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Backup Drive filled up with what?


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#1
brittonjrs

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I posted this problem under the "Windows Vista and Windows 7" Forum, as the friend who told me about "Geeks to Go" advised, but it doesn't seem to be attracting much attention there, so I thought perhaps the folks who follow this forum might be more interested:

I am using a 500 GB Maxtor "One Touch4 Plus" backup drive to back up my Dell XPS 420 desktop computer, on which I am running the Windows Vista Home Premium operating system. (I've already have heard -- MANY TIMES -- that I shouldn't have picked Vista, so please don't start any replies with that suggestion...)

Because only one of these programs backs up my photos and only the other backs up my email, I'm using BOTH the Maxtor backup software that came with the drive and the Windows "Backup and Restore" software that came with Vista to do my backing up.

The "Computer" utility that I use to see what's on my various drives claims that 398 GB of the Maxtor drive (out of the 465 GB "available") are "used", leaving only 67 GB "free".

However, when I look at the contents of all the folders on the drive (except for the "System Volume Information" folder that I can't see into) they only seem to have about 100 GB of data in ALL of them.

I thought perhaps the problem was that each incremental backup was setting aside a block of disk space that it wasn't necessarily using the whole amount of, so that defragging the disk might free up that space. But it turns out that the disk was set to be defragged every night since I started using it, so if I'm right about the problem, defragging the disk is not a solution for it.

A friend who looked into this for me (and subsequently pointed me in the direction of this forum) suggested that the problem was that a great deal of rubbish was being stored in the "System Volume Information" folder. But if that is the case, it isn't clear how to tell -- or what to do about it.

I'm not having this problem with my hard disk, so I also suspect the backup programs, but that also leaves me with a possible explanation that doesn't have a solution.

Can anyone tell me where the excess 300 GB of space has gone on my backup drive -- and how I can get it back before the drive "fills up"?

Thanks in advance,

Carl Britton
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#2
phillipcorcoran

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The "System Volume Information" folder is where Windows stores it's System Restore points for that drive, and on larg-capacity drives this can account for a very large amount of used space as more restore points are automatically created. There is no way to remove restore points selectively but you can remove them all from that drive in one fell swoop without it affecting the restore points on your system drive.

Go into Control panel (classic view), click on 'System', then System Protection.
Give Windows time to search for for restore points then untick your OneTouch drive and click 'OK'
This will remove all the restore points on that drive and Windows won't make any more restore points for it.
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#3
phillpower2

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Run a diagnostic test on the drive & see what it reports (Maxtor & Seagate are the same company now)
http://www.seagate.c...nloads/seatools
Download & run this ATF Cleaner http://www.atribune....c...5&Itemid=25 delete anything that says file not found
Then download & run this http://www.geekstogo...mp;showfile=187 you may need to manually reboot when it is finished.
Remember to empty the recycle bin before doing the following two
This will tell you how much windows is using http://windirstat.info/
This will provide you with a graph of HDD usage http://www.hdgraph.com/
Vista backs up, up to 15% of your HDD using shadow copy, but it is no where near what is unaccounted for.
What is the computer utility that you are using.
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#4
brittonjrs

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Phil and Phil:

Thanks VERY MUCH for the information about dealing with the "System Volume Information" folder and for the links to the Seagate tools.

Before I act on these suggestions, however, what do you all think of this possible explanation for the volume of data on the drive that I stumbled on today:

I was basing my conclusion about how much stuff was currently on the backup drive by checking the Properties of each "parent" folder, which tells me how many sub-folders and files that folder has in it, and how big it is -- including its sub-folders. I was then keeping a running total of the size of all the parent folders to get an estimate of the size of the DATA on the disc.

One of the parent folders I was including in my running total was the parent folder for the incremental backups made by the Windows "Backup and Restore" program. That program creates a new folder (with sub-folders) every night, in which it stores whatever has changed that day. (Unlike the Maxtor backup program, which -- much more efficiently -- seems to keep its backed-up stuff in a set of folders that mirrors the set of folders on my hard drive, and then separately stores only the latest 10 versions of anything that has been changed from day to day.) There are currently 667 of these sub-folders in the Windows "Backup" parent folder, since I have been backing up my hard drive for a bit over two years.

By default, I do not have permission to see the contents or properties of the sub-folders created by the Windows incremental backups. But since I am the Administrator, all I have to do is click "Continue" and I can GET the permission to see into the incremental backup sub-folders.

Earlier today, I had -- and confirmed -- the sneaking suspicion that the total number of folders/files and the total size that Windows was reporting for the PARENT folder of the incremental backup sub-folders might only be including the incremental sub-folders that I had ALREADY asked permission to see -- about two dozen out of the 667. What I just confirmed was that each time I took a look for the first time into a new incremental backup sub-folder, the total size and number of folders/files in the PARENT folder got slightly bigger.

So, presumably, if I took the time to look into all 667 sub-folders for the first time, the size of the parent folder would gradually balloon into something more like 300 GB, rather than the 20 GB it has always claimed to contain. ("Always" meaning for the last few months, since I first started worrying about this...) If I'm right about this, it could very plausibly account for ALL of the data that Windows claims is on the disc.

The problem this explanation leaves me with, however, is that my friend told me that I would need to keep ALL the incremental backup sub-folders, which Windows would need, along with the original disc image, to restore my system if it crashed. The only way I can see around that is to create a new disc image (initially on my hard drive, since there is no longer room on the backup drive -- if I wait to delete what's currently on the backup drive until AFTER I have successfully created a new disc image) and begin over again with the incremental backups.

Does all of this sound right to you all?

Thanks again,

Carl

P.S.: I see that both of you are from the UK. I'm in New England, and I'm taking the wife and kids to visit relatives for the next two days because of Independence Day (also, ironically, my anniversary...). So I won't see any replies from you until Tuesday next.
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#5
ZaRMan

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Hey Phil and Phil, do you think you can transfer your posts over to the same topic under the Windows Vista and Windows 7 section (so we can collaborate our ideas efficiently) Thanks :)
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#6
brittonjrs

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Good idea! (I was wondering if there was a way to do this. I posted here before you -- Rifat Zaman -- replied on the other forum, and I didn't know what else to do but reply here separately...)

On my way away for Independence Day...

-- Carl
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