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Harddrive free space disappearing, how to figure out what it is

Posted on 2012-03-27
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Last Modified: 2012-03-31
I have a win7pro machine using a SSD hard drive. The last few days I have noticed my free space is shrinking. What is a simple way to figure out what is taking up the space or what is growing in size the last few days?  I typically had about 30GB free space, but now only have 18 GB free and have not installed anything that I can remember.
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Question by:wfcrr
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by:Fox85
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I suggest you to check this:

1. See if windows updates were installed and check how many space they are use -> C:\SoftwareDistribution\Downloads
2. See how is configured the amount of space used by System Restore -> http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/5482/make-system-restore-use-less-space-in-windows-7/
3. Look for other (3rd party )application they may consume the free space, like: backup apps, database services, etc.
4. Check the size of Page file -> http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-vista/Change-the-size-of-virtual-memory
5. If you have enabled the hibernation option, then based on your amount of RAM installed on your system the hiberfile.sys file might be consuming free space as well.
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by:McKnife
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Hi.

Download the freeware treesize and unpack it. Now rightclick treesize.exe and select "run as administrator" and scan c: . This will easily show you where the big chunks reside.
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by:wfcrr
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mcknife, is there a site you can recommend that you trust?
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by:McKnife
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http://www.jam-software.com/treesize_free/ - jam sw. is the manufacturer of treesize.
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by:wfcrr
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Ran treesize. I see a pagefile is 8,109 mb,. Is that 8 GB?  Hyberfil.sys is 6,081 MB.  Other large files are my Outlook archive.pst and archive.bak and my .ost. What is a .bak?
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by:Fox85
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Yes, the pagefile is 8GB and that is pretty much ... if you have 6GB of RAM you basically don't need the pagefile

.bak is some sort of recovery file (backup)
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by:McKnife
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The file ending .bak is usually used for Backup files. Could have been created/renamed manually by someone else - to be honest, I don't know if outlook for some reason would create a .bak - if unsure, keep it or at least save it to some kinda backup media.
8.192 is 8 GB, right.

Hiberfil.sys - keep only if needed. You could use the command powercfg -h off to kill it. The command prompt has to be started elevated (rightclick cmd.exe ->run as administrator).

Another question: has all space been accounted for? If a larger amount is missing (when compared to the property info you can get for c:), you will have to run treesize using system rights like this: psexec -s -i treesize.exe (first download psexec, part of pstools). +again that command has to be run elevated.

If all space has been accounted for, what folders are the 5 largest?
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by:wfcrr
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So it seems like about 7 GB is unaccounted for, if I am reading this right. How do I run treesize in elevated?  I don't understand psexec -s -i treesize.exe

At the bottom of the treesize window it says Free Space 20.8 of 78.0 which is same as Win7Pro is telling me.

Windows folder is 19,743.8 MB
Users folder is 16,299.3 MB
The next ten files account for 14,191.3
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by:pgm554
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Number 1,change your virtual memory in the advanced system setting in my computer to 2 gb or less.
Since you have more than 4 gigs a swap file is not even needed.

Also run this:

http://www.verboon.info/index.php/2011/02/removing-backup-files-created-during-windows-7-service-pack-1-installation/

Should get you between 6 and 10 gigs free disk space.
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by:kdebugs
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I use a program called windirstat when checking what's eating up hard drives that I have to deal with.

Very intuitive and gives you an excellent graphical representation of ALL the files in a drive grouped by folder and size.

Highly recommended.

Alex
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by:nobus
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are you using a lenovo?  then it can be the rescue and recovery filling the drive (uninstall it)
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by:StuWhitby
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No clue where you get the idea that pagefile necessity is related to having a specific amount of RAM guys.  It's still dependent on what's running on the system at any given time.  I have 24GB of RAM in my system for running VMs and regularly go over that in usage.  The main thing I want to know from it though is wtf happened in the event of a crash... and I have enough space available to use it for that.

The place where I found most of my OS disk space disappearing was the /users/ subdirectories.  Check the properties of the directories in there and see if it seems excessive.  Internet temp files having a percentage disk usage, downloads of DVD ISOs etc. took up loads of space for me.  

The other main thing that hasn't been suggested so far would be to look at the event logs and see if anything's reporting multiple errors.  If so, it's probably reporting something small in the event logs and spewing loads of info into its own logfiles.

A potential issue is if a logfile has been removed because it's been getting huge but the process is still using it.  tbh, I can't remember what Windows does in this case.... whether it holds the deleted file handle open until the application closes, at which point the disk space is freed up, or whether it will immediately create a new logfile.  May be application dependent.
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by:pgm554
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It's a wndows 7 machine with an SSD,not a file server.

How many times you go through a memory dump on a PC?

I've been in this biz a very long time and can't remember the last time.

Last time I looked at a memory dump ,it was on an NT 4 server box and even then ,it wasn't all that helpful.

There have been many articles written saying that once you're past 4 gigs of physical ram on a pc,a swap file is not needed.

As for other disk hogs,winsxs is a folder that holds a lot of pointer files to patches and such and can be effectively cleaned using this:

http://www.iishacks.com/2011/06/23/reduce-windows-7-winsxs-folder-size/
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by:wfcrr
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ran this dism.exe /online /cleanup-image /spsuperseded and found nothing to remove. Sounds like maybe I want to try deleting the Pagefile? Before I do that, what is that?
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by:Fox85
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by:wfcrr
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thx for that Fox85.  Really not sure what to do now....
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by:kdebugs
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You can change the paging file to a fixed-size. If it's left to be managed by windows and it's growing out of control your problem is elsewhere. This file tends to grow over time, based on usage, but not noticeably so.

Run windirstat so you can see where are the files that are eating up your drive space and report here. It's much easier to give you a hand if you give us more information of what's going on on your end.

Alex
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by:nobus
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maybe you missed my post ?  i asked "are you using a lenovo?  "see above
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by:wfcrr
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Hi Nobus, thanks for checking back with me.  I would very much appreciate your input.  This is a machine I built:

Intel Core i7-2600K 3.4Ghz Unlocked LGA1155 CPU
Gigabyte Z68A-D3H-B3 Intel Z68 LGA1155SLI
Corsair Force GT Series 120GB Solid State
Corsair Vengeance 8GB PC15000 DDR3 1866MHz CL9 2x4
XFX Radeon HD 6870 1GB GDDR5 PCIe, Dual DVI & HDMI
Win7Pro 64 bit
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by:StuWhitby
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Check whether any shadow copies have been created.

  vssadmin list shadows

If there are a lot then either you've set this up yourself to do regular point-in-time backups to allow you to retrieve copies of files or these have been created as system restore points or similar (tbh, I'm not really familiar with exactly what will create these, but I see a number on my system from fairly random times).  I suspect these will be created automatically by Microsoft Update, among other things.  

Set a limit on the size of the shadow copy storage by running

  vssadmin resize shadowstorage /For=C: /On=C: /MaxSize=1000MB

Not sure what that'll do if it's currently over the limit.  I assume it'll delete the oldest ones automatically.  Either that or it will do nothing with the current ones but fail to create new ones (which probably wouldn't be good).  As long as your system is running fine, you can delete the snapshots and just hope you don't need to recover anything from them....
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by:kdebugs
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Hi there,

If you only have 7gb that are unaccounted for, it's likely to be the paging file and someone already suggested to set it to 2gb so it doesn't grow uncontrollably. The page file is used by windows when it runs out of memory (i.e. you have a gazillion internet browser windows open and haven't rebooted the machine in a few days). That's what's called virtual memory, and if left alone, depending on your habits it can really grow.

To run a program with elevated privileges, RIGHT-click on the icon, then select "run as," pick the administrator as the user to run as and enter the password. Either treesize or windirstat will tell you what is taking ALL the space in the hard drive.

If you haven't changed anything, it's either the paging file, temporary files (internet browser cache, which you can clear through the browser's own tools) or temporary files created by windows, some of which aren't cleared even when you ask windows to free up space, so they must be deleted manually.

If you have hybernation enabled (no reason, in my opinion, to do this on a desktop computer), the hybernation file will be as large as the amount of ram you have (8GB in your case).

Alex
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by:wfcrr
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In my power settings I have sleep-never, Hybrid sleep-on,  hibernation after-never, allow wake timers-enable.

What I have running all the time is: I  use 5 monitors. There are always two remote desktop sessions running all day on two of the monitors, I also have two Charting applications running on two monitors, a trading platform running, IE 8 with multiple tabs open all day and many times other instances of IE 8 running multiple tabs in each session, Excel, Outlook and Adobe Acrobat and also a live news feed, all running at the same time, all day. Sometimes a word doc is open.  I also have Omnovia running via an IE 8 window, runs all day with all the other apps up.

I am also attached a screen shot of the treesize report. I see a Hiberfil.sys file listed under the Pagefil and am wondering if the hyberfil.sys should be dealt wtih. Also wondering about the Temp folder high lighted in the pic.
2012-03-30-1927.png
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by:kdebugs
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OK, now we're talking! :-)

5 Monitors! I had a hunch this was a dream machine. Now I know it IS.

Hiberfil.sys is your hibernation file. If you don't hibernate the computer (and I can't see what for), you can get rid of it.

pagefile.sys is your paging file. As another participant said, you can change paging to 2GB fixed.

Whatever's in your temp folders you should be able to delete. Any files currently open will not be deletable, so close all apps or, better yet, reboot and start deleting files before anything else.

IE running with multiple tabs will eventually eat-up your ram. For some reason, browsers, even when left alone, will increase their memory footprint until taking over (this is true of ie, firefox, and chrome, and in the case of firefox and chrome, it's also true under linux - terrible design).

I don't think the two RDP sessions eat up too much ram (or disk space, which is what you're concerned about).

Have fun...

Alex
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by:nobus
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maybe time to increase the ram ?  16 Gb seems better for that much apps
you can always verify with task manager what ram is used
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by:wfcrr
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Yes, thankyou.  It is amazing how fast it is. Almost instantaneous on everything.  Also very stable, never had a PC work this well. Almost feels Mac-ish.

So, what happens if I delete the hyberfil.sys?

Also, what happens when I reduce the Pagefil to 2gb?
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kdebugs earned 84 total points
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Hahahaa! "almost Mac-ish" Love it! :-)

If you delete hyberfil.sys nothing should happen. It might get recreated automatically the next time you hibernate the machine or maybe the OS will re-create it automatically, I don't know. This is the file where ALL the contents of RAM get saved when you hibernate the machine. Other than that, it doesn't do anything but take space.

Reducing the page file's size shouldn't have any impact unless your habits force the computer to rely on swapping memory to hard disk, but I doubt that your memory usage ever gets that bad. One way you can see what your typical memory footprint is is to open task manager at the end of the day and see how much ram is actually being used. If you're well below the whooping 8GB you have, chances are it'll very seldom (if at all) use swapping.

Alex
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