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Hard disk mysteriously full

Posted on 2006-06-16
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Last Modified: 2008-02-07
Hi experts,
I've got a laptop with a 40 GB hard drive, Windows XP home, SP2, that my wife uses. It's not heavily used, only MS Office really, and has anti-virus and spyware running on it. Normally I'd have expected it to have loads of HDD space, but recently she brought it to me saying it was telling here it had run out of space.
Looking with Explorer, it had only about 100 MB free. I tried to locate any big files, and found few over 10 MB. I found a large number of .cab files which I thought were used update files, so I deleted them, but that now still only leaves it with 33.8 GB used, 1.12GB free.
If I search for *.* using Explorer, I only find about 400MB total of files >10MB
If I use a program called Disktective which I find quite handy for analysing disk usage, it show the vast majority is used by "Windows" - 29.4 MB, 89% of which is "Installer" - but it can't show me exactly what these files are.
So wherever the majority of the used space is, I can't account for it and free it up.
Can you help please?
Thanks,
Stuart
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Question by:StuartOrd
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LVL 15

Expert Comment

by:venom96737
ID: 16925596
sounds like you got yourself a nasty little virus run antivirus software and see if it clears it up.  I like pandasofts free active scan but use whatever you have you could also run hijackthis and see if you can analyze the log at http://www.hijackthis.de/en and post a link to the log here see if we cant sort it out.
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Assisted Solution

by:nobus
nobus earned 50 total points
ID: 16925768
did you run a scandisk for errors, or chkdsk /f yet? can help.
If a virus is suspected, i always run ALL these, updated :

     adaware :      http://www.lavasoftusa.com/
     Spybot :        http://www.download.com/3000-8022-10122137.html
http://housecall.trendmicro.com/                                                               online scan for trojans
http://www.spychecker.com/program/hijackthis.html                                   download
http://www.hijackthis.de/index.php?langselect=english                                check the log
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Author Comment

by:StuartOrd
ID: 16925789
Our virus checker AVG (Grisoft) is up to date and has been run
Adaware and Spybot have been run
The hijackthis logfile is here: http://www.hijackthis.de/logfiles/8a6e934d3c43510f85f3b729e323c452.html
I'll try scandisk now
Thanks
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LVL 92

Assisted Solution

by:nobus
nobus earned 50 total points
ID: 16925906
you should remove this one :

R0 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search,SearchAssistant =

Do you use the ASAP software? if not, remove that too
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LVL 15

Expert Comment

by:venom96737
ID: 16925952
ok no virus so the deal is probably a bad harddrive if scandisk doesnt fix it then run the diagnostic tool from the website of the maker of the drive if it reports bad sectors it cant fix you have 2 options do a low level format and hope it cures it or replace the drive.
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LVL 70

Expert Comment

by:Merete
ID: 16926089
could be filling up the restore and temp foders,
go to start all programs accessories  system tools disc cleanup, run  it,
it will calculate C drive  but before you run the disc cleanup go to More Options remove all but the most recent restore point.
click on cleanup
You can also reduce the amount of disc space to allow for system restore: r/click my computer in yoru startup menue as some desktop icons are just shortcuts> properties system restore> here you can see the settings menue click on this and reduce it to 1% which is about 1098 megs and is sufficient.
Another area is internet explorer saves all your temp files to temporary folder you can change how much storage space by opening the settings in IE6 internet options.
Reduce it around 200 megs.
drfragging will improve disc size and allocation of files.
R/click C drive properties defrag and hit the analyze to see if there a lot of red, once it analyzes you'll have to close the analyse to see the graph.



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Author Comment

by:StuartOrd
ID: 16926252
Tried to use pandasoft and it was taking hours (literally) - so stopped unfinished. However it was spending a lot of time in a path which wasn't shown in full but had ...installer... in it. Sounds like the section identified by disktective. However I can't find it with windows explorer. Does this suggest anything?
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LVL 30

Assisted Solution

by:callrs
callrs earned 25 total points
ID: 16926364
http://www.ccleaner.com/                CCleaner - Crap Cleaner free software download - Spyware FREE
"CCleaner is a freeware system optimization and privacy tool. It removes unused files from your system - allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. It also cleans traces of your online activities such as your Internet history. But the best part is that it's fast (normally taking less that a second to run) and contains NO Spyware or Adware!"
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LVL 15

Expert Comment

by:venom96737
ID: 16927093
You cant get anymore of the path than just installer????????
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LVL 15

Assisted Solution

by:venom96737
venom96737 earned 25 total points
ID: 16927096
tell you what run windows installer cleaner see what it comes up with it can be found here http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;290301
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LVL 70

Accepted Solution

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Merete earned 25 total points
ID: 16928129
Have you checked the recycler bin is empty?
at start>run>
type in CMD press enter  and type chkdsk C

if you have Norton File Protection (which comes with Norton Utilities), turn that off as well for that drive.
Opened the Disk Mgmt console and look at the partition reports.
If you manually select all the files and folders and check the "size on disk", it's reporting ???.  But if you look at the properties of the drive, it shows ???? in use.
rebooting may fix this.

Check your Folder Options - View settings again. Do you have:

Show hidden files and folders selected? enable show all.
Hide protected operating system files unchecked?

Use JDiscReport to check as well.
JDiskReport is a disk analysis utility, that allows you to view disk space usage with the help of graphical, interactive pie charts
http://www.snapfiles.com/get/jdiskreport.html
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Author Comment

by:StuartOrd
ID: 16945904
Thanks, sorry I've been distracted from this one.
Yes, recycle bin is empty.
JDisc is great - got it running on my PC now - but it won't work on the problem one as too little disk space! Also it needs Java and the setup says the Java installation is faulty.
Yes, folder options were hidden files visible. No, I hadn't revealed hidden op system files before.
I can now see the c:\Windows\Installer folder. It has 26 GB in 1800 or so files. Many of these are the same size. So I've deleted them, and I've got the space back. Great!
Many thanks.
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LVL 70

Expert Comment

by:Merete
ID: 16946759
cool, your wellcome and thank you
Merete :)
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Expert Comment

by:dmjend
ID: 23850517
If you use file synchronization it can sometimes create multiple copies of the cached copy thus filling up the drive.
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