What Is Reserved Storage in Windows 10 and Should You Disable It

A rather interesting addition in Windows 10 version 1903 is the reserved storage. As the name implies, it’s a certain amount of storage set aside by the operating system for a specific set of tasks. Now that raises several concerns like what kind of tasks?

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And most importantly, can you disable reserved storage? Or is it even possible to do that? That can be puzzling if you are crunched for storage or just don’t like Windows 10 occupying disk space without your permission.

So let’s dive right in and find out what reserved storage is, and whether it’s worth your while to go ahead and disable it.

How It Works

Whenever you perform a fresh installation of Windows 10 version 1903, the operating system will automatically take control of at least 7GB of drive space. Otherwise known as reserved storage, it will fully count against the total amount of storage present on your primary system partition.

However, Windows 10 will not perform this allocation if you are simply updating your PC from an earlier build (1809 or earlier), although you can activate the storage reserve manually if you want to (details further below).

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Tip: To check out the exact size of the storage reserve, type ‘storage settings’ in the Start menu, and then press Enter. Next, click Show More Categories, and then click System & Reserved.

The rationale behind reserved storage is quite simple — it allows carrying out a smoother procedure when installing both cumulative and feature updates in the future.

For example, if your device is running low on storage, updates will still download and install properly since they can simply use reserved storage instead. In other words, you don’t have to worry about failed updates due to a lack of storage.

Is 7GB of Storage Wasted?

But wouldn’t reserved space mean that 7GB of storage is left unused most of the time? Well, not really. Windows 10 will use reserved storage to store temporary files as well.

And when new cumulative and feature updates are available, Windows 10 will automatically get rid of temporary files within the storage reserve to pave the way to install them. At other times, it will use Storage Sense to manage obsolete files as a means to prevent reserved storage from filling up.

But wouldn’t reserved space mean that 7GB of storage is left unused most of the time? Well, not really.

In short, reserved storage is the new home for temporary files created by the operating system. And that means free space on the primary partition won’t be used for that purpose anymore.

Excessive Reserved Storage

Often, you may see that reserved storage consumes space on the primary partition well over 7GB. That occurs when you have lots of optional features enabled or additional languages installed. The increase in the storage reserve thus helps maintain them when newer updates hit your PC in the future.

You can tone down on this excessive storage consumption by removing unnecessary optional features and languages.

In the Start menu, type manage optional features into the Start menu to remove optional features and then press Enter.

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On the Optional Features screen that shows up, select any unwanted features that you want to remove, and then click Uninstall.

Tip: You can always reinstall optional features by clicking the Add a Feature option within the same screen.

To remove unwanted languages, type language settings into the Start menu, and then press Enter. Select the language that you want to remove, and then click Remove.

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Tip: To re-add a language, use the Add a Preferred Language option within the same screen.

Disabling Reserved Storage

If you are running out of storage, you can disable reserved storage quite easily by tweaking the system registry. However, the space gainings may be minimal since Windows 10 will start using free space to create temporary files due to the lack of the storage reserve.

That means you may not see a full 7GB of freed up storage. And newer cumulative and feature updates may also fail to install if you don’t have sufficient free space to go around. Do keep that in mind before you go ahead.

Step 1: Press Windows+R shortcut to open the Run box. Next, type regedit. Then click OK to open the Registry Editor.

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Step 2: Copy and paste the following path into the address bar at the top of the window:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\ReserveManager
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Afterward, press Enter, and then make sure that the folder labeled ReserveManager is selected on the left-side pane.

Step 3: Double-click the registry key labeled ShippedWithReserves on the right side of the Registry Editor window. On the pop-up box, insert a value of 0, and then click OK.

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Restart your computer. Windows 10 will make the appropriate changes during the reboot procedure. You won’t see the Reserved Storage section under the System & Reserved section of Storage Settings anymore.

Enabling Reserved Storage

If you updated from a previous build, you won’t see reserved storage listed within the Storage Settings pane. You can, however, enable the feature, but Windows 10 won’t make a full reservation of 7GB until the next major feature update. The same applies if you disabled reserved storage, and want to re-enable it.

Note: The following steps assume that you updated Windows 10 from a previous build, which likely means that you have to create the relevant registry key from scratch to enable reserved storage. If you just want to re-enable reserved storage after disabling it earlier, then skip Steps 3 and 4.

Step 1: Press Windows+R shortcut to open the Run box. Type regedit and then click OK to open the Registry Editor.

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Step 2: Copy and paste the following path into the address bar at the top of the window:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\ReserveManager
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Press Enter, and then make sure that the folder labeled ReserveManager is selected on the left-side pane.

Step 3: Right-click a vacant area on the right side of the Registry Editor window. Point to New, and then select DWORD (32-bit) Value.

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Step 4: Name the newly created registry key as ShippedWithReserves.

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Step 5: Double-click the freshly created ShippedWithReserves key. Set a value of 1, and then click OK.

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Reboot your computer. Although reserved storage is now active, you won’t see the resultant storage reservation until the next major feature update.

Doesn’t Really Matter

Windows 10’s reserved storage is actually a well-thought implementation, especially since updates can now occur without any storage issues to mess things up. However, desktops with SSDs that have less space to start off with can specifically suffer due to this extra storage allocated by the operating system.

But considering that Windows 10 won’t put reserved storage to waste, it’s really not that clear cut whether you will potentially free up a significant amount of space by disabling it. So unless you are really scrounging for some storage, there’s really no reason to disable it.

Next up: Windows Sandbox is another interesting implementation that was released as part of the May 1903 Update. If you find it missing, here’s how to enable it.

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How to Fix the Windows 10 Sandbox Mode Missing Issue
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Dilum Senevirathne has written about tech and finance for over five years. When he isn’t messing around with the latest iOS apps, you can catch him tweaking a collection of IoT gadgets. Dilum is a management accounting student and a prospective charterholder.