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External drive shows used space, but no files visible

Posted on 2011-03-16
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Last Modified: 2012-06-22
I have an external drive with 4 partitions. One of the partitions is 400GB, but it shows as 63GB being used. There are no files visible on the drive, I have the view hidden files option checked, so they are not hidden by windows. I have 2 external drives, this is the 2nd one I installed, and the partition is the last one on the drive. It is the Seagate GoFlex 2 terabyte drive, and it asked me to back up my operating system, but i canceled it, so I cant believe that it would have been able to back up 63GB in that short amount of time that it attempted to do the backup. What I need to know is if it is safe to reformat the drive to recover that space. I just wanted to be sure there would be no critical files windows would have put there (I have a total of 13 partitions on 3 drives - 2 of them external drives), so i cant image that windows would have put any data there. Is it safe to format that drive, or is it safer to delete the volume and recreate it? I can do it via the computer management screen.

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Question by:MikeMCSD
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10 Comments
 
LVL 9

Expert Comment

by:AriMc
ID: 35152523
Try running chkdsk for the drive (ie. if the drive is Z:, then "chkdsk Z:") from command prompt to find any lost files and a general inventory of what is in there.

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Author Comment

by:MikeMCSD
ID: 35152653
I can do that when I reboot and have some time, maybe tonight, but I never moved any files there. It says its in use, but not from any files that I may have put there.
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Accepted Solution

by:
AriMc earned 125 total points
ID: 35152712
Hmm... sometimes I've seen Windows updates to save "undo-files" to the drive that has the most free space available - without asking where to save it. That kind of set of files might be hidden there somewhere.

You could also try "dir Z: /AH" and "dir Z: /AS" on the command line before chkdsk to see any hidden or system files. Somehow I don't trust the Windows explorer to always show everything even with the proper checkboxes switched on.

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Assisted Solution

by:deeshcp
deeshcp earned 125 total points
ID: 35153754
If you did't keep any file in that external drive you, you can just format that drive and see the used space size.

Else you can use attrib as well as dir commands in command prompt to unhide the files and get the list of files present on that drive.

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LVL 47

Assisted Solution

by:noxcho
noxcho earned 125 total points
ID: 35154689
It is possible that your space on this drive is used by VSS snapshots. So I would feel free to format this drive. If you do not see your usable data on it - go on and format it.
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Assisted Solution

by:Ashok Dewan
Ashok Dewan earned 125 total points
ID: 35154821
If you want to see. why is your space is occupied then try some data. then i will recommend you to use
"Getdata back" software or X way forensics to veiw your meta data and raw data. because some times you delete some data even then that data still on your HDD. and also some times when disk error logs created then they use your hdd space so, you should 1st use "chkdsk" becaue if there is an error then it will automatically correct, then you can use any data recovery softwares because they can show you meta data and raw data.
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LVL 16

Author Comment

by:MikeMCSD
ID: 35187026
Thanks for replies, I ran check disk, it found no errors so i will format it. I suspect it was data that the backup was trying to do before i stopped it, I am sure windows did not put the data there, because i have a lot of drives, and i accounted for the windows updates.
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Author Comment

by:MikeMCSD
ID: 35187039
Thank you
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LVL 16

Author Comment

by:MikeMCSD
ID: 35194489
The person who asked this question wasnt' me,  MikeMCSD.
I rasied the points to 500 and want to accept and close the question
but it says I need to cancel this request first.
Thanks
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Expert Comment

by:Brett_Dux
ID: 35950712
recycle bin - check files are not sitting there !
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