something is squatting by hard-disc and needs to be evicted
June 6, 2008 10:25 AM   Subscribe

Where has all the free space on my hard-drive disappeared to??? It does not correspond to TOTAL CAPACITY minus TOTAL FILE SIZE

I have a Thinkpad T61p, running Windows XP SP2.

Drive C has 143GB capacity.

When I bring up the properties for Drive C, it shows 118GB used, 25GB free.

When I go into C:\ and select all files and folders, bring up Properties, it shows 53GB of files occupy 53.1GB on disk. Therefore I should have about 90GB free.

I have viewing of hidden or system files and folders enabled. The Recycle Bin is empty.

What the hell?
posted by randomstriker to Computers & Internet (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How I Found 4 GB of "Lost" Space on my HardDrive. The author suggests a tool called WinDirStat.
posted by GuyZero at 10:31 AM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

I believe Thinkpads have a recovery partition, which may be where all your hard drive space has gone.
posted by Comrade_robot at 10:35 AM on June 6, 2008

Oh, nevermind, the partition wouldn't show up on used/free.
posted by Comrade_robot at 10:43 AM on June 6, 2008

Try something like Spacemonger to see where your space is being used.
posted by jeather at 10:50 AM on June 6, 2008

swap file?

Windows 3.1 and on (at least) like to use part of your hard drive space as a swap file to bring things in and out of RAM.

To hear of such a large swap file is unusual, but not impossible.

Windows is smart enough to not count your swap file as an actual file, hidden system or otherwise. But it would impact your free space.

If you boot off a bootable disk to Ubuntu or something else that can read your partition I'd be curious what it would show...
posted by arniec at 10:50 AM on June 6, 2008

Seconding the swap file and/or other hidden files. Make sure "Show hidden files and folders" is selected from Explorer's Tools->Folder Options->View menu. (Windows does count the swap file as a file; it's called "pagefile.sys".)
posted by uncleozzy at 10:55 AM on June 6, 2008

What you are seeing is the difference between logical file sizes and physical block sizes.

Even very small files will take up one full disk "block." On many modern Windows hard drives, this means they take up 1024 bytes, or so, no matter what size the file is. Windows and Linux (and others) don't use the "left over" space (it can't), so...your each tiny file is taking up thousands of bytes more than it's "reported" size.

Block size determiniation is a balance between performance (hard drives work faster when they read "chunks" of data instead of zillions of little pieces) and storage efficiency. There are tons of treatises on the subject, but they're really only useful for server adminstrators.
posted by catkins at 11:26 AM on June 6, 2008

Do you have System Restore Points enabled? I just did a check on my machine and there was a 4GB difference. Disabled System Restore Points and now they match more closely.
posted by sbutler at 11:35 AM on June 6, 2008

Yeah, if it was formatted to use 64k clusters then there's a lot of wasted space for small files. But a good quality file inventory program will detect that.
posted by GuyZero at 11:41 AM on June 6, 2008

SpaceMonger will show your hard drive space in a graphical manner.
It's free and easy to use. Just open your drive and wait.

Don't get spacemonger 2.x, only get the older 1.4.0 version.
posted by PowerCat at 12:00 PM on June 6, 2008

System Restore might be hiding files on you. Is it turned off on your machine? And how big is your swap file?
posted by blue_beetle at 12:18 PM on June 6, 2008

Things in the trashcan are counted as used space, not free space.
posted by Class Goat at 12:26 PM on June 6, 2008

Response by poster: Already checked all suggestions made so far, and none apply.
posted by randomstriker at 1:16 PM on June 6, 2008

Catkins has the right answer.
posted by Area Control at 1:42 PM on June 6, 2008

What file system is your drive? FAT32 or NTFS?
posted by Class Goat at 2:23 PM on June 6, 2008

Page file, system restore, recycling bin.
posted by PueExMachina at 3:02 PM on June 6, 2008

you could look into the recycler folder of the drive (system protected). There are usually some forgotten recycler bins in there that for some reason don't get deleted when you empty the bin, but you can delete them manually. And another great and free graphical viewer for drives is sequoiaview.
posted by radiobishop at 3:30 PM on June 6, 2008

Response by poster: Unfortunately, Catkins does not have the right answer. All low-hanging fruit have been picked, all suggestions made do not resolve the issue.

Any further, more advanced insights would be appreciated.

File system is NTFS.
posted by randomstriker at 4:04 PM on June 6, 2008

have you checked the c:\system volume information\ folder? you might have to add yourself to the security permissions to actually see the folder size.
posted by bigdave at 7:32 PM on June 6, 2008

What did WinDirStat show for Files, Free Space, and Unknown?
posted by Lazlo at 8:14 PM on June 6, 2008

When you select all files and folders, and bring up Properties, how long are you waiting for it to calculate the total?
It takes windows quite a while to add everything up.
posted by Lanark at 2:16 AM on June 7, 2008

« Older Non-Sharepoint Version Control for Word?   |   Where to take medical machinery to get serviced? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.