One of the most annoying things about Windows 8.1 is the inability to install modern apps on external storage, like an SD card or an external hard drive. This functionality would enable users to download an almost unlimited number of apps and would be good news for both consumers and Windows developers.
Windows 8 didn’t have the ability either, but at least there was a registry workaround that was taken out when Windows 8.1 was released. A reinstatement of an official ability to do this would be most helpful for low storage users.
Unfortunately, this is not the case, so these users are forced to install only a limited number of apps, which lowers the overall experience and also hinders app sales in the Windows Store. However, there are ways to minimize the issue and save space for more apps.
1. Pin websites instead of downloading apps
While it’s true that not all apps have websites and vice versa, there are many websites that you can pin to your Windows 8.1 Start Screen that support live or big tiles. Take 1800Pocket/PC for example. If you visit any page on this site (home page recommended), you can pin it to your Start Screen and receive Live Tile notifications for new news posts, no download of app software needed.
There are other sites on the Internet that offer tiles as well, such as the Tagged.com social network. Of course, any site can be pinned, so try pinning some sites instead of downloading apps (i.e. pin Amazon’s website instead of downloading the app). This approach may not offer as “native” of an experience as an app would, but it would allow you to keep everything important to you at your fingertips until Windows 10 comes out and hopefully allows installation on external storage.
2. Use an external drive for desktop software
Even though modern Windows software can’t be downloaded to an external storage device, you can still do it with desktop software with a few tweaks to your computer’s settings. If you’re not sure how to do this, I’d recommend doing a Bing search for the proper method with your version of Windows.
3. Uninstall pre-installed apps you no longer need
This one may seem self-explanatory, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people who have pre-installed versions of Norton Anti-virus or Toshiba’s tablet apps collecting digital dust in their tablets. The golden rule is, if you’re not using it at least once a week, it’s probably not worth keeping on your system. Make sure to keep step 1 above in mind for this.
4. Install BlueStacks Android player for apps
One thing that many people overlook is that Windows offers a variety of ways to get all the apps we could ever want. One of these is BlueStacks Android Player, which lets you download virtually all Android applications from Google Play and even sideload Android APK files directly from the web. The best part about doing it this way is Step 2 above. You’ll be able to install them on an external storage device, saving your internal storage for Windows 8 apps you use frequently.
5. Important: Use Disk Cleanup often!
Especially when you do a lot of updates, even after the updates are installed, these installation files can be a real drain on your storage space. The best way to keep your storage at maximum levels is to utilize the built-in Disk Cleanup utility (access the charms bar, search for “Disk Cleanup” and tap or click on free up disk space by deleting unnecessary files. This will allow you to clear files you no longer need.
6. Auto upload Pictures and Documents to OneDrive and make online-only
Pictures, videos, and documents can take up a lot of storage space. By setting your Camera app pictures and videos to auto-upload to OneDrive and making them available online-only, you’re able to conserve more disk space for your favorite apps and games.
To do this, right click on the OneDrive icon in the PC or tablet task bar and select Settings. Finally, click the button that says “make all files online-only…”.
Alternatively, you can also make your pictures, videos, music, and documents save to the SD card or external storage by altering the default save location.
These are just a few suggestions to help you free up some space. If you have any additional suggestions that might help 1800PPC readers with low-storage devices, please feel free to share them in the comments. It’s worth noting that a few of these steps — step 1 and step 6 for example — even work for conserving storage on Windows Phone.