How to Manage Hard Drive Space Used by Windows 7 Backup and Restore


“I thought this computer came with a 500 gig hard drive, but I only have 320 gigs I can use, why?” Ever wonder why you thought you had a lot of hard drive space when you bought your computer only to see a great chunk of it disappear. While some people say it’s the size of the operating system, that’s not entirely true. Windows 7 ships with a lot of utilities that can help the average user fix his or her own computer without the help of a technician. These include system recovery tools like Windows 7 Backup and Restore.

What is System Restore?

Everyone has something happen to their PC that they wish they could undo. Windows has made that “undo” feature build in with a back and restore feature. However, this feature takes up hard drive space. It has to take up space because of the way it runs. System Restore is like a photo snapshot of your computer on a particular date. It returns your system files, programs and settings to how things were on that particular day – so you don’t have to figure out program caused what program, just go back to way things were. It’s an incredible time saving feature. In Windows 7, the System Restore feature is even more robust, pinpointing what files were removed or added and what your PC will look like when the clock gets turned back.

What is Windows Backup?

Windows Backup builds on top of this protection. Whereas System Restore will just deal with system settings, Windows Backup will actually protect your e-mail, pictures, documents and personal files. This is an advantage to Windows 7 that wasn’t available in Windows XP.

What does this have to do with my hard drive?

So as you can imagine, creating these snapshots and backups of your system takes up hard drive space. Some people like to have a lot of protection, which means lots of save points. Lots of save points means lots of hard drive space is taken up. Fewer save points means fewer files have to be kept so therefore less hard drive space is used. Same thing applies to the backup files. Do you wish to backup just a few documents or do you want to backup all your movies and songs? The difference between the content you choose to backup can matter how much hard drive space is used.

How do I use these features?

Step 1: Click on the Windows Icon on the bottom left (this is where the Start menu used to be)
Step 2: Click on Control Panel
Step 3: Click the System and Security Icon
Step 4: Click System
Step 5: Click the Advanced Settings button
Step 6: Click Configure
Step 7: Adjust the slider for the amount of disk space to be used
Step 8: Click delete if you want delete restore points to free up space

Depending on your style of computing, you can recover dozens of gigs of hard drive space using this method. However, it is not advisable to turn off such system protection settings because they exist for a reason. Having a stable system requires stable restore points to work off of in case these is an error with the computer. Operating systems these days are incredibly complex and you never know what exactly caused the issue. Having a restore point will save you a lot of time. The same goes for backups – even though you technically could make it a habit to backup your files to an external drive – most people forget to .