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Hard drive space gone


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#1
mintchip

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Yesterday I happened to check my hard drive space, and it had vanished without reason. I haven't been storing anything on there that would eat up more space than usual. The capacity is 38.2 GB, and I've always had plenty of space on it. I have tried to find what is taking up the space and cannot find anything. My documents folder, which includes all my music, is currently 15 GB, about what I've always had in there. I know I can move all the music off the hardrive, but that does not explain what happend or get the missing space back. All it would do is free up the space the music is using. I want to get to the root of the problem.

The computer has been acting up - the pointer freezes and I have to reboot (I had figured the mouse needs replacing, but now I'm not sure), and webpages have been spontaneously going back to the previous page without me hitting the back button. Yesterday, when I turned the computer on, a blue screen appeared, said the NTFS volume was dirty, and ran a file check. I've already done just about everything I can think of...searched the internet, cleaned things out, ran scan/recover disk. Can someone please tell me how to find what is eating up my space? I have about 20 GB unaccounted for. I already have "show hidden files and folders" checked and can find nothing that would account for the missing half of my hardrive space. I have only 10% free, and in the past have always been at about 50% without having done anything different to cause this. The computer is 4 years old, Windows XP.

Edited to add: There are no viruses present. The computer is clean, so that is not the problem.

Edited by mintchip, 03 November 2008 - 05:13 AM.

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#2
The Skeptic

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To see what happens on your disk you must see hidden system folders. Open My Computer > tools > folder options > view. Uncheck "hide protected operating system files (recommended)" and conform. You can search for folder(s) that contain the unaccounted for space.

1: To clean up space run CCleaner and "windows installer cleanup". Both have links in my list below. Run CCleaner on defaults, adding only "old prefetch data". When installing the program avoid installing the Yahoo toolbar that comes packed inside.

2: What measures did you take to make sure that the computer is virus clean?
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#3
mintchip

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To see what happens on your disk you must see hidden system folders. Open My Computer > tools > folder options > view. Uncheck "hide protected operating system files (recommended)" and conform. You can search for folder(s) that contain the unaccounted for space.

Thanks for responding. I haven't found anything yet, but don't even know where I should be looking.

1: To clean up space run CCleaner and "windows installer cleanup". Both have links in my list below. Run CCleaner on defaults, adding only "old prefetch data". When installing the program avoid installing the Yahoo toolbar that comes packed inside.

I'll try it.

2: What measures did you take to make sure that the computer is virus clean?

Good measures. Avast, and other measures too numerous to mention. It's very unlikely I have a virus, and don't want to go down a road to nowhere.

Recently, I've also noticed that when I delete a lot of files, then go to my recycle bin to empy it, the files have vanished. Does anyone find this strange? Where are they going? I just deleted tons of music (had backup copies) and when I went to empty the recycle bin, most of it had vanished.

Edit: I'm not the kind of person to let junk build up on my system, so CCleaner will probably not be of any help

Edited by mintchip, 03 November 2008 - 03:19 PM.

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#4
The Skeptic

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1: CCleaner and windows installer cleanup are programs that clean unnecessary files from places that the average, and above average user will never find.

2: The recycle's bin volume can be adjusted. By default it's 10% of the disk volume. Right click The icon > properties and see what the volume is. If it's too small set it right and see if deleted files will show up.

3: If you download music with e-mule then the program has a Temp folder which contains unfinished downloads. Just a week ago I saw a computer in which this temp fold had 20 gigabyte of .part files. I am not sure but I guess that all file sharing programs are having a similar option.
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#5
mintchip

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1: CCleaner and windows installer cleanup are programs that clean unnecessary files from places that the average, and above average user will never find.

I understand. While I'm sure I'm not beyond an above average user, the amount CCleaner found was so small it had absolutely no effect on my drive space, which I sort of expected. It's a great utility though. It simplifies things.

2: The recycle's bin volume can be adjusted. By default it's 10% of the disk volume. Right click The icon > properties and see what the volume is. If it's too small set it right and see if deleted files will show up.

Thanks!! I've never checked the recycle bin's settings. I set it much higher, but no files appeared. Can you please tell me what could have happened to the files? I hope they were deleted.

3: If you download music with e-mule then the program has a Temp folder which contains unfinished downloads. Just a week ago I saw a computer in which this temp fold had 20 gigabyte of .part files. I am not sure but I guess that all file sharing programs are having a similar option.

No, I absolutely do not use anything like that. Thanks for the help. If you can offer any other suggestions, like where to look for large files, I"d appreciate it. I cleaned the system out as much as I could, and deleted or moved everything unnecessary from the hardrive, then defragmented, etc, so there is more space now and the computer is runnning better, but there is still something taking up more space than should be expected.
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#6
Topaz

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Couple of other suggestions :
Check your System Restore points . Go to the ROOT of C:\ , (Basically open C: Drive ) find the directory "System Volume information" and right click > Properties , the size will display how large your stockpile of Restore points are , it can get out of hand if set too large , an off chance this is taking up your space . Just delete all but last Restore Point with the Windows Disk Cleanup .

My documents folder, which includes all my music, is currently 15 GB, about what I've always had in there.

A tip . I find everything in "My Documents" is duplicated to "C:\Documents and Settings" , I never let a lot of large files accumulate in My Documents , for this reason . Then again you've always done this so ... Check it out anyhow ! If you create a Directory , say "C:\My Music" and move all your tracks there you'll save Ten to Fifteen GigaBytes of space .
I'd like to suggest you download and install a small disk management viewer so we can see what's going on .
WinDirStat It is amazing program which shows were all your files are , colour coded , very advanced , I'm sure this will shed some light on the Disk usage problem for you .


The computer has been acting up - the pointer freezes and I have to reboot (I had figured the mouse needs replacing, but now I'm not sure), and webpages have been spontaneously going back to the previous page without me hitting the back button.

Yes , not good !
Failing all else :
You Must Read This Before Posting A Hijackthis Log, Malware Cleaning Guide

Please respond with your findings here in this thread before posting in the Malware Forum.
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#7
The Skeptic

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Hi topaz,

I am afraid that you are wrong about My Documents. If you right-click the icon on the desktop (or in Start menu) and look in Properties you will see that it takes you to documents and settings\user\user's documents. It the same thing. No double folders.

On the other hand I agree with you about the malware forum because of the problems mentioned (freeze, web pages going back etc.) and apparently lost disk volume. However, mintchip is convinced that his computer is clean and see no point in doing that.

As far as restore points are concerned: like the recycle bin it is limited by default to 12% of disk value. This can be set to a lower value. The computer creates restore points until the given volume is filled up. After that the oldest restore points are being deleted automatically while new one created.

Mintchip: did you also run Windows Installer Cleanup? Did it make any difference? As for how to locate large files, I have no good answer for that. You have to use windows explorer and search for them in a methodical way. For example, start with Properties of your user account and see if the volume shown makes sense. If you feel that the volume occupied is too high, look for suspected folder within your user account. It's a trial and error business.
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#8
Topaz

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Thanks The Skeptic , yes I was wrong about My Documents , sorry . Not trying to interefere , just a few ideas to add to yours . :)

I do think using WinDirStat would be useful at this point . It maps out in a tree list easy to view statistics about Files and Folders and their size , rather than doing a "stocktake" in Windows Explorer , which wouldn't be too hard , but WinDirStat would Map the Drive in under a minute .
The Skeptic:

As far as restore points are concerned: like the recycle bin it is limited by default to 12% of disk value.


We need to know what size it is , if mintchip could look at his settings . Somewhere something is wrong , checking one by one as The Skeptic says , is all that can be done . Either a storage program is set wrongly , or there's a Virus in my opinion .

The Skeptic:

Mintchip: did you also run Windows Installer Cleanup? Did it make any difference?


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#9
mintchip

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Couple of other suggestions :
Check your System Restore points ...it can get out of hand if set too large , an off chance this is taking up your space .

Thanks Topaz. I did that after the problem first started, and it was not using enough to account for the space loss. I have since reduced it even further. It is under 2 GB, but even at it's max allowed, it could never have accounted for the loss.

WinDirStat It is amazing program which shows were all your files are , colour coded , very advanced , I'm sure this will shed some light on the Disk usage problem for you .

Thanks. It sounds really usefull. I'll check it out.

Yes , not good !
Failing all else :
You Must Read This Before Posting A Hijackthis Log, Malware Cleaning Guide

It was the mouse. It was shot. I should have explained that it was only jumping back to previous pages when i moved the mouse, especically if I moved it quickly, or lifted it in a certain way, which is why I thought it was the mouse. It was not the type of problem that would occur with redirections or browser hijackings. I replaced the mouse after cleaning things up the other day, and I have had no further problems.
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#10
mintchip

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On the other hand I agree with you about the malware forum because of the problems mentioned (freeze, web pages going back etc.) and apparently lost disk volume. However, mintchip is convinced that his computer is clean and see no point in doing that.

It's not that I see no point in doing it. I run very tight security settings and have very safe browser habits, and have done numerous scans recently that show nothing. So, I prefer to start with the most obvious causes first, and then if those don't work, I take the next step, which in this case would be the malware forum. If I have any further problems, that is what I will do. At the moment, all problems have stopped. See my post to Topaz above.

Mintchip: did you also run Windows Installer Cleanup? Did it make any difference?

I was going to run it, but it gave a warning that said some or all of the programs I've installed may have to be reinstalled, and that scared me off. What are the chances of that happening? There might be things I can't replace, because I no longer have the CDs, and didn't want to take the chance.

As for how to locate large files, I have no good answer for that. You have to use windows explorer and search for them in a methodical way. For example, start with Properties of your user account and see if the volume shown makes sense. If you feel that the volume occupied is too high, look for suspected folder within your user account. It's a trial and error business.

I continued to search as you said and found a folder with music files that I had saved to the wrong place a few of weeks ago. I must have been half asleep when I did that, because I never would have saved it to that location. It was almost 9 GB of wav files, that I ripped from CDs and had intended to transfer to data CDs. I was extremely tired the night I did that, and when I couldn't find the files, I thought there was an error and they had not been saved, or I had done something wrong, then later forgot to do a search. I have now transfered it all to CDs. At the moment, all problems seem to have stopped and the hardrive is back to almost 50% free space. I have low RAM, which is something I need to upgrade, so maybe with such low hardrive space, it was causing problems with my computer being able to access the drive to use for additional memory. :)

Thank to both of you for your help and advice. I really appreciate it. :) :wave:

EDIT: And I forgot to say, I had also installed Nero a couple of weeks ago, and discovered yesterday that it was running several processes constantly, eating up my RAM. I uninstalled it, and performance improved immediately.

Edited by mintchip, 05 November 2008 - 04:44 AM.

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#11
Topaz

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mintchip:

" ... I continued to search as you said and found a folder with music files that I had saved to the wrong place a few of weeks ago. I must have been half asleep when I did that, because I never would have saved it to that location. It was almost 9 GB of wav files, that I ripped from CDs and had intended to transfer to data CDs. I was extremely tired the night I did that, and when I couldn't find the files, I thought there was an error and they had not been saved, or I had done something wrong, then later forgot to do a search. I have now transfered it all to CDs. At the moment, all problems seem to have stopped and the hardrive is back to almost 50% free space. "

I'm sure we've all done some half asleep filing at one time or another :)
Thankyou for reporting back to let us know how things worked out :)

Seriously , keeping track of what is on your Hard Drive can be a real pain , as you've just found .
I strongly suggest Windirstat FREE
OR ,
TreeSize free V2.2.1 FREE
For keeping track in a second where a certain filetype may be lurking , or basically the size of all your directories in an instant , without having to wade through Windows Explorer .

I have low RAM, which is something I need to upgrade, so maybe with such low hardrive space, it was causing problems with my computer being able to access the drive to use for additional memory.

How much RAM do you have ?

As far as Nero , I dumped it and use a Freeware , Ashampoo Burning Studio Free 6.71
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#12
MickDublin

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Hi i had the same problem with ccleaner and recovered the space by doing the following,

Right click on your c drive
Select properties
Click on disk cleanup

The disc clean up then scans and will come back with all available files to delete

one of the files will have a name similar to "index.$" and its size will be equal to that
of the missing space.

Tick this option and select ok

It takes about 5 hours to recover the space but the main thing is it does


Hope This Helps

Mick
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