Where's my disk space?
April 26, 2008 6:59 PM   Subscribe

My Dell XPS M1710 required a complete windows re-install (XP SP2 Media Centre). All went swimmingly (if not labouriously) until I went to re-install other programs. My 110Gb hard disk now only has 2 Gb free. Where are the the other 95Gb and how do I get access to it?

I only have one partition on this drive.
Looking at file list (including both hidden and system files), I can only account for about 20 Gb.

The file list is:
Dell - 270 Mb
Documents and Settings - 1.73 Gb
Program Files - 8.5 Gb
WINDOWS - 3.86 Gb
Pagefile.sys - 1.57 Gb
posted by dangerousdan to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm confused - is Windows XP then misrepresenting the size of the drive? If you select the drive from "My Computer" and go to "Properties", what does Windows report as the total capacity and what does Windows report as the amount of space in use?
posted by kbanas at 7:07 PM on April 26, 2008

kbanas - the free and used data are taken from the information displayed in "properties". The file sizes are taken from explorer. As this is a reinstall, I know that the drive actually is 110Gb and should fit a lot more stuff on it.

If Windows is displaying the incorrect data, why and how do I fix it? This was not a problem with the previous installation (and I have used the recovery disks that came with the computer to reinstall).
posted by dangerousdan at 7:14 PM on April 26, 2008

You'll probably have a hiberfil.sys on there, too, that's equal to your installed RAM for hibernation (though that might only be created when needed). Also, your pagefile will grow and shrink as needed, I think. There are also various registry files that won't be shown by explorer. Nevertheless, those files should not account for all the disk space that is missing.

Are you certain that you didn't create a new partition when you installed?

WinDirStat will assist you in finding what the largest files and directories are on your hard drive. Highly recommended. (Mac heads: Disk Inventory X).
posted by eafarris at 7:18 PM on April 26, 2008

Do this: Go into Start -> Run -> type: chkdsk /r c:

It will tell you that it can't do it right now, and ask if you want to do it next time:
Chkdsk cannot run because the volume is in use by another 
process.  Would you like to schedule this volume to be 
checked the next time the system restarts? (Y/N)
Type "Y" and hit Enter. Then restart your computer, and before Windows boots up again, it will scan the hard drive and fix any problems it can.
posted by spiderskull at 7:25 PM on April 26, 2008

Go to Control Panel, Administrative Tools and then Computer Management

Under there, on the left hand side is a Disk Management option, click that and you'll be shown a graphical representation of your physical disks. The Disk0 will likely be your main hard drive. Do you see any unallocated space to the right of your 20GB partition? If you do, all that's happened is when you reinstalled windows, it only allocated a small percentage of your drive for usage.

You can right click the unallocated space and create a new partition (which would create a new drive letter), but you'll most likely want to grow your partition to fill the entire disk. You can resize it for free with QParted. There's also Hirens Boot CD, which has a lot of useful tools, but I think it's essentially a collection of pirated programs, so legally/morally you may wish to avoid.

Commerical offerings include Nortons Partition Magic and Acronis' Disk Director.
posted by Static Vagabond at 7:41 PM on April 26, 2008

Steffen Gerlach's Scanner is a really quick and easy way to see what's taking up space on a drive. (An alternative to WinDirStat mentioned above)
posted by Busy Old Fool at 7:54 PM on April 26, 2008

Static Vagabond -- Good point about the partitions. I wonder, though, why it wouldn't just take the whole hard drive (which is the default).

An alternative to editing partitions is to download an Ubuntu CD and use their "Partition Editor" tool. Mefimail me if you decide to take this path and need further help.
posted by spiderskull at 9:18 PM on April 26, 2008

Thanks for the information so far. Using the suggestions above I have run chkdsk (another Gb freed up!), ensured that I have only one partition (a 110.39 Gb NTFS Disk0 as the only and primary partition), and checked that the information from explorer is accurate - if somewhat incomplete (WinDirStat seems to be great little program).

WinDirStat has identified that I have a 92.7Gb "" on my C drive. This seems to be the missing space but I have no idea what or where it is (I cannot open it or use any of the right click functionality in WinDirStat).

Any ideas?

posted by dangerousdan at 9:41 PM on April 26, 2008

The information shown on WinDirStat is "<>" - damn HTML formatting.
posted by dangerousdan at 9:56 PM on April 26, 2008

Sounds like the FAT table on your NTFS partition is rather buggered - that file definitely shouldn't be there, and probably isn't as such. Since chkdsk doesn't fix it, and since you've just done a clean reinstall anyway, I'd be tempted to do another reinstall - and format the partition fully if you get offered the option. Hell, I'd be tempted to blow the partition away entirely with a qtparted boot cd, then clean reinstall.
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:39 AM on April 27, 2008

Actually, I've just remember one other tool you can try that doesn't cost money - testdisk - if it is file table corruption, you can restore the backup copy of the MFT using that.
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:43 AM on April 27, 2008

SpaceMonger has been invaluable for me when it comes to quickly finding out where disk space went (get the old 1.x version, works fine)
posted by TravellingDen at 9:06 AM on April 27, 2008

« Older Poopdrops keep fallin' on my head...   |   Safe Passage in Pakistan Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.