This guide was originally made on 7/31/13 for /r/Surface. I put it here on my own personal site so I can easily find and reference it for anyone in the future and so I can modify as I see necessary.
I just got a Surface Pro last week (7/22/13) and I realized how powerful this little computer is. So, what I did was change a whole bunch off stuff to make it more of a primary computer. I browsed the Internet to find the best things I could do to get the most of my Surface Pro. I put them all together for everyone else with a Surface Pro to use. Most of the changes where to maximize storage space, since that is the make roadblock for using the Surface Pro as a primary device. My Surface Pro is also set up so I can game on it with Steam and any of my other games.
I am just going to go through all the steps I took on my Surface and if you want to repeat them, go head. I am rather pleased with however thing turned out though. Everything
I recommend you to have for this guide is completely optional
and you only need them if you want them. Here is how the storage of my 64GB
Surface Pro looks afterwards (with all my stuff installed on it):
Disclaimer: For all of this guide, it is expected you have your Surface Pro plugged in and have internet available. None of this guide is harmful in anyway to your device, but should something happen, I am not responsible if anything happens to your Surface Pro. I have added sources to each section of the guide of where I got my info from. Please make sure you follow each step carefully, since a lot of them have to do with formatting and removing partitions, you can very easily destroy a harddrive if you select C: instead of I:.
List of things I recommend for this guide:
Required Items: USB Flash Drive that is at least 8GB (like the one above) or an external harddrive of some kind
WARNING: This will completely wipe any device you are making this on. Windows only supports one partition for removable devices. So even if you have another partition, it will be destroy and formatted over. Also, some BIOS do not like to boot from removable devices with multiple partitions. You have been warned.
If you used a removable device that is over 32GB, you will notice that your device is only 32GB now. This is because Windows XP/7/Vista/8 DiskPart cannot create FAT32 partitions larger than 32GB. You cannot just another file system format, because the Surface Pro can only boot from FAT32. To fix this, you will need to create a partition that uses the whole device with a third-party formatting tool called fat32format. Steps to do this:
If you plan on using this recovery drive for other stuff (like a normal flash drive), you probably do not want to see all those files on it or have it so anyone can accidently delete them. To fix this, change the files to system files and hide them. This way, they cannot be seen unless "Hide System Files" is unchecked and if the files are attempted to be deleted, you will be prompted with a warning not to. To mark a file as a system file:
Required Items: microSD
Normally when I see people recommend to do this, they tell the user to just create new directories and add them to libraries and change your save.... blah blah blah. There is an easier way to do this without doing all of that. Move your files over and create symbolic links in the old location to the new files. There is another method I normally use which involves telling Windows the Users folder is located on a different drive, but that does not work well here since the microSD is not fast enough for that. Before starting this section, note that once you move your files you need to keep the microSD in your Surface Pro at ALL times while it is booted. If you want to remove the microSD and replace it with another one ir get rid of it, you need to delete the symbolic links and move the files back to the original location first. Steps to do all this:
Required Items: nothing!
Whenever you hibernate your computer, Windows stores everything that is in your computer's Memory (RAM) and saves it to the disk so it can restore it later. To make sure it can do this at any time, Windows keeps a file laying around the size of your RAM on the root of the C: drive. If you disable Hibernation, this file is deleted and you get that space back. The Surface Pro has 4GB of RAM so you get 4GB of SSD space if you disable hibernation. There is no downside to doing this other then the fact you cannot hibernate your Surface Pro if you do it (I never use Hibernate anyways). Steps to disable hibernation:
Required Items: nothing!
Before every computer had 4GB+ of RAM (seriously, have you seen the Walmart computers recently? Almost all of them have 4GB+ of RAM), not every process (program) could keep its data in Memory at once. To fix this, operating systems would move some of the data to a file onto the main disk. This system is called paging. It is a lot more complicated then this, but you probably do not care about that. By default, this file is automanaged by Windows and is the same side as your RAM. You can reduce tis amount from 4GB to a smaller amount (I recommend 2GB). If you reduce it too much, you can run the risk of Windows crashing if it runs out of memory.
You can also do various other taskes to get some extra space like running the "Free up disk space" wizard, compress your Windows/Installer folder and changing your indexing options. More details on those can be found here.
Required Items: external harddrive
If you were not aware of this, around the holiday season of last year, Valve made it possible to have multiple "Steam Libraries" so you can install Steam games on other drives. You can do this on the Surface Pro to save space on your main drive. I recommend using a USB 3.0 1TB (or some large size based on how many Steam games you have) Portable External harddrive. Steam lets you use removable drives to install games and if the removable drive is missing, it just says it is not installed. You obviously do not want to unplug the drive while playing the game, but that is the only warning for moving your Steam Libraries to another drive.
Chances are if have had your Surface for a little while you already have Steam installed and some games. If that is the case, you can now move the games to the new library:
I just wanted to throw this in here if you have not seen it yet. It is an awesome application made by Microsoft Garge. It is called Mouse without Borders and it lets you use one mouse and keyboard on upto 4 computers and lets you share the clipboard between them or transfer files effortlessly
Required Items: Docking Station
Using any of the combined storage extendtion methods, particularly the moving users files and Steam games, you can easily turn your Surface Pro into your main computer. There is only one problem: how do you do that with only one video out and one USB port? You need a "docking station". I have the Kensington sd3500v Universal USB 3.0 Docking Station, however, many other Surface Pro users seem to be getting the Targus USB 3.0 Dual Video Docking Station. The Kensington one gives you 2 USB 3.0 ports, 4 USB 2.0 ports, 1 Ethernet, 1 DVI and 1 HDMI. The Targus one gives you the same things. The difference between the two is that the Kensington one stands up right and comes with a DVI to HDMI adapter, a HDMI to DVI adapter, and a DVI to VGA adapter. The Kensington one is also about 30 more expensive. Both docking stations allow you to use two more additional montiors for a total of 3 displays (I do not know if you can use the miniDisplay port to get 4, I do not have the right cable).