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Windows 7 - suddenly lost a lot of disk space

    Question

  • I just upgraded from winXP to win7 professional, 32-bit. My hard drive is 80GB and until yesterday, I had about 24GB free.

    Yesterday, I had to uninstall and reinstall Office and as part of that process, I had taken a backup of my settings using Windows Easy Transfer. I stored only "Program Settings" in the file and the file was on my desktop, and it was about 9GB.

    After reinstall, I copied the settings over and deleted the transfer file. Suddenly, when I saw my C: drive it had only 7GB free!

    If I add up the various folders I get up to only about 54GB, so all of a sudden I seem to have lost about 16-17GB of disk space.

    How do I recover that?

    Wednesday, June 23, 2010 4:10 PM

Answers

  • Hi,

     

    Please go to Folder Options, check “Show hidden files, folders, and drives” and uncheck “Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)”, click OK. Then open C: / drive, press Ctrl +A to select all files and right click Properties to see how much disk space is used.

     

    Generally speaking, several factors can occupy the disk space. You may visit the following blog and know where the disk space goes.

    Disk Space consumed by Windows 7

    Also there are several ways to free disk space in Windows 7, please take the following methods:

    1.     Run Disk Cleanup.

    2.     Remove or uninstall unwanted programs.

    3.     Disable page files.

    4.     Disable System Restore.

    5.     Disable Hibernation.

    6.     Remove unwanted Windows Features.

     

    Best Regards

    Dale


    Please remember to click “Mark as Answer” on the post that helps you.
    Thursday, June 24, 2010 6:32 AM
    Moderator

All replies

  • There were some PST files that were duplicated, but even after removing them, I see that my current used space is about 51GB (select all folders/files in C: and right-click/properties), my free space is about 15.7GB, so I am still off by a lot.
    Wednesday, June 23, 2010 4:23 PM
  • RPMM,

    You might want go to searching for files and folders with the Show hidden files, folders, and drives option on (Alt-T in Windows Explorer -> Folder Options -> View Tab).

    I know Office usually has a copy of its install media in the root C: drive, called MSOCache i think.

    Good luck.

    Shroom

    Wednesday, June 23, 2010 10:18 PM
  • Shroom,

    I understand that, but how big can Office install be? It is certainly in the 200-300MB range. I seem to be missing about 15-18GB :-(

    Wednesday, June 23, 2010 10:30 PM
  • I had the same issue and spent tens of hours hunting down the problem.

    It's the Backup & Restore from the Win7 install.

    At install it asks how much of the system disc you want to dedicate.

    I have a RAID0 setup with mirrors and shadows. The shadows are taking up tons of space as are the Restore Points and hyberfile.sys.

    It drove me crazy trying to solve it.

    Thursday, June 24, 2010 12:09 AM
  • Hi,

     

    Please go to Folder Options, check “Show hidden files, folders, and drives” and uncheck “Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)”, click OK. Then open C: / drive, press Ctrl +A to select all files and right click Properties to see how much disk space is used.

     

    Generally speaking, several factors can occupy the disk space. You may visit the following blog and know where the disk space goes.

    Disk Space consumed by Windows 7

    Also there are several ways to free disk space in Windows 7, please take the following methods:

    1.     Run Disk Cleanup.

    2.     Remove or uninstall unwanted programs.

    3.     Disable page files.

    4.     Disable System Restore.

    5.     Disable Hibernation.

    6.     Remove unwanted Windows Features.

     

    Best Regards

    Dale


    Please remember to click “Mark as Answer” on the post that helps you.
    Thursday, June 24, 2010 6:32 AM
    Moderator
  • Hi Dale,

    With operating system files visible, I see 54GB used. So no real difference. I have noticed though, that there are some protected folders which show space used as 0 bytes and I cannot view them. 

    As for the options:

    1. Disk cleanup - this is projecting less than 2GB of space savings. 

    2. I have removed pretty much all the unwanted programs. 

    3. What is the downside of disabling page files? 

    4. I think disabling System Restore is not a good idea ... for recovery options. 

    5. Can I "sleep" if I disable hibernation? 

    6. I have checked windows features and nothing special has been installed that I can safely remove. 

     

    The point is, how can it suddenly apparently use up that much space? It looks like there is some hidden file(s) that I cannot see which is taking up the space.

    Another point to note - I am using a 4GB ReadyBoost USB stick. Just fyi. 

    Also, I have set up Windows Backup and have completed one initial backup to an external USB drive. Also, just fyi. 

    Thursday, June 24, 2010 3:48 PM
  • Dale told me the same stuff. I did none of it for many reasons. It's not what's causing massive size on disc in Windows 7.

    Are you logged on as Baby Admin or real Admin which can only be done through Group Policy?

    Thursday, June 24, 2010 8:11 PM
  • I am logged in as a user who is a local admin on the machine. not "Administrator". 
    Thursday, June 24, 2010 9:03 PM
  • This tutorial shows how to log on as a true admin. With that hopefully you will be able to see what's taking up the disc space.

    For me it was the Backup, Restore and Hyberfil

     

    http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/507-built-administrator-account-enable-disable.html

    Note this is not a Microsoft link meaning you use it at your own risk.

    Thursday, June 24, 2010 11:06 PM
  • Hi Dale,

    With operating system files visible, I see 54GB used. So no real difference. I have noticed though, that there are some protected folders which show space used as 0 bytes and I cannot view them. 

    As for the options:

    1. Disk cleanup - this is projecting less than 2GB of space savings. 

    2. I have removed pretty much all the unwanted programs. 

    3. What is the downside of disabling page files? 

    4. I think disabling System Restore is not a good idea ... for recovery options. 

    5. Can I "sleep" if I disable hibernation? 

    6. I have checked windows features and nothing special has been installed that I can safely remove. 

     

    The point is, how can it suddenly apparently use up that much space? It looks like there is some hidden file(s) that I cannot see which is taking up the space.

    Another point to note - I am using a 4GB ReadyBoost USB stick. Just fyi. 

    Also, I have set up Windows Backup and have completed one initial backup to an external USB drive. Also, just fyi. 


    Type: diskmgmt.msc in the Search box and open Disk Management to see how much disk space is recognized, see if there is any unlocated space.

    Best Regards

    Dale


    Please remember to click “Mark as Answer” on the post that helps you.
    Friday, June 25, 2010 2:15 AM
    Moderator
  • you can use 3rd party program, TreeSizeFree (http://www.jam-software.com/treesize_free/download.shtml) it's free

    This program will show you which folder that consume your free space

    Friday, June 25, 2010 2:23 AM
  • -> 1. Disk cleanup - this is projecting less than 2GB of space savings. 

    You should try this anyway.  Make sure all the boxes are checked.

    -> 3. What is the downside of disabling page files? 

    Possibly poor performance until you re-enable it.

    -> 4. I think disabling System Restore is not a good idea ... for recovery options. 

    Don't disable it then.  But while you're doing the Disk Cleanup, click the "Other Options" tab and tell it to clean up System Restore and Shadow Copies.  Uninstalling Office and reinstalling it created two system restore points.  Any other installations/removals - including Windows Updates - possibly created more.

    -> 5. Can I "sleep" if I disable hibernation?

    Yes.  You just won't be able to hibernate.  But the hibernation file isn't dynamic, it should always be about the same size as the amount of RAM installed; if it exists it hasn't gotten any larger or smaller since Windows was installed - so that's not where your space went.

    Friday, June 25, 2010 2:45 AM
  • Bob, thanks. I ran the disk cleanup and chose all options. Does not look like it has made much of a difference. 

    I am still "missing" close to 10GB. :-(

    Friday, June 25, 2010 4:46 PM
  • Dale,

    Disk Management shows the disk to be 74.5GB, and that is what I see in windows explorer as well. I have about 52GB used and 13GB free, so I am still about 9GB "off" from understanding where my usage is :-(

    Friday, June 25, 2010 4:49 PM
  • Well, as Robby said above, you might want to dig a bit deeper into your file structure to see what's taking up all the extra space.  He mentioned one free tool to do that, here's another that I like: http://windirstat.info/.  

    You might also want to check out Ccleaner from Piriform (http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner) and let it scan your system and do its thing - carefully - depending on what you tell it to clean, you could easily erase all your preferences and saved login/password info for web sites.

    Friday, June 25, 2010 6:45 PM
  • Hi RPMM,

    Did you CHKDSK /F to your disk? In every partition? I haven't seen the comment on this post. Please record the results for us.

    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/ee872425.aspx

    Alfredo Arizaleta

    Disclaimer: This posting is provided "AS IS" with no express or implied warranties or rights.
    Saturday, June 26, 2010 2:36 AM
  • I still say it's the Backup, Restore, Hyberfile disc consumption. I went bananas for a week being told by good intentioned folks on here everything that this person's being told. I finally figured it out on my own.

    Anyone who puts Windows 7 on a good sized disc and tells the system at install to allocate a good sized chunck to the above referenced functions will see a huge size on disc and have no explanation for it until they dig into it.

    If you look at disc size and the free space on the disc, the math does not work. But once you see what got allocated where it all makes sense. The reason less free space is shown is because the OS has reserved (and/ or used) the space.

    Saturday, June 26, 2010 3:04 AM
  • Dale,

    Disk Management shows the disk to be 74.5GB, and that is what I see in windows explorer as well. I have about 52GB used and 13GB free, so I am still about 9GB "off" from understanding where my usage is :-(


    Since only 74.5 GB size is recognized in Disk Management, I am assuming that the OS may reserve the space as system partition && WinRE partition. Please boot in BIOS to check how much disk space is recognized.

    Best Regards

    Dale


    Please remember to click “Mark as Answer” on the post that helps you.
    Monday, June 28, 2010 2:18 AM
    Moderator
  • Dale,

    A couple of things:

    1. Isn't 74.5GB the approximate amount of space when the disk is marketed as 80GB drive? 

    2. In any case, the math does not seem to add up to 74.5 either. Assuming 74.5 is being detected correctly, I was hoping to see used space + free space = 74.5. At this point it is not. 

    I will run those space allocation software recommended above and see what I find. 

    Monday, June 28, 2010 3:53 PM
  • Dale,

    A couple of things:

    1. Isn't 74.5GB the approximate amount of space when the disk is marketed as 80GB drive? 

    2. In any case, the math does not seem to add up to 74.5 either. Assuming 74.5 is being detected correctly, I was hoping to see used space + free space = 74.5. At this point it is not. 

    I will run those space allocation software recommended above and see what I find. 


    1. The approximate amount of space is designed by the hard drive manufacturer, it is due to the preserved space used for hardware initialization.

    2. The missing 9 GB space might be hidden. As others suggest, you could run space allocation software to test. Or you could start Windows from installation disc, boot in the Install Windows panel and see how much disk space is detected.

    Best Regards

    Dale


    Please remember to click “Mark as Answer” on the post that helps you.
    Tuesday, June 29, 2010 2:14 AM
    Moderator
  • I think winsxs is taking your comp space... which increase with age of OS and applications installed....
    Friday, July 02, 2010 1:33 AM
  • The hard links in Winsxs don't take up extra space, but you can't tell by looking at the folder properties.

    Have you looked at what System Restore (SR) is doing in the Task Scheduler?  Every day, it backs up every changed file.

    Friday, July 02, 2010 3:28 AM
  • technocrate's response is a direct lift of Shubham's post at http://social.answers.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/w7hardware/thread/b5c72765-f0d8-4f88-ab80-23e677649114. technocrate has then placed a questionable link at the end of this response - a bit.ly url.  

    This behavior is the "norm" for technocrate - lifting others posts and dropping them in other threads where the dropped response may or may not be relevant to the discussion at hand, and not crediting the source.   This has problems because it adds noise to the thread and often confuses the original poster.  It also fails to credit the original composer of the advice, and since technocrate does not post original material, technocrate is unable to respond when the original poster has further questions or requires clarification.

    Friday, July 02, 2010 10:37 AM
  • This is what I think about win 7 - 64 bit.

     I am a professional graphic designer. I have run and operated many different systems in my 27 years of working as a graphic designer and in my opinion; win 7 - 64 bit is a pig.  It uses tons of space that no one in Microsoft can seem to give a straight answer too,  why they made it that way your guess is as good as mine.. the best answer they have is hard drives are cheap just buiy another HDD.. let me tell you a 60 gig SSD drive is not cheap in my book. At $180 a pop, unless your Bill Gates.

    I currently have a desk top Intel i7- 980 extreme, with 12 gigs of ram and a 2 gig GTX Nvida graphic card. Running windows 7 professional 64 bit

    I set it up to have a 55 gig corsair SSD 20x gig speed drive especially dedicated just for the OS. 

    I have a 1TB HDD drive for my program’s such as Adobe creative suite CS4 & CS5  and my 3D animation programs. Like Daz and 3D max and poser I use for rendering movie animation, along with a few other programs.. I also have a 2 TB HDD drive for storage for my business & graphic design files etc. which I also had to use also now for my system back up. Because I had to disable the system restore in the OS because it was taking up to much space... which I feel is not a good thing to do but I had to have the space.

    I got this computer January 27 2011 to replace my XP pro 64 bit and as of today Feb 26 2011 My SSD drive is completely full.. Mind you I have nothing on it but OS system on it..

    Now before I installed anything on my new system when I got it.  I shut off the system restore and the hibernating features page-fiiling and indexing all the other features I would not use.  I over clocked the system by 10% to give me a extra boost during long renders

    Now today feb 26 2011 windows went to update today and couldn’t because my SSD drive is completely full.  GUESS WHAT?  I don’t care. I refuse to let windows use any other of my other drives and I’m not buying anymore for the OS.

     Hard drives to me are not cheap, and plus I have 3 hard drive now so why do I need more just for a pig of an operating system which should only use a ¼ of the 55 gig drive its on now.  I am very very disappointed with Windows 7 64 bit. And I will not recommend it to any of my clients. Because Microsoft doesn’t seem to really care about addressing issues with this fat pig of a system eating up a lot of space.  In Double files and double file naming.  Not to mention the x986) program file for win 32 programs.  And a lot of software companies are not supporting win7 64 bit.

    . So I refuse to let windows use any of my other drive for their OS . I think 55 gig is way more than enough.  So if any of you want a screaming machine at this point that you will need to buy hard drives about every month for to satisfy the operating system.  I will gladly sell you my computer for $2800  that is $300 less than I paid for it to be built. so I can get  a different machine and operating system

    Sunday, February 27, 2011 6:16 PM
  • It's their way of stalking you. They copy these files just like they hit their own server in Redmond, WA every time you search YOUR LOCAL DRIVE. Don't believe me? Put Wireshark or any other network traffic capture device on your system and see for yourself.
    Sunday, February 27, 2011 6:43 PM
  • Just wanna share.. Just like Ivy Summers, I am a professional graphics designer and operated different systems in the past years, I now use windows 7 and noticed that im losing 52GB of un-accounted disk space on my C drive.  I tried the disk cleaning programs from windows and some freewares but only managed to free up a very minimal amount of space. I already gave up and decided to buy a new drive, but since I don't have the money and time yet to purchase a new one, I kept researching for the time being and stumbled on "Windows Restore Service". I found out that this service creates shadow copies of windows which is accumulating every time the system updates. In my understanding, I think it backs-up the previous version of the system and does this every time it updates. I guess it's for recovery purposes..

    Now..

    To remove these files and free up more space, open Command Prompt then "Run as administrator"..

    on C prompt, type vssadmin - c:\vssadmin

    It will then show the commands supported..

    to view the files, choose "list shadows" - c:\vssadmin list shadows

    in my case, I found over 20 files..

    to view the percentage used by the shadow storage - c:\vssadmin list shadowstorage

    If you see that they are using too much storage, you can delete them by typing the command - c:\vssadmin delete shadows

    you will now see the options for this command..

    first I tried to delete one - c:\ vssadmin delete shadows /for=c:/oldest

    then I checked my C drive on windows explorer and my free space went almost 2GB up..

    repeated the command and got more free space on my disk..

    then I decided to delete them all.. c:\vssadmin delete shadows /for=c: /all

    checked my C drive again and got all back my missing 52GB disk space..

    after this, I backed-up my system again.. 

    Hope this helps..

     


    • Edited by Row3llD Friday, September 16, 2011 5:53 PM
    • Proposed as answer by TSunil Thursday, September 22, 2011 6:39 PM
    Wednesday, August 10, 2011 7:21 PM
  • Just wanna share.. Just like Ivy Summers, I am a professional graphics designer and operated different systems in the past years, I now use windows 7 and noticed that im losing 52GB of un-accounted disk space on my C drive.  I tried the disk cleaning programs from windows and some freewares but only managed to free up a very minimal amount of space. I already gave up and decided to buy a new drive, but since I don't have the money and time yet to purchase a new one, I kept researching for the time being and stumbled on "Windows Restore Service". I found out that this service creates shadow copies of windows which is accumulating every time the system updates. In my understanding, I think it backs-up the previous version of the system and does this every time it updates. I guess it's for recovery purposes..

    Now..

    To remove these files and free up more space, open Command Prompt then "Run as administrator"..

    on C prompt, type vssadmin - c:\vssadmin

    It will then show the commands supported..

    to view the files, choose "list shadows" - c:\vssadmin list shadows

    in my case, I found over 20 files..

    to view the percentage used by the shadow storage - c:\vssadmin list shadowstorage

    If you see that they are using too much storage, you can delete them by typing the command - c:\vssadmin delete shadows

    you will now see the options for this command..

    first I tried to delete one - c:\ vssadmin delete shadows /for=c:/oldest

    then I checked my C drive on windows explorer and my free space went almost 2GB up..

    repeated the command and got more free space on my disk..

    then I decided to delete them all.. c:\vssadmin delete shadows /for=c: /all

    checked my C drive again and got all back my missing 52GB disk space..

    after this, I backed-up my system again.. 

    Hope this helps..

     


    I had the same issue in my windows 7 system and found the solution is the one provided by Row.Thank you very much...
    Thursday, September 22, 2011 6:42 PM
  • Like others, I uninstalled Office and gained 17GB, then lost it all in the first reboot - it turned out that windows had done hibernate, system restore points x2 and increased the pagefile size.
    Friday, September 07, 2012 5:53 AM
  • Thanks for the post Row3llD, I tried what you did with the Command c:\vssadmin list shadowstorage, but only a few GB there, I am looking for almost 290GB on my Windows7, it's so frustrating.

    Thursday, November 15, 2012 4:22 AM
  • i followed the show hidden folder steps and it showed up that 429 gb is being taken up any idea what is using?
    Sunday, February 02, 2014 11:37 AM
  • Hi, im not a computer expert (healthcare background) but i had the same problem and tried all suggestions here and from other websites. But all solutions including the ones mentioned here are all temporary. It freed up space but didnt fix the real problem which is " hard disk continously losing space for no reason". Now, I think i found what's really causing it and i want to share it with all the sites i visited. I had about 122gb unaccounted for. Everytime I scan my drive with WinDirStat or SpaceSniffer and reaches 50% to 60%, it slows down (i believe at this point it's scanning a large amount of file). I also uninstalled my anti virus and tried several others but my laptop came out clean. Then using resource monitor, i noticed that there is a lot of network activity even though im not surfing the web. The names of the activities are very suspicous like "sunroof discount.com, etc". So i tried to investigate and found out that sysWOW64 folder is involved. But after some research, i learned that its an important file. I also scanned it for viruses but stopped because it was taking forever to finish the scan. So while on safe mode and logged in as admin, i checked all folders in that folder, and found a folder named "Content.IE5". It is a hidden file (google how to unhide a folder), and when i opened it, it took several minutes to load (the folder is already open and it was still loading files) Anyways, i went to properties and checked the size of the folder and it was 100gb!! There were htm files, JSON files, file folders ( i think all internet related files), etc inside. I didnt want to scan it with antivirus again because it will take forever and im pretty sure that i dont need these files. So i deleted it (still deleting it). When i hit delete, the message window said, preparing to delete, preparing to delete took overnight, i woke up and it's still preparing to delete it ( about 9 hours) . It finally started to delete it and the message said "deleting 3,406,722 items (100gb) WOW! . And it says about 1 day remaining. Anyways, i researched what that folder is. I read from a site that one guy had the same problem, and suspected that the same folder was involved "Content.IE5". What he did was uninstall i ternet explorer 10, and now he's back to internet explorer 9 and it seemed to stop the problem. After im done deleting these files im gona do the same thing. Please check that folder because we might be having the same problem. Btw heres how you find it, go to drive c, windows, SysWOW64, config, systemprofile, AppData (not the application data folder), local, microsoft, windows, temporary internet files, Content.IE5. If internet explorer 10 is really involved, i hope that they will unf@ck this. please share if it worked for you.
    Saturday, July 19, 2014 4:19 PM