Small, compact and cost effective laptops have been around for some time, commanding the £200-£300 price range. Most manufacturers have a number of these notebooks, either with Windows 10 or ChromeOS (referred to as ChromeBooks) and they usually sit side by side with each other and have very similar specifications.

32GB hard disk drives. We are mainly concerned here with Windows 10’s ability to operate and update on such a small drive and offer a note of caution on their purchase. We have experienced a number of issues with these machines and if you are short of time we would simply recommend you choose a model with 64GB or more. For those who are looking into one of these machines, it would be wise to consider our pointers below;

For this article we are focusing on those laptops using Windows 10, specifically those with

Issue 1 – Definition

Almost all manufacturers of hard disk drives today define a gigabyte (GB) as 1000 megabytes and not, as it should be, 1024 megabytes. Once this is taken into account, your 32GB hard disk drive will only be 30.5GB. While this does apply to all hard disk drives, it becomes more of an issue when space is tight.

Issue 2 – System Requirements

Microsoft’s system requirements for Windows 10 64-bit suggest 20GB of available space to install and operate the operating system. Using this 20GB figure as a rough guide (many Windows folders will be much larger), you still need to factor in space on top for any applications, files or updates that you may require. For example, if you simply want to install Microsoft Office, for the authoring of letters, spreadsheets, etc, Microsoft’s requirements state that the installation needs 3GB. Adding to that your printer software, anti-virus, additional web browsers, the 30GB of space available starts to become very squeezed. Just simply turning the machine on and adding your favourite programs could leave you with only 5GB of storage space for your files.

Issue 3 – Windows Updates

The real elephant in the room and what is becoming a major sticking point for most users is the Windows Update process. Microsoft releases Windows updates on a monthly basis and, as of Windows 10, they provide larger feature updates on a 6-12 month basis. While the smaller monthly updates can mount up and consume a fair amount of disk space alone, these larger feature updates prove to be the real issue.

There are two main problems with these feature updates. Primarily, they are usually huge. The most recent feature update, the Fall Creators Update, was over 4GB to download. In addition to this, to allow users to roll back these larger updates, the process copies the older Windows directory and a number of other files to a temporary location in case of problems. Due to this, the updates will often require more than 8GB of space before they will even start. Bearing in mind what we discussed before, Windows and our programs could, at a minimum, consume about 25GB of our 30.5 GB and the tiny drive is really going to struggle. Laptops can become really irksome when they load to a screen requesting you to update, only to be told there isn’t enough space!

The inability to update to these newer releases become a major issue the longer they are left. Microsoft’s primary support cycle for each release of Windows 10 is only around three years. If you are stuck without the space to upgrade, after three years the version of Windows will become less secure and you’ll miss out on any new features and fixes.

Issue 4 – Upgradeability

In short, the majority of 32GB machines will usually have their hard drives physically soldered onto the motherboard, upgrading them is not an option. To combat this issue, the manufacturers often add memory card and USB slots that will allow you to add additional storage space for files, but these will not help to upgrade the size of the primary hard disk.

In summary, we would recommend that anyone seriously looking at a machine in this range to seriously look to buy a 64GB variant and steer clear of any of the machines limited to 32GB.

Special thanks to Photo by Picsaf Com from Pexels