Seriously, do not entertain the idea of purchasing any machine with only 32GB of storage space – especially if it has a desktop operating system.
In the days of Windows 7, Microsoft’s operating system required up to 30GB of hard-drive space to operate. The release of Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 did not optimise this either. And then, finally the Windows 10 update did bring some improvements. From machines I have worked with, a minimal Windows 10 installation takes up around 20GB to 26GB of hard-drive space after security patches and updates.
A standard Windows 10 installation will take up to 26GB of hard drive space, leaving you with less than 6GB of real space. Installing the Microsoft Office suite (Word, Powerpoint and Excel) along with a real internet browser such as Chrome or Firefox will bring you down to 4.5GB. If, like many casual users, you use the built-in mail application for emails you could see you free storage space dwindle further. Whilst using your machine, the cache will also fill up with temporary files, and not even a week after configuring your shiny new machine you’ll start seeing Low Storage warnings.
It baffles me that manufacturers are getting away with selling hardware with only 32GB of storage. 32GB is not sufficient on most modern smartphones, let alone a laptop or tablet with a full-fledged operating system!
The reason behind this is quite simple. Money. The next step up is the 64GB chip which is double the price. When comparing the market for low-end, low-spec machines this price difference is significant. In many cases, it is the difference between £139.99 and £189.99. Consumers in the market for a simple machine see a big difference between a sub-£150 machine and a sub-£200 machine.
Where possible, I would strongly recommend against a 32GB machine. 64GB is slightly more acceptable – but is unlikely to last you longer than 18 months.
In most cases when recommending laptops to clients, I usually suggest to opt for a 256GB hard drive. Since you are here, reading an article on a 32GB solution – I will assume you are in the market for a budget device.
At this point you need to balance longevity of your purchase and the price you are willing to pay upfront. I would urge you to stay well clear of anything that runs Windows 10 and has a 32GB hard drive. Instead, opt for the 64GB model which will at least give you breathing space. It’s still not ideal. I foresee three years of light usage with the usual security updates from Microsoft to fill up most of the 64GB of storage space, but that is three years longer than a 32GB device.
In the current age of technology and media, a budget option would be a 128GB hard drive. This gives you plenty of room to install an operating system, along with space for temporary cache files and some personal files. Don’t expect this machine to handle all of your iPhone backups, scanned documents, email attachments and digital photos from the last three decades. But as a light-use machine 128GB will give you the room to enjoy your experience without any nagging warnings or notifications.
Until manufacturers find a way to pack a 128GB eMMC (eMMC technology is very expensive for anything over 64GB) in to these budget devices, it will be difficult for consumers to find a real budget deal that actually makes sense. Current options on the market suggest that a budget machine is not only cheap, but is also designed to last under two years.