Microsoft offers info on usable storage space on Surface

Microsoft's new Surface tablets come in 32 GB and 64 GB versions. But just how much of that storage space is actually available by its owners for their own use? Microsoft has now answered that question with a new FAQ page on the official Surface website.

The FAQ page has Microsoft admitting that "Some of the Surface disk space is used by built-in apps and by the Windows features that can help you protect and recover the stuff you store on your Surface." Overall the 32 GB version of the Surface has about 16 GB available for its users after those apps are taken into consideration. The 64 GB version has 46 GB of free storage space.

Microsoft says that both versions of the Surface have 5 GB of storage space tied up with "Windows recovery tools" and another 8 GB for "Windows RT, Microsoft Office, and built-in apps."

Of course, unlike certain other tablets on the market, the Surface has multiple options in terms of adding storage space. It has a MicroSD card slot that allows for memory cards up to 64 GB. The full USB 2.0 port allows for even more storage space via Flash drives and portable hard drives. Microsoft also counts its SkyDrive cloud service as an additional storage option for the tablet.

Source: Surface website

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Anyone with SurfaceRT can see if there are hiberfil.sys and pagefil.sys? Both files are in any Windows and can take 3Gb easily.

LOL the tablet is useless when you buy it since it eats too much storage space. If RT uses 16GB with bloatware, I wonder how much will PRO uses with bloatware.

Probably that's why it never have a 16GB because there's no room for all the bloatware that it ships with.

And probably it ships with a SD slot since with those bloatware preinstalled, you'll run out of storage space so quickly.

Surface, what a joke.

I didn't even think about this until last night when I added a few albums and family photos and I noticed I was at 4 gig free of space. I've had it only a few days.

If I am not mistaken, at the moment, XBOX Music, Pictures, Videos do not automatically see data on the MicroSD card...

Garak0410 said,
If I am not mistaken, at the moment, XBOX Music, Pictures, Videos do not automatically see data on the MicroSD card...

You have to move your library folders to them first. Format the SD card as NTFS, then find the My Music, My Videos, etc directories, right click on them, Properties, Location (tab) and click Move

Sraf said,

You have to move your library folders to them first. Format the SD card as NTFS, then find the My Music, My Videos, etc directories, right click on them, Properties, Location (tab) and click Move

Thanks for the tip...I am still trying to transition from my Zune to XBOX music, so saving this tip. There are still a lot of unanswered questions about XBOX Music before I can finally say sad goodbye to my Zune.

Garak0410 said,

Thanks for the tip...I am still trying to transition from my Zune to XBOX music, so saving this tip. There are still a lot of unanswered questions about XBOX Music before I can finally say sad goodbye to my Zune.

One other thing, in the Xbox music app on the tablet, once you have this all setup, pull up the app preferences (charms, settings, preferences) while connected to the web, and select the Download songs that were downloaded on other devices option (set to on) this is a one click way to mirror your Zune Pass collection onto the tablet

It can be me, but on my 32GB model, I've 21 GB free storage if I count the 8GB extra the File Explorer displays. At 64GB, I've 52 GB free space. Anyway, doesn't matter with an extra 64GB card and 25GB SkyDrive .

And yes, I've 2 Surfaces.

Studio384 said,
It can be me, but on my 32GB model, I've 21 GB free storage if I count the 8GB extra the File Explorer displays. At 64GB, I've 52 GB free space. Anyway, doesn't matter with an extra 64GB card and 25GB SkyDrive .

And yes, I've 2 Surfaces.

take a screen shot to put it to rest. i don't own one but i am curios as to whats the real deal.

This is a bit silly when there is far more storage and storage options with the Surface or any Windows RT or Windows 8 tablet.

With the ability to use the USB for storage, the Surface can take advantage of virtually anything. From using a 'nub' size USB MicroSD interface all the way up to adding in a USB Hub and an Array of multi-TB hard drives, a user can literally have access to 12 TB of data, using common off the shelf products TODAY.

This is far and beyond any other non-Windows tablet.

thenetavenger said,
This is a bit silly when there is far more storage and storage options with the Surface or any Windows RT or Windows 8 tablet.

With the ability to use the USB for storage, the Surface can take advantage of virtually anything. From using a 'nub' size USB MicroSD interface all the way up to adding in a USB Hub and an Array of multi-TB hard drives, a user can literally have access to 12 TB of data, using common off the shelf products TODAY.

This is far and beyond any other non-Windows tablet.


Sure if you ignore the Android tablets that have USB host mode support.

WooHoo!!! said,
You can't install apps to SD cards which should be noted.

True, but most apps aren't that big. With a little fussing, you can have your media locations be on the SD card, and for me, that's what takes up a lot of space. (Word of advice, in my testing, an SD card for use like this should be formatted NTFS. FAT32 will not allow for certain large videos, and I had some odd performance and read issues with exFAT when the tablet was in a low power state)

Still, I think MS should have thrown a USB thumb drive in the box, and had the system restore stuff on there instead

Sraf said,

True, but most apps aren't that big. With a little fussing, you can have your media locations be on the SD card, and for me, that's what takes up a lot of space. (Word of advice, in my testing, an SD card for use like this should be formatted NTFS. FAT32 will not allow for certain large videos, and I had some odd performance and read issues with exFAT when the tablet was in a low power state)

Still, I think MS should have thrown a USB thumb drive in the box, and had the system restore stuff on there instead

Yeah, it's your own media that takes up all the space. All the videos I have for example make up 80% of the stuff on my system.

It's got a microSD card slot so as you say users can put their videos and music on that if needs be.

WooHoo!!! said,
You can't install apps to SD cards which should be noted.

Using NTFS junction points makes anything possible. Including installing apps on it. mklink is the NTFS tool for doing this, similar to mount points in linux.

Lead Wirst said,

Using NTFS junction points makes anything possible. Including installing apps on it. mklink is the NTFS tool for doing this, similar to mount points in linux.

That's a really great trick, but I've seen that lead to some unusual phenomena. Proceed with caution.

Skwerl said,

That's a really great trick, but I've seen that lead to some unusual phenomena. Proceed with caution.

The only issue it's given me is the difficulty in explaining the topology of my SteamApps directory to others

It's a full OS so this is to be suspected, although if the 32GB Surface didn't have 64GB expendable memory the 16GB would be too little. You can't sell it for 32GB and only provide half of it. Up to 30% being unsuable is acceptable, anything more sounds to me like misinformation.

Having said that, I'll likely purchase a 32GB Surface once it is available in my country (and I'll use my 32GB card).

Ronnet said,
It's a full OS so this is to be suspected, although if the 32GB Surface didn't have 64GB expendable memory the 16GB would be too little. You can't sell it for 32GB and only provide half of it. Up to 30% being unsuable is acceptable, anything more sounds to me like misinformation.

Having said that, I'll likely purchase a 32GB Surface once it is available in my country (and I'll use my 32GB card).

People forget that on Android and iOS things are not so simple in what the user can expect. Android doesn't all fit on the internal storage, and the removable or user storage area is consumed with Apps and other OS related information.

There is a very LARGE copy of Office along with the OS sitting on there, along with many Apps preinstalled, and all the normal Windows desktop applications as well.


However, you are correct that this is more like a traditional 'computer' with a full 'OS', because it simply is, and space isn't specifically allocated for the OS or locked in a ROM like internal chip.

Because it is a full OS, there is nothing stopping a user from getting a USB 'nub' MicroSD reader, and throwing ANOTHER 64gb (or more) storage on the device. (And since this is removable, user can have an infinite amount of these.)

Also because it is a real computer with a full OS, there is nothing stopping a User from carrying a small 1,2,3 TB hard drive with them, than plugs into the USB port, if they want access to their entire data.

So it may consume a bit more of the internal storage, but the storage capabilities are virtually endless with simple standard off the shelf USB based mass storage devices.

If a user truly needed the space, they could throw a 4 port hub on the USB port, use USB SD card adapters, and without increasing the size or weight add in an additional 256gb to 1tb of storage that is no bigger than a tiny usb port.

And if they needed Massive store, they could and hook up four 3 TB hard hard drives, giving the Microsoft Surface 12 TB of storage.

These are options you do not get with Android or iPad.

Ronnet said,
It's a full OS so this is to be suspected, although if the 32GB Surface didn't have 64GB expendable memory the 16GB would be too little. You can't sell it for 32GB and only provide half of it. Up to 30% being unsuable is acceptable, anything more sounds to me like misinformation.

Having said that, I'll likely purchase a 32GB Surface once it is available in my country (and I'll use my 32GB card).

No it is not. Windows AR is not a full on OS like Windows Pro (like 7, or 8). It is a stripped down core designed to run on ARM not x86. 8GB used is common for most mobile OS'. Android takes up about the same space.

What I hate is, memory is cheap and so is flash storage. By now we should have double what devices come with now and for the same price as they are now. They are just milking people who fall for it.

TechieXP said,
No it is not. Windows AR is not a full on OS like Windows Pro (like 7, or 8). It is a stripped down core designed to run on ARM not x86. 8GB used is common for most mobile OS'. Android takes up about the same space.

What I hate is, memory is cheap and so is flash storage. By now we should have double what devices come with now and for the same price as they are now. They are just milking people who fall for it.


Android takes up no where near 8GB of storage. My 32GB GN for example had 28 and some change GB usable before installing anything, which ends up being a bit than less 4GB lost to the OS and formatting. Not anywhere near 8.

TechieXP said,
No it is not. Windows AR is not a full on OS like Windows Pro (like 7, or 8). It is a stripped down core designed to run on ARM not x86. 8GB used is common for most mobile OS'. Android takes up about the same space.

What I hate is, memory is cheap and so is flash storage. By now we should have double what devices come with now and for the same price as they are now. They are just milking people who fall for it.

I disagree, RT might not be able to run old applications due to the processor but its still the full version of Windows ported over to ARM. It has decades of development underneed the hood. It has all of Windows's advanced features such as its networking capabilities.

I'm not too bothered about not being able to use old applications, there are already 10,000 modern applications. I already use Windows 8 on my laptop and modern apps are much better to use anyway. Don't get me wrong, I doubt Surface will replace my laptop but it will take over 90% of my computer operations. I will only use my laptop when I need to write a long letter or work overtime on some spreadsheet.

In my mind Windows RT is the future. Its full Windows running much lighter and it lowers my power consumption too. The oldest application I have running on my laptop is 3 years old, so in 3 years there really is no reason to go for Windows 8 (unless you're a heavy gamer).

siah1214 said,
This isn't even accurate, mine had about 24 gb free when I unboxed it.

To follow up on this, I just checked the size of Program Files (which includes my apps), and the Windows folder. Together, they took up about 8 1/2 gigabytes, and that's generous. That leaves 23 1/2 gigs for everything else...

siah1214 said,
This isn't even accurate, mine had about 24 gb free when I unboxed it.

I only had about 16 gigs free. Don't check how much space the stuff is taking up- check how much is *available* to you.

I know no device has the amount of storage it claims to have because for formatting and I know the OS will always take up space but their is a very strong case for the 32GB Surface to be labelled a 16GB model.

I don't agree with you often. Here I have to agree with you!!!

thealexweb said,
I know no device has the amount of storage it claims to have because for formatting and I know the OS will always take up space but their is a very strong case for the 32GB Surface to be labelled a 16GB model.

thealexweb said,
I know no device has the amount of storage it claims to have because for formatting and I know the OS will always take up space but their is a very strong case for the 32GB Surface to be labelled a 16GB model.
I don't remember exactly, but my Surface had around 22 GB of storage available when I first used it.

I've never been one to fill up disk space, even on my 16 GB iPad, nor my 16 GB Lumia 900, but it is just as worthwhile to note that the Surface offers expandable storage via the MicroSD slot. I can't say that about my iPad or my Lumia. Combined with my free 28 GB (as I clicked the link when they started limiting it to 7 GB, and 3 GB thanks to the freebie they gave out at the MS Store on the Surface launch day) of Skydrive storage, I can safely use my Surface without any question of space.

And that brings up a different point: you lose ~8-9 GB of storage due to the OS/app footprint, but you get at least 7 GB for free on Skydrive. The awesome thing is that once Dropbox adds support for Windows 8 (if they haven't already), then you can likely get another free ~5 GB of storage without requiring apps to actually support it, which is one of the best parts about Windows 8 that I didn't expect until I really started using my Surface. Throw in a 64 GB SDXC card, and you've got a tablet with over 100 GB of storage for the price of a 32 GB model and the card (~$60-70). The iPad certainly can't say that, and the iPad's cloud storage support isn't nearly as useful as each app has to support it, while Windows 8 enables any app to natively support cloud storage by simply supporting file storage. That's impressive.

I don't like the sound of that. For that price tag they could have easily added just a little more GB's for recovery etc, while giving the user the 16Gb they paid for.

Jarrichvdv said,
I don't like the sound of that. For that price tag they could have easily added just a little more GB's for recovery etc, while giving the user the 16Gb they paid for.

they do get the 16GB they paid for. They don't sell a 16GB device.

Jarrichvdv said,
I don't like the sound of that. For that price tag they could have easily added just a little more GB's for recovery etc, while giving the user the 16Gb they paid for.
Did you make the same complaint about Apple? YES OR NO. LIKELY NO.

The 16GB iPad has 50% of the storage already gone to iOS and preinstall apps. That same 8GB is used up on every model as a minimum with the exception of the Touch. On an 8GB Touch the user is left with very little space for music, yet I saw no one say nothing. So using your words, Apple should add more space for the OS, so that people get the full 16,32 and 64 they paid for.

TechieXP said,
Did you make the same complaint about Apple? YES OR NO. LIKELY NO.

The 16GB iPad has 50% of the storage already gone to iOS and preinstall apps. That same 8GB is used up on every model as a minimum with the exception of the Touch. On an 8GB Touch the user is left with very little space for music, yet I saw no one say nothing. So using your words, Apple should add more space for the OS, so that people get the full 16,32 and 64 they paid for.

Were are you getting your facts? iOS takes up 1GB.

TechieXP said,
Did you make the same complaint about Apple? YES OR NO. LIKELY NO.

The 16GB iPad has 50% of the storage already gone to iOS and preinstall apps. That same 8GB is used up on every model as a minimum with the exception of the Touch. On an 8GB Touch the user is left with very little space for music, yet I saw no one say nothing. So using your words, Apple should add more space for the OS, so that people get the full 16,32 and 64 they paid for.

iOS does not take up anywhere near 8GB on my iPad 0.o

TechieXP said,
Did you make the same complaint about Apple? YES OR NO. LIKELY NO.

The 16GB iPad has 50% of the storage already gone to iOS and preinstall apps. That same 8GB is used up on every model as a minimum with the exception of the Touch. On an 8GB Touch the user is left with very little space for music, yet I saw no one say nothing. So using your words, Apple should add more space for the OS, so that people get the full 16,32 and 64 they paid for.


Please stop spreading nonsense around. And whether or not he made the same complaint about Apple is completely irrelevant to begin with since this article isn't about them.