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"Missing" hard-drive space

Posted on 2011-10-31
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Last Modified: 2012-06-27
I have a user strugging with low drive space.  This is a Windows XP SP3 domain member system.  Folder redirection to a network drive is enabled through group-policy for My Documents and Desktop.

Issue started when the user decided to store a bunch of personal stuff (pictures, music) exhausting drive space.  We have deleted the personal items from network drive, deleted local offline copies, and even deleted the users profile from the system.

Issues is that there seems to be some "missing" drive space.  From My Computer, the C drive reports total size 37.2GB, free space 3.61GB.  However, if I open up the C drive, select everything (hidden and system files/folders showing), then go to properties size of all files is reported as 19.1GB.  Looking in Offline Files, I currently show 2.71GB in the cache.  So doing the math, I should have approx 37GB - 19GB (files I can "see") - 3GB (files in cache) = 15GB.  

Does anybody know where else I can look to find my missing 11GB?
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Question by:mds-cos
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Assisted Solution

by:Gerwin Jansen, EE MVE
Gerwin Jansen, EE MVE earned 600 total points
ID: 37057585
You can try and use WinDirStat to locate where your space is used.
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by:rindi
rindi earned 600 total points
ID: 37057597
Maybe turn off System Restore or Delete Restore Points, and then enable System Restore again and create a fresh restore point.
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by:mds-cos
ID: 37057616
Yea, did that.  Sorry, I should have included that in my original problem description.  I also reset the offline file cache.
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by:mds-cos
ID: 37057734
OK, tried winderstats.  It shows exactly the same thing as selecting all files/folders then going to properties.  Does not tell me anything about the "missing" space I'm trying to find.
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by:regmigrant
ID: 37057818
From your responses I would guess you've tried the usual suspects - drive cleanup, delete old MS updates, logs, de-fragment and prune folder tree stucure check virtual storage etc.

Beyond that I would be looking at partition or SMART failure investigation, if the drive is failing the driver may be steadily allocating your 'free space' to cover sectors it expect  

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garycase earned 800 total points
ID: 37057913
One thing this is NOT is "... partition or SMART failure .." :-)     If S.M.A.R.T. sector reallocation was occuring, it would first be transparent (using reserved sectors) ... and later it would report actual drive failure => it does NOT reallocate spares from the already-allocated space [and if it did, the reported drive size would drop along with the available space].

There are several possibilities I can think of that would cause this.    The most likely candidate that comes to mind is Lenovo/IBM's Rescue & Recovery program.    Is this by chance a Lenovo system?    If so, all you have to do is turn off the automated backups [the backups are stored in a hidden ystem folder called RRBackups]       If not, do you have any automated imaging/backup utilities installed on the system?
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by:mds-cos
ID: 37058019
Have not deleted MS updates, but I can see those in the Windows folder so know exactly how much space they are consuming.  Same with logs and such.

I have not tried to defragment, primarily because every time I get into the system it is so low on space that defragment would not work.  I might be able to run that tonight now that I have some working space.  I honestly do not hold out much hope there though....not when I'm trying to find a 11GB chunk of space.

Prune folder tree and check virtual storage?


This is a HP system, so no IBM stuff.  But I did check HP's equiv and did not find anything there.  On our HP's the recovery creates visibale files....but maybe worth digging into that just a bit more to see if they are also doing something on the "we aren't showing you this" side.  But also keep in mind that I am showing all hiden files / folders.  Even the IBM stuff I would be able to see and report on in their hidden folder.  I really think this has to be a Windows XP thing since Microsoft is the only one I've seen breaking the rules by making hidden system areas that do not reveal when properties are set to show hidden and "hidden system" files / folders.

Nope, no automatic imaging.  This is a fresh and generic XP install joined to AD domain.  Basic office automation software (Word, Excel, etc) deployed via group policy.
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by:noxcho
ID: 37058688
Is there windows1 folder on c: drive?
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by:noxcho
ID: 37058716
One way to find a suspect is running o&o defrag trial on this system. It will show where you do have big chunks of data on the disk.
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by:mds-cos
ID: 37059129
Nope, no windows1 folder.  By the way, this is a fresh build.  This user's old machine was in-line to be refreshed, so when she started complaining about wierd problems we just pulled her system and dropped in a replacement system.

First time she logged in everything was synced, exhausing drive space.  So of course the new system started acting just like the old one.  Looked at it and found the issue low (about 119Mb) space.  Made her clean off all her personal stuff so now we shold be fine.  It's just that after she deleted all of her pictures and music, the drive space did not come back to where it should be (yes, emptied the recycle bin).

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by:garycase
ID: 37059339
Although it's not a Lenovo/IBM system, just FYI the RRBackups folder does NOT show any contents even when showing hidden & system files -- not sure how they accomplish that, but it shows zero size.

Not aware of any HP equivalent, however.

Although it's not likely to show anything WinDirStat didn't show, just in case I would run TreeSize [http://www.jam-software.com/freeware/ ].    Be sure you've set the view options in Explorer to show hidden and system files before running it.    If the issue is a hidden system folder somewhere this should show it.

It was suggested above that you turn off System Restore -- and you indicated you already did it.    How much space did that free up?     Also, is hibernation disabled?   [If so, confirm that there are no residual hiberfil.sys entries.
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by:Gerwin Jansen, EE MVE
ID: 37059513
I just thought of this: if you run the standard XP disc defragmentation and run 'Analyze', how large (%) is the unmovable part of the disc? I think it's color is green.
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by:mds-cos
ID: 37060227
Found it!  Altris System Recovery agent pre-loaded on HP systems.  Stange thing is I never used it, but it was sure hogging up the space.  I uninstalled the recovery agent and presto!  All of my drive space returned.  Thanks for all the good input.
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Author Closing Comment

by:mds-cos
ID: 37060235
Thanks for the help guys.  I really do not like programs that hide their disk space usage -- no reason for it other than to make troubleshooting more difficult!
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Expert Comment

by:garycase
ID: 37060529
Sounds like Altris System Recovery is the HP equivalent of Lenovo/IBM's Rescue & Recovery.    I've never been a fan of programs that "backup" your system & data "in place" -- i.e. on the same partition as the data they're backing up => and it's even worse that they make it so "invisible"
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by:mds-cos
ID: 37060795
No, me neither.  I suppose a backup is a backup....but I'd rather have it safely tucked away on another drive!
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