Windows XP disk free space won't increase
Posted on 2013-06-10
I didn’t find a previous problem/solution either on Experts Exchange or elsewhere that exactly fits the following situation. I have already taken whatever steps that I find recommended elsewhere.
I have an XP Pro machine on my home network that has a problem with the reported free disk space. (Yes, I know that MS XP support will go away early in 2014, which will need to be addressed, but I still have to do the system support on it in the meantime.)
This started when my wife complained how slow the machine was getting. I hadn’t looked at the disk in some time but, when I did, noticed that it was nearly (perhaps within a few megabyes) out of free disk space, which I know will cause Windows to run very slowly or possibly stop functioning altogether. So I started looking for files to archive/delete and initially was able to free up a little over 3 GB. (The entire disk is a small one – only 30 GB.) So far, so good, and the machine does run faster.
But I also noticed that the disk is badly defragmented. However, before I ran the defrag (which requires that I back up the entire system, not just the data), I wanted to try finding more files to archive/delete to get even more free space before I ended up back in the same situation reasonably soon. More free space would also speed up the defrag process.
The problem is that I have twice deleted more files (a little less than 1GB the first time but well over 2 GB the second time) and neither time did the reported free space in Windows Explorer go up.
So far, I have taken the following steps:
• Run chkdsk c: from the command (cmd) screen. (This reported that there were unallocated sectors that were being reported as allocated.)
• Run chkdsk c: /f during startup (by setting the flag through the properties dialog in Windows Explorer). Unfortunately, I can’t freeze the screen when the results of this are reported in order to know what the results were but it did run to conclusion before the system rebooted normally.
• I don’t have the system disk for this machine (a reconditioned Dell Optiplex shipped from a 3rd party through a well-known online distributor) so I created an Active@ boot CD and ran chkdsk c: /f again with the hard disk volume dismounted. The only out-of-ordinary message was “3 reparse records reprocessed” but this is a condition I have seen on other XP and Win 7 disks that doesn’t seem to be relevant..
I have repeated the above at least twice (perhaps 3 times – the true sign of insanity) and the free disk space doesn’t change. I have also emptied the Recycle Bin and rerun chkdsk using the Active@ boot CD, again with no increase in the reported free space.
My question is whether I can run the disk defrag and feel confident of both not causing further harm and also correcting the reported amount of free space. I have read that running defrag is not a good idea when chkdsk reports bad sectors (since it might attempt to place active file data there) but no bad sectors have been reported whenever I’ve run chkdsk, either from within Windows, during Windows reboot or when booted from Active@.
I will appreciate expert advice.