Dell recommends Windows 8.

Reduce the Windows 8 Footprint for VDI

Brien Posey, Freelance Writer and Former CIO | 9/5/2013 | 10 comments

Brien Posey
One of the main benefits of virtual desktop infrastructure is the ability to run many virtual machines on a single host, making the most efficient possible use of the resources available. Although VDI administrators often focus on memory, CPU, and disk I/O consumption, it is also important to take measures to reduce your desktop operating system's footprint on the host server.

To the best of my knowledge, there is no such thing as an official Microsoft-approved method for minimizing Windows 8's footprint. Part of the reason for this is probably that every organization's needs are unique, and some organizations may require features that other organizations might disable to save space. As such, you should use the techniques that are the most appropriate for your organization.

Hibernation
One of the easiest ways to reduce Windows 8's footprint is to disable hibernation. That's because when Windows goes into hibernation, the operating system captures the state of your current session and writes it to a file called hiberfil.sys. This file is the same size as the system memory. For example, if a virtual machine were allocated 2 GB of RAM, then the hiberfile.sys file should also be 2 GB.

Every VDI environment is different, but there isn't typically a need to leave hibernation enabled. If you do decide to disable hibernation, you can do so by opening an elevated command prompt window and entering the following command:

    Powercfg –h off

Once you have disabled hibernation, you can delete the hiberfile.sys file from the root directory. If you try to remove this file without first running the command shown above, the hiberfile.sys file will reappear the first time that hibernation is used. If you are having difficulty running the command due to permissions problems, make sure that you are running the command from an elevated command prompt window.

The Pagefile
Another way to reduce the Windows 8 footprint is by disabling virtual memory usage and then deleting the Pagefile.sys file. Although this technique does work, my advice is to use this only as a last resort.

The Pagefile.sys file exists to make up for shortages of physical memory. In a VDI environment, memory is often more of a limiting factor than disk capacity. As such, removing the Pagefile.sys file can be counterproductive.

If you do decide to remove the Pagefile, you can do so by right-clicking on the Start tile and then right-clicking on the System command found on the resulting menu. When the System dialogue box appears, click on Advanced System Settings. When you do, the System Properties sheet will appear. Click the Settings button found in the Performance section. When the Performance Options dialogue box appears, select the Advanced tab and then click the Change button.

Check the DriverStore
Another way you may be able to reduce the Windows 8 footprint is by getting rid of any unnecessary driver collections. Even a clean Windows 8 installation might have driver collections that are unnecessary. For example, Windows 8 includes its own printer drivers, yet many organizations prefer to use printer drivers that are supplied by the printer manufacturer. In those types of situations, you can delete the default printer driver collections.

There is a CodePlex tool called Driver Store Explorer that's helpful for identifying your drivers. The tool was developed for Windows 7, but it works fine with Windows 8 so long as you run it with administrative privileges.

Disable System Protection
Windows 8 includes a system protection feature that can be used to revert the system back to an earlier point in time. One of the best ways to reduce the operating system's footprint is to disable System Protection.

To do so, right-click on the Start tile, and then right-click on System. When the System dialogue box appears, click System Protection. You can use the resulting interface to disable System Protection.

As you can see, there are a number of things that you can do to reduce Windows 8's footprint. Although this article is by no means a comprehensive collection of footprint reducing techniques, they should go a long way toward helping you to reduce Windows 8's size. Some other steps that you might be able to use include verifying that the File History feature is turned off and decreasing the size of the browser cache.

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View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
batye   Reduce the Windows 8 Footprint for VDI   5/6/2014 12:38:26 AM
Re: Virtual Desktops
I have same problem with my Acer Android 8GB tablet... and I put 32gb micro sd card... but Apps want to use 8GB tablet storage... unless I unlock the tablet and setup 32gb micro sd  as main storage... but if I do it... it will void my tablet warranty... I see no solution:(
batye   Reduce the Windows 8 Footprint for VDI   5/6/2014 12:35:32 AM
Re: Virtual Desktops
I still use two of my laptops with 64gb ssd drives running Win 7 Home... it ok as long as I remember do not download anything and only must have security patches/updates... but some of my customers ever with 1TB laptop drives running out of space...
batye   Reduce the Windows 8 Footprint for VDI   5/6/2014 12:33:16 AM
Re: Virtual Desktops
yes, as this days everyone changing towards SD/micro sd 64GB  and 128GB usb sticks... I did see 128GB usb sticks on Amazon under $40 USA... but quality??? if your data will be safe...
Skr2011   Reduce the Windows 8 Footprint for VDI   2/26/2014 1:42:04 PM
Re: Virtual Desktops
Resources always seem abundant until they run out....
Skr2011   Reduce the Windows 8 Footprint for VDI   2/26/2014 1:40:53 PM
Re: Virtual Desktops
8GB won't get you anywhere, anymore.
J-Lo   Reduce the Windows 8 Footprint for VDI   11/13/2013 9:02:39 AM
Re: Virtual Desktops
Tuscany, at personal level we are generating big data which has increased our storage needs. The file formats have changed from xlx and doc to mp3, mp4 etc. With higher MP cameras, raw images and jpg file sizes have increased. This is why we need more storage space as we are not storing documents alone.
Tuscany   Reduce the Windows 8 Footprint for VDI   10/27/2013 9:10:47 PM
Re: Virtual Desktops
@J-Lo   Yes it is odd, that the more storage we have, the more we use.  I have a tablet which had about 8G, used 3G for the OS alone - take a few pictures, download some apps and a few more small movies and all of the sudden I am looking for and buying a micro-SD card to recoup the space lost.
J-Lo   Reduce the Windows 8 Footprint for VDI   10/19/2013 10:04:18 AM
Re: Virtual Desktops
My first laptop had 40Gb of hard drive and at that time it seemed big enough for my requirements. Gradually storage requirements increased as now its not just word and excel files that we need to store. Now my Mac has 750Gb of hard drive which too is not enough. I have to constantly take back up in 1 Tb and 500Gb back up drive for different sets of my storage needs.
Tuscany   Reduce the Windows 8 Footprint for VDI   9/28/2013 11:23:58 PM
Re: Virtual Desktops
Thanks Brien for some great insight into reducing windows 8's footprint.  Though I am not even really sure why I would want to do this.

There must be some inherent VDI issues with Windows 8 that I am not aware of.
Zaius   Reduce the Windows 8 Footprint for VDI   9/14/2013 9:43:24 AM
Virtual Desktops
Thank you for sharing the tips. The resources may seem more than enough at first, but soon it runs out. As we used to think that we have a too big HDD in our laptops when we bought one 7-8 years ago. Soon, we filled a a good part of it and wished if we had more storage. 

The VDI is a powerful yet efficient way, and it offers a much better use of resources that an enterprise have.


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