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Disappearing Hard Drive space

This is where you can ask questions and get and give help about hardware related issues. This Forum will be moderated by Taw with help from some other experts. So feel free to ask any questions you may have about computers.

Post Fri Sep 15, 2006 9:36 pm

Disappearing Hard Drive space

Hello there, fellow Hardware forum-ers.

I've been having a problem with my computer lately- as the topic suggests, my hard drive space is disappearing! i've lost about 300 mb in the last week or so, and have no idea where it's gone! There have been no installations, or additions of files. I've defragged the harddrive, run disk cleanup, run full virus/spyware scans, which all come up clean. I've wiped all temporary internet files etc, etc, but I can't figure out where this space is going! It continues to disappear and doesn't seem to want to come back!

Could this be a result of the Virtual memory Paging file, or system restore points? I'm running WinXP professional.

Note- my parents also listen to quite a bit of internet radio on this machine- can that have anything to do with this mysterious disappearance of space?

Post Fri Sep 15, 2006 11:30 pm

Maybe your HD is dying....like mine....

Edited by - cbrain on 9/16/2006 12:29:49 AM

Post Sat Sep 16, 2006 1:56 am

Have you added any new programs? Reason I ask, is windows XP does a System restore point when you add a program, and on occation, it can create small daily points.

And to your question about the radio, it could be temp files added from the listening. Have you done a "Clean up" run lately? Programs/assesories/system tools/disk cleanup

Edited by - Finalday on 9/16/2006 2:58:35 AM

Post Sat Sep 16, 2006 7:56 am

@Finalday-

No new program installations. I've also done the disk cleanup.... it said it'd save me about 2kb, and I ran it anyways. No joy.

Post Sat Sep 16, 2006 12:59 pm

J Dawg on the Disk Cleanup window you'll see 2 tabs at the top, select the "more options" one, at the bottom you'll see a section called "system restore" with a button called "cleanup". This will remove all but your most recent restore points, on my 20Gb HDD I can get back over 1Gb of HDD space that these damned things hold on to.

**shuffles of with a new headache**

Post Sat Sep 16, 2006 3:37 pm

now if it was anyone else, I'd suggest that a virus might be filling up your hdd, but as you're generally smarter than the average user, let's pass on that one - for now.

Restore points can use a lot of space, but you can restrict the amount available. XP by default puts it at 12% which is waay too much, you never need to go back more than a few days, so knock that down to about 5% tops (but check what that equals in actual disk space as you need at least a couple of gig)

Do you use iTunes? or anything like it? the media libraries such applications create can eat up space rapidly, and is the primary reason I abandoned iTunes. Also, if you've been installing a lot of stuff, and opening up a lot of web folders and compressed files, you'll have big temp files, a full cache, and a very big prefetch folder. none of which you need. If your parents have been fiddling with your media player suites listening to interweb radio, they prob'ly are the reason why you're losing all this space. make sure it's not adding what they're streaming to the media library, as it almost certainly is. The create a limited access account with a password and tell them to keep away and stop trashing your pc

so, get rid of the media libraries in kak like iTunes or Media Player (you can still play the files from their storage directories just as well) and then, delete all the files and sub-directories in the following folders (be careful though!) do NOT delete the directories themselves! This will free up lots od space. Make sure you disable the add to media library function too, otherwise it'll all be recreated again. I've seen these things use up scores of gbs for no useful purpose.

C:Temp - probl'y just got some txt files in, and it may not even exist in your root. if it's not, don't worry, saves you the bother.
C:\Windows\Temp - you can get rid of everything in here. you won't lose anything important, it's just temp files.
C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Local Settings\Temp - and here too, delete the lot.
C:\Windows\Prefetch - all EXCEPT layout.ini, you need that. All the rest is just Windows dross.

empty out your browser cache including IE even if you don't use the stupid thing
disable synchronisation and offline files, unless you really need them.
Archive and compact your Outlook personal folders, if you use Outlook.
Disable the Windows Indexing service, it's complete rubbish anyway
Use the disk cleanup tool and get rid of any.old and .chk files lying around, and use the compress old files option too.

manually archive stuff you aren't likely to use but don't want to get rid of using WinRar and burn it to disk or external storage, then delete it. this can inculde savegames (you should see how big the savegame files are for Oblivion, for example) Burn films and shows to DVD also, or tranfer to external storage.

run a reg and file/directory cleaner like Windoctor or C-Cleaner, to tidy up the loose ends.

defrag, pref using Diskeeper.

let me know how much space you free up! it will be more than you think.



Edited by - Tawakalna on 9/16/2006 5:02:46 PM

Post Sat Sep 16, 2006 9:49 pm

Taw, that'll take awhile, but I'll get on it as soon as possible. I do, regretably use iTunes, as it is the only way to interface with that satanic iPod. iTunes did promptly make lots of unneeded copies of many songs. The other thing keeping it around is that it is the only way to play all of those songs that I foolishly have in their damned proprietary format that won't even work outside of iTunes as a paperweight!

Also beware, by default iTunes has two running background processes that eat up cpu time even when the program isn't running!


Edit- There's also been this mysterious folder called "System Volume Information",
directly on the C: root directory. It's access denied. Is this common to all windoez systems, or is it something I should worry about?

Edit again- Nail on the head Taw! The Documents and Settings\<username>\Temp folder had 1.37 GB of temporary files.

Edited by - J Dawg on 9/16/2006 11:04:55 PM

Edited by - J Dawg on 9/16/2006 11:08:35 PM

Post Sat Sep 16, 2006 10:37 pm

Practically any Windows 2000 or XP box has such a directory on the hard drive(s) used by the system. You're locked out of it, presumably so you won't accidentally delete something of major importance

Post Sun Sep 17, 2006 12:44 am

Glad to be of service, comrade. I thought it would be a lot, I was guessing between about 1/2 to 2gb from what you were saying. You should clear all the directories I mentioned out on a fairly regular basis. Once a week for me! Windows creates so much unnecessary cr*p that just eats up space and resources. What is the point of the prefetcher, when the system boots faster without the prefetch files anyway? Why are there so many temp folders? why does Office Fast Find actually slow searching down? Who put the stupid animated dog on the search panel?

System Volume Information is an important NTFS file - you should leave it alone; not that you can do anything with it anyway.


their damned proprietary format that won't even work outside of iTunes


<ahem> not necessarily thee's always a way round everything if you're prepared to make a bit of effort.

Post Sun Sep 17, 2006 7:46 am

Please, do continue! I'd be happy to be rid of this curesed thing.

Post Sun Sep 17, 2006 10:25 am

it would be contravening the law, the rules of TLR, and my moderator's badge to discuss this further with you, and I'd get TLR into trouble if I did. We're talking about DRM protection here and it's a hot topic at the moment, with the music publishers and distributors hammering down on people and sites that show how to get around DRM. All I will say is that nothing is impossible and the tools you need can be found fairly easily if you scout around the interweb and persevere.

Edited by - Tawakalna on 9/17/2006 11:29:16 AM

Post Sun Sep 17, 2006 10:57 am

I respect and appreciate your judgement, Taw. Well said.

Needless to say, I'm not looking to be off pirating tracks here, just managing the iPod without the use of their programs. Not that it makes any difference, of course, because no matter how good the intentions, corruption by self or others is only a stone's throw away.

Total space reclaimed, just over 2 GB.

Post Sun Sep 17, 2006 11:23 am

just another legitimate example of how DRM formats curb legal use - go MP3!

Post Sun Sep 17, 2006 2:00 pm

I agree completely, CV. while I don't object to anyone making money or protecting their copyright, what i do object to is hamstringing the public and making it nigh on impossible for ordinary folks to have any choice in how to use/listen/view the item that they've paid good money for. One could easily argue that piracy is not driven by the pirates but by the monopoliistic attitudes of the media companies - and, seeing as all DRM is cracked within days of every new security feature coming out, one might well also ask what exactly the media companies are trying to achieve, seeing as they can't realistically stop piracy? The answer is of course, continue milking Joe Public who doesn't know any different and hasn't got the knowledge or skills to solve the problem for himself.

I don't approve of piracy, artists have a right to the royalties for their work and I don't have a problem with paying for it to be packaged and presented to me. what i do object to is paying over the odds and being limited to playing something in one piece of software on one machine. Of course, I'm in reality not, but that's what DRM issuers want be to me.

A friend came to me the other day with several albums she'd dld from a paysite that she wanted putting on her phone as ringtones. Course, they were DRMed. It wasn't hard to sort it out and she was very pleased, but there you have a typical example of the blatant monopoly and unfair business practice that DRM is.

JD - 2gb's not bad, is it? for folks with a smallish hdd it can make the difference between havinga working system and, well, and not.

Edited by - Tawakalna on 9/17/2006 3:36:20 PM

Post Mon Sep 18, 2006 10:06 pm

On the less dicesy subject of the Prefetcher, etc - I'd be curious to know how to disable some of that more obscure performance-DE-enhancing junk in XP Pro. I already got rid of that darn dog in the Search dialog and locked down some of the less-necessary services (really, Wireless Zero Config on a desktop box with a NIC? Come ON ), though. Oh, and switched to the Windows Classic Theme from that silly interface.
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