet Information Service (IIS) is for web servers.
*Removing the remote desktops doesn't actually break it completely. It's somewhat baked in to Windows 7. Sharing screens on skype will work, TightVNC, TeamViewer and the likes will all still work.
*TCP/IP. Windows time still works, connecting to any website still works, safe to remove.
Telnet client/server, safe to remove. Windows Mail is for outlook, if you use a browser for email, remove this.


*Services. Safe to remove many of these. Everything has been working without a hitch since day one. Use your own judgement when removing services. If in doubt, don't remove it.
Here is what I've removed: ActiveX Installer, Adaptive Brightness, Application Experience/Identity, Application Layer Gateway Service, BitLocker Drive Encryption Service, Block Level Backup Engine, Certificate Propagation, Computer Browser, Credential Manager, Disk Defragmenter, Encrypting File System, Fax, Health Key and Certificate Management, IKE and AuthIP IPsec Keying Modules, KtmRM for Distributed Transaction Coordinator, Media Center Extender, Microsoft iSCSI (for very old HDD, newegg doesn't even have them), Netlogon, Parental Controls, Print Spooler, Protected Storage, Quality Windows Audio/Video, Remote Access Auto Connection, Remote Access Connection, Remote Desktop Configuration, Remote Desktop Services, RPC Locator, Remote Registry, Routing and Remote Access, Secure Socket Tuneling Protocol, Server, Smart Card, Smart Card removal policy, SNMP Trap, Superfetch (for HDD, keep this), Tablet PC Input, TPM Base services, Volume Shadow Copy, Webclient, Windows Backup, Windows Biometric, Windows Card Space, Windows Connect Now, Windows Defender (use a good anti-virus or anti-malware program), Windows Error Reporting, Windows image Acquisition, Windows Media Center Receiver/Scheduler, Windows Media Player Network Sharing, Windows Phone Dialer, WinHTTP Web Proxy Auto-Discovery, WWAN AutoConfig.

*System, safe to remove some things. For largest space saving, check Manual windows setup (windows install still works), Natural Language (used by windows search, you'll not notice any difference, and search still works), Recovery, Windows Easy Transfer, Tablet PC, Windows Cache Files (winsxs cleanup), and Windows Help.
My list also includes Location and Mobile PC Sensor, Microsoft Sync Center, Narrator, On Screen Keyboard, SQL Client Configuration Utility, System Restore, Workspace Runtime, and XPS Viewer. So far removing all the listed System modules, I've ran into zero problems.

NOTE: When clicking Windows Cache Files (winsxs) you'll want to click 'No' because cleaning up the .NET Framework WILL break the install.


When you're all finished selecting which features and components to remove, click Apply. Remember if that error message pops up, click Yes both times.


TWEAKS
Click Tweaks on the left column. In the Control panel tab, everything should say default, and the control panel view category.



On the Desktop tab, make sure everything isn't bold, i.e. default settings. Same with task bar.



For Explorer tab, everything will be default. (My preference is under the 'My Computer' to enable the following: Device Manager, MS-Config, Services, Registry Editor.



Under the Security tab, User account control will be default and Windows firewall will show Enable.

Now go to the Services tab, if you want to make any changes there. I'd recommend leaving everything at default unless you know what you're doing.Personally my preferance is to disable the following: Bluetooth support, HomeGroup Listener/Provider, Security Center, Windows Search, and Windows Update.

Click the System tab, and set almost everything to default. The only ones here that are disabled will be 'hibernation' and 'low disk space warning'.

Under Visual effects tab, everything will be default.

The Internet explorer tab will also have all default settings.

Media center tab will all be greyed out by default if it was chosen earlier for removal.

In the Custom registry tab, click Browse, and select the registry file if you have an SSD. If you use a HDD, skip this. The registry file makes some menus that are no longer accessible to be hidden, optimizes start menu (cleaner looking) and saves lots of time searching the registry to disable/enable things to speed up Windows 7 a bit. Once finished with the Tweaks, click Apply.



CUSTOMIZATION
At the Customization tab, under Screensaver, remove all the screensavers.


Go to the Themes tab, select all but 'aero.theme' as it's the default windows theme, remove the rest. Here you can also select a color for the windows frame, the default is Sky.



Select the Wallpaper tab, and set the Desktop Wallpaper position to 'Fill'.


Now go to Sample musics tab, and remove all of these, and click Apply.




UN-ATTENDED
Go to Un-Attended, and under the General tab, DO NOT FILL IN PRODUCT KEY! This will break the install, good key or not.
Check the following: Skip product key, skip auto activation, Accept EULA, and Select this version on startup. If you use Windows Ultimate, leave the last unchecked.


In the OOBE tab, check Hide EULA, hide wireless setup, set the network location to Home, and set protect your computer (windows update) to 'do not install selective updates'.


Go to the Regional tab, and adjust the defaults accordingly, then click Apply.



LOG
Before you start, set the priority to 'High' and click Commit. Wait until it says Completed, on SSD can take 15-30 minutes, and HDD around 60 minutes.



ISO-BOOTABLE
Click ISO-Bootable tab on the left, and select mode 'create image' and under 'volume name' name your ISO. My naming scheme is Win7HP64L (Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit Lite). Click Make ISO. A Save As window will pop up, this will be where you save the newly created ISO. Name it the same as whatever the 'volume name' is. Click Save, wait till the loading bar completes, and click Finish.




Congratulations! Your new slim Windows 7 ISO is now completed! Use Windows 7 USB Tool to create your bootable USB. If you'd like to test in a VM, VirtualBox is a great option.


PART 2
*FIRST INSTALL GUIDE*
After you've installed Windows 7, and are greeted at the first desktop, go to Start, type 'msconfig' and hit enter. Check 'No GUI Boot' to save a little time by skipping the Windows 7 animated logo on every startup.


Right click on Recycle bin, select Properties. Click the 'Don't move files..' and hit Apply, then Ok. If you want the recycle bin, you can save space by limiting it to 250MB or so.


Go to Start menu, search, type 'view advanced system properties' and hit enter. Click 'Settings' under the Advanced tab, Startup and Recovery. Uncheck time to display list of operating systems. This is useful if you dual-boot and normally boot into Windows.


Turn Windows 7 Features on/off by going to Start, search, type 'turn features' and press enter. Once finished selecting what you'd like turned off, click OK, and restart the computer.


Time to install CCleaner. Once that's finished, run the Registry cleaning, no need for backups. It'll save roughly 100MB disk space. It's a nice idea to set CCleaner to NOT automatically start or constantly monitor your computer. Here's some optimized settings:





Some software I recommend is Malwarebytes (excellent anti-malware), Microsoft Security Essentials (good, free anti-virus), and the latest Microsoft .NET Framework. The most recent .NET wlll be the first listed under '.NET Framework Downloads'.

PART 3
*HARDWARE TESTS*
A list of laptops that myself, a relative, or close friend have tested for 30-90 days, with general to advanced use.
This includes general browsing, video converting, photoshop, java compiling, etc.
Laptops - Brand, Model, Year Released
IBM ThinkPad T20 2647, 2001 (ran way too slow to be usable)
HP Compaq nx9600, 2005
Dell Inspiron 1501, 2006
Dell XPS M1210, 2006
Asus X83VM-X1, 2008
Lenovo 3000 Y500, 2007
Acer Aspire 6920, 2008
Sony Vaio VGN-NW270F/S, 2009
HP G62t, 2010
Sony Vaio VPCZ122GX, 2010
Asus A75VM-TB71, 2011
Alienware M14x, 2012
Microsoft Surface, 2012
Apple MacBook Pro 13", 2013 (friend dual-booted, still uses it)
Acer Aspire E1-572, 2013
MSI GS60, 2014
Asus ZenBook UX305, 2015
Samsung Chromebook 2, 2015

All the laptops hardware tested as OEM, and then, if possible, the HDD was swapped to Seagate ST1000LM024, and then the Corsair SSD.
This was for testing that the laptops tested would indeed boot with the modified Windows 7 ISO.
Tested Windows 7 Starter, Home Premium, Pro, Ultimate, and 32/64 bit where applicable.

Desktops tested include a mix of AMD/Intel, and various motherboards.
Every desktop had a dedicated GPU of various brands.
Similar specs across all desktops: 3GB & 4GB RAM (2x1GB & 2x2GB), Corsair SSD, Seagate HDD
Desktop 1- AMD E-450, Sapphire Pure Mini E450
Desktop 2- AMD Athalon X2 340, ASRock FM2A68M-DG3+
Desktop 3- AMD 5350, Asus AM1i-A
Desktop 4- AMD A6-5400K, Gigabyte GA-F2A78M-HD2
Desktop 5- AMD FX-8320, Biostar
Desktop 6- Intel Pentium E6500, Intel DG41RQ
Desktop 7- Intel C2D E6700, Asus P5QPL-AM
Desktop 8- Intel C2Q Q8400, Gigabyte GA-G41MT-S2PT
Desktop 9- Intel i7 970, ASRock X58 Extreme
Desktop 10- Intel i7 4790, MSI H97M-G43

Benchmark software used are BootTimer and CrystalDisk.


PART 4
*RESULTS*
Results for both laptops and desktops.
A fresh install size remained very similar, 3.5-3.8GB.
Boot times for HDD varied from 25-90 seconds. Average was 32 seconds. The IBM from 2001 taking nearly four minutes.
Boot times for SSD ranged from 8-14 seconds. Average was 12 seconds.
RAM usage was from 270-350MB. Average RAM used was 310MB with only Task Manager open. The IBM from 2001 used all 128MB, and used the HDD as swap.

Disk, RAM, CPU usage idle for one minute.




Thanks for reading my first tutorial on Tomshardware! Will do my best to answer questions and update this post as needed.