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What's filling up my disk?

After performing a clean install of Windows 10, reinstalling my software and restoring my data, I noticed that my Windows partition was considerably larger than it had been prior to upgrading from Windows 7. At the time, I simply assumed that Windows 10 was larger than Windows 7. I accepted that as a reasonable explanation, but couldn't help but notice other symptoms that my partition was growing. I use Acronis's True Image to create a backup of my partition every day. Those backups took longer and longer as the partition grew.

A couple of months after installing Windows 10, I attempted to create a number of virtual machines using both vSphere and VMware. I was not successful. What is significant about that is that I had trouble removing the virtual disks from my system. Recently, while trying to figure out what was taking up all the space on my disk, I came across a 70 gigabyte file under the Virtual Machines directory tree. When I tried removing it, I was denied access. With the help of experts on this site I managed to overcome that obstacle and get the directory removed. Much to my amazement, that single action reclaimed 500 gigabytes of space!? I don't know where the other 400+ gigabytes came from, but I suspect there was something hidden within the Virtual Machines directory tree. The amount of the C: partition being used went from approximately 800 gigabytes down to 282! The next time I ran a backup, it finished in half the time!

Approximately one week later, the C partition contains almost 650 gigabytes! Last night the backup took almost 7 hours! I don't know what's filling up the C partition. During the last week,  I did try installing Windows 8.1 in a virtual machine. Once again that failed and I removed the Virtual Machines directory. Otherwise, I have made no other attempts to install new software. I couldn't help but notice all of the recent Windows update activity. I don't know whether that's the culprit. The only other thing that occurs to me is that something on my system is populating logs, but I'm not sure what that could be. I used to get a message stating that "Scan to disk has stopped." I have no idea what that is.

I use Dragon speech recognition. I've often suspected it of being responsible for anomalous behavior. Specifically, I believe that it frequently updates some sort of profile data – the result of which is degraded system performance. When it stopped working the other day, I removed and reinstalled it. I wonder whether it's what's gobbling up my partition. I guess there's one way to find out.

Anyway, if anyone can tell me what Windows 10 facilities are available for tracking disk usage, I would appreciate it!
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babyb00mer
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babyb00mer
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5 Solutions
 
greyknight17Commented:
Can you confirm that it's no longer the virtual machines hogging up all those space? I know VMware tends to do this a lot if you suspend or save screenshots. I usually shutdown the virtual machine and then occasionally do a hard disk cleanup within VMware. Not sure if vSphere has similar problems.

I don't remember exactly where Dragon stores its speech files, but I think it's somewhere in the ProgramData or AppData directory. They can become huge especially when they are corrupted speech files.

You can also check your system restore points to see if those are hogging up space. Run the Disk Cleanup to see if you spot anything using too much space. You can click on the button on the bottom that says "Clean up system files" to run a more thorough scan.
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rindiCommented:
Actually Windows 10 uses less space than Windows 7 in a normal installation. So your issue will lie somewhere else, not Windows 10.

Have you really removed all the VM's? Is a backup tool saving backups to your local disk? What software are you running?
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
how are you running VMware vSphere on Windows 10 ?

do you still have any VMware products installed ?
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MereteCommented:
Is there a windows_Old folder? C: Drive
That would ave carried over from windows 7 with all your previous programs pictures music etc
Next
Open your task manager open the tab labelled App History you see what the history is and how big each file is this is safe to delete
Next
Run the disc cleanup, yes it in windows 10 as well, in the search, I have disabled Cortana and use search instead,  r/click Cortana expand the search and show as icon, it looks like a small magnifying glass, type in "  disc cleanup " it will appear at the top as an app desktop  or under setting
This will show what is in the entire system
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Run a tool that illustrates what's taking up your space like Windirstat or Treesize - but run it correctly - see my article:
https://www.experts-exchange.com/articles/28565/Using-Tools-To-Find-What's-Using-Your-Disk-Space.html
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noxchoCommented:
You are seemingly creating the virtual disks for your vms with fixed size and not dynamic deives. Run TreeSize and see what exactly is taking ghe space. It could be snapshots of your vms which you take without turning off the vm.
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babyb00merAuthor Commented:
I ran the TreeSize utility on my Windows partition, and this is what it showed…

TreeSize-screenshot-0.png
Apparently, I do have a Windows_old folder! I also have 602 GB of system volume information in 794 files!

TreeSize-screenshot-1.png
I don't know what they are, where they came from or whether I need them.

If there are no objections, I'll get rid of the Windows_old folder. However, that will only account for a fraction of the additional space I should be able to reclaim.
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babyb00merAuthor Commented:
By the way, the backup program I use for creating disk images is True Image by Acronis. I have removed from its configuration, any stale backup profiles.

I have removed VMware from the system. I have reinstalled Dragon, although I still don't know where its speech files are.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
The large folder System Volume Information, is your OS System Recovery Protection! Turn it off, or reduce the size it's using!

also a few tips here

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/17421/windows-free-up-drive-space
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babyb00merAuthor Commented:
Perhaps I'm looking in the wrong place, but if this is where you configured the facility responsible for generating all those files…

system-recovery-screenshot-0.png
system-recovery-screenshot-1.png
system-recovery-screenshot-2.png
… it appears as though it's already disabled.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
depends when it was configured, or part of Windows upgrade
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babyb00merAuthor Commented:
Oops! I was looking at the wrong drive! :-(

system-recovery-screenshot-3.png
I think this is what I've been looking for!
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babyb00merAuthor Commented:
Now that I know where these files are coming from, I have a decision to make. I'm not averse to the protection afforded by this facility, but I don't think I want to give it unlimited space on my Windows partition.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
it gives you the ability to Rollback!

e.g. System Restore!
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babyb00merAuthor Commented:
Also, it appears as though the System Volume Information folder must reside on the disk you are trying to protect. Is that correct?
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greyknight17Commented:
That is correct. So if you enable it for the D: drive, it will only create a restore point for the D: drive and store it in the main/root folder under D: drive. I usually purge very old restore points after a while and keep the most recent ones.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Correct.
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noxchoCommented:
Instead of using this inbuilt system protection continue using your Acronis or any other third party backup tool. You do not need MS tool if you use already backup tool. So turn it off.
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rindiCommented:
Windows.old get created when you upgrade from a Windows version to another. Those folders contain the old OS. The Cleanup Wizard, if you select to cleanup system files, will take care of those Windows.old folders.

Besides that you also have found.xxx folders. Those get created by chkdsk when it finds things it can't repair. Those folders you can also delete. But since there are such folders, that could indicate a disk going bad. Use the disk manufacturer's diagnostic utility to find out if your disk needs to be replaced or not. If it founds out it needs to be replaced, replace it.
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babyb00merAuthor Commented:
I submitted this question because something was filling up my system partition at an alarming rate. I didn't know the source of the problem, and I'm not a Windows guy, so I speculated about the possible causes. It wasn't until I used TreeSize (a tool recommended by one of the contributors) that I got a clearer picture of what was happening. When I saw that the System Volume Information folder alone was one third the size of the drive's capacity, I figured I had found the culprit. Next I had to figure out what was populating that folder. Once again the contributing experts came to the rescue. The System Volume Information folder is used to store recovery data each time the system creates a checkpoint. I had the option of disabling this feature, or restricting its resources (i.e., the amount of disk it could use). I chose the latter. Now, instead of having an entire terabyte at its disposal, the system recovery facility is confined to 200 gigabytes.

Additionally, I did remove the two windows.old folders, which accounted for another 30 gigabytes. These folders were stubborn, however, and removing them required the use of the freely available "unlocker" utility.

Finally, once I had identified the real culprit, I reinstalled the applications I had unjustly accused! Specifically, those were Nuance's Dragon and VMware Player.
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babyb00merAuthor Commented:
When I noticed that my backups were taking longer, I ran TreeSize again and noticed that my System Volume Information folder had grown to 250 gigabytes! That number appeared to be larger than the amount I recall configuring for the restore point files. Sure enough, when I checked the configuration, the max usage had been reset to 100%!?

28964427.png
I don't know whether something in Windows 10 reset it, or whether I didn't configure it right. So, once again I did the following…

28964427-2.png
Is that the correct way to do it?
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Yes or turn off, if you don't use it.
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