Last December I grabbed a deal on a cheap HP Stream laptop for my family. It’s been a nice little convenience screen, but with gotchas:
1) Tiny hard drive – 30GB total, with 10 gone to Windows (as expected). Then HP took another 10 for their partition.
→ So just 10GB for you! A few apps later and even OneDrive cannot save you.
2) Tiny RAM – 2GB, but only 0.7GB available idling. HP complicated the 2GB also by bizarrely installing 64-bit Windows (against Microsoft’s recommendation) and wasting its limited RAM.
→ Multiple users? “Please log out instead of switch user, honey”.
3)…and none of it is upgrade-able.
→ Well, you can do like I did and add a big fast SD card for more storage, but that’s about it.
Then Windows 10 came out, and it’s generally great. It extended Win8’s unified Microsoft logins, and rolled in what was formerly Live’s Family Safety features, making it great for families. And with the Start Menu back, I now have no worries about moving cheese for business users. So to me, the Windows 10 upgrade is an automatic yes for any Windows 8 systems or new PCs.
Add 10 to the above challenges, and of course I wanted to kill seven in one blow! Specifically, 1) move to Windows 10, 2) reclaim drive space from HP’s extra partition, and 3) reclaim RAM from HP’s dumb 64-bit choice. (Alright, 3 in one blow, whatever).
That brings us to a month ago, when I started this blog post….
TL;DR: 2/3 ain’t bad. Success on #1 for drive space. No-go on RAM.
Problem: HP provides NO 32-bit drivers for the Stream. Result: non-working touchpad.
Many hours of reinstalling various editions of Windows, and every other trick I’ve learned over 20+ years, and I got Device Manager looking happy, but with no valid chipset drivers (I believe Intel’s Trusted Execution Engine Interface is the main culprit) to expose the touchpad device to Windows. Actually, I saw a dramatic difference on RAM usage (about 25% more available), but no working touchpad (which is critical for a convenience device like the Stream). I’ll leave that sad story there — if you want more, lemme know.
But there’s still the upgrade and the drive!
Problem #2: Not enough free-space to do the upgrade.
I ran into several snafus with this, but we can get around that! Here’s how:
- Get an empty 16GB flash drive.
- Backup all your data to OneDrive. Just do it now. It’s built-in! And now your stuff is backed up and can just self-load into any future Windows installs.
- Use Windows built-in “Reset this PC” feature to return your Stream to factory defaults. This will wipe everything and free up a ton of space.
- Download and run MediaCreationTool64.exe, and let it download and check away. (FYI, the 32-bit MediaCreationTool.exe will NOT work, and will just pop up an empty or useless error message…)
When the tool still(!) complains about not having enough space…
- Plug in an empty 16GB USB flash drive and point it at that for temporary storage. This should let it run. Be patient, it’s downloading an entire DVD and replacing your OS. Maybe let it run overnight, but it should work.
- You now have Windows 10!
Login with your Microsoft account and turn on OneDrive. Your stuff will appear.
- …And HP’s partition disappeared! This is a nice surprise, as I otherwise would have given about 20 more steps to capture product key, capture drivers, repartition the drive, and scratch-install Windows.
I suspect it means “undoing” the upgrade probably won’t really put it back the way it was, but that way stunk, and this saves you tons of trouble.
Unfortunately, it’s still high RAM usage (I’m currently at 72% with a single Chrome tab open and nothing else running), but it’s significantly more free drive space and Windows 10. Heck of an ordeal, but a worthwhile improvement.