Disk space being consumed by files that don't exist

By Karmashock ยท 37 replies
Nov 2, 2007
  1. Basically if you go to properties on the disk it says I have 2GB free on a 20GB harddrive (old laptop) but if I select all the files and folders in root directory... including hidden files, it says it only adds up to 11GBs.

    20GB-11GB does not equal 2GBs. I should have 8-9GBs free.

    I have emptied the trash, shown all hidden files/directories, and I can still only find 11GBs.

    I have also run "chkdsk" on the whole drive... I assume it would catch the problem if it were a disk error.

    If it's of any relevance it's a Lenovo laptop with the security chip in it... but I only have a 200MB security partition... and even that registers as a file I can find in the root directory.

    What is going on here?
  2. kristouk21

    kristouk21 TS Rookie

    how many drives does ur machine say u have ?? just c: d: e: etc... or is there more?

    has the drive been setup with maybe a recovery partition???

    what operating system are you useing ?

    wen installing operating systems they require alot of space upon startup.. they sometimes can consume 2-3GB depending on what programs you have running. your machine might not have alot of files and folders.. it could be just that with all software or applications u have it may be useing the extra hard drive space as a type of virtual memory.....(tempary storage for applications)

    worst case senario possible u have a virus...(maybe a worm) these can take up space...... they need to be quarentined and removed....

    or maybe a broken HDD... it may be faulty... the drive might have bad sectors that cannot be read or written to....

    try and defragment your drive.. click Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Disk Defragment.. sort out all files and folders.. by doing this it will tell u if there is any bad sectors on the drive.. it may well be able to fix some of your problems
  3. aspirulito

    aspirulito TS Rookie Posts: 25

    Try disabling system restore or reduce the ammount of disk space assigned to it... I am pretty sure most of your missing GBs are there.
  4. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    In disk space, 1+1 does not equal 2.
    The filesystem may be damaged, there is some filesystem overhead that is never visible, you cannot select all folders and files, the space calculations do not include folders that you do not have access to, files take up more space on disk because of clustering.

    Use a utility like Seqoia View to get a nice graphical overview of your disk space usage.
  5. Karmashock

    Karmashock TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 223

    The size of the partition is 20 GBs. there are only 11GBs of files on it hidden or otherwise. It says there is only 2GBs of free space.

    Windows XP

    I'll try this

    Those are hidden files and should show up if I select all files.
    I'm aware of that but 7GBs of missing space on a 20GB partition is excessive. Typically that kind of thing doesn't exceed 5 percent. And in any event this is the size of the partition not the size of the disk. 7GBs shouldn't just exist but not exist on a partition.

    this is an NTFS partition by the way.
  6. aspirulito

    aspirulito TS Rookie Posts: 25

    reserved space for system restore and other system needs are not files and can not be selected if you select all. Try getting an utility (treesize comes to mind) that will tell you exactly where all the space of your HD is allocated. It will tell you exactly where everything is and that way you do not have to guess anymore.
  7. Karmashock

    Karmashock TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 223

    I've tried this on several different computers and on each if you drag select all the files on the C: drive and ask for properties it closely matches the sizes you see if you ask for general properties on the drive.

    For example, on the computer I'm no right now it says there is 23 GBs on the C: drive and when I select everything it reports the same.

    What I am experiencing on the computer that reports SEVEN GIGABYTES of unaccounted for disk usage is abnormal. Not normal, not common, and not to be expected.

    There is in short something wrong here. Seriously, do an experiment and select files on your hard drive and compare it to that pie chart graph you get if you do general properties on the drive. They should be very similar if you included hidden files in your drag selection.

    On the computer with the problem there are SEVEN GIGABYTES of unaccounted for files. The problem is NOT fixed by disk utilities.

    I am pretty experienced with computers and have NEVER seen this before.
  8. Karmashock

    Karmashock TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 223

    Ok, did a full virus and spyware check... it's neither. It's either a file system error that wasn't detected by chkdsk or there's some kind of hidden folder that's not showing even when you say "show hidden"...
  9. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    Did you try any of the graphical disk reporting utilities?

    ANyway, are there multiple user accounts on that machine? Look in C:\Documents and Settings\

    If you see users there other than you, try to get the sizes of their private folders by right-clicking and selecting properties.
  10. kristouk21

    kristouk21 TS Rookie

    just a suggestion.. wen u came to install win xp onto this machine is it possible that u may have created a FAT file system aswell.. this would possibly explain why u cant see the rest of the space... if your running NTFS file system the FAT file systems i dnt think would show up....
  11. aspirulito

    aspirulito TS Rookie Posts: 25

    that would actually be backwards... NTFS CAN see FAT but FAT can NOT see NTFS
  12. Karmashock

    Karmashock TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 223

    The whole Doc set section is smaller then 2GBs.

    I'm telling you if you select ALL the files/folders in the C: hidden and visible it amounts to about 11GBs if you check disk space it says I have 19GBs on a 20GB drive.

    See the problem? There are files that are taking up space one this partition that are not showing up for some reason.

    This is not a partition issue or a FAT or NTFS issue because I'm not talking about the drive but the partition itself. THIS partition has 20GBs of space and is reporting 19GBs of files on it, but if you select ALL files on it you only get 11GBs of files.

    Help me out here... I'm thinking these files have been hidden somehow. I can see all the files that are typically hidden by the OS so Windows is not hiding these files... they are somehow being hidden from windows I think...

    I'll have a look with a graphic diskspace viewer... I'll get back to you. The only reason that might work is because it might poll the files differently then Explorer.
  13. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    I am not interested in what you get for the "whole Doc section". I am interested whether you have other users on your computer and I would like you to try to find out the size of the home folder of another user..
  14. Karmashock

    Karmashock TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 223

    well, I only have one used account so the everything in the home folder is about 2GBs. I was saying that all the home folders combined were 2GBs. A folder can't be bigger then the folder that contains it, right?
  15. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,154   +985

    there are multiple forms of hidden files AND you must be logged in with ADMIN
    privs to get anywhere near the correct answer.

    1) simple 'hidden' file property seen on the right-click-property menu

    2) Names like $xxxxxx$ are undocumented files by microsoft and they
    exist in \windows as well as other locations

    3) \System Volume Information\ is a whole directory full of hidden files

    In short, this is a non-issue; meaning that the size of free space is correct
    in all cases. If you need more space, use:
    a) disk cleanup
    b) turn off system restore points
    c) delete all your uninstall data (CAVEOT EMPTOR HERE!)
  16. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    Of course not. but if you do not have the permission to look inside a folder, then you can't possibly know what sizes the files in there are. Any folder that you are forbidden to access will have zero size for your eyes. This includes special system folders and any folders belonging to other users and any folders someone has hidden on purpose.
  17. FB455

    FB455 TS Rookie

    System restore and rescue recovery

    Windows' System restore files don't seem to be either hidden files, or even system files. I had a very similar problem, have my system set so that you can view hidden system files, and had total used disk space (when you select properties for the C drive) as larger than the total of all the files and folders.

    Clearing system restore (on Windows XP, when looking at your disk properties, click the "Disk cleanup" button, then flick to the "More Options" tab) worked for me.

    If you have an IBM/Lenovo laptop, they have a similar product called "Rescue Recovery", which hogs a massive amount of space (it was taking up about 20 gig on my 50 gig laptop harddrive). It seems to save files in a system directory which even the Administrator doesn't have permission to read, so you can't actually see the rescue recovery space.

    Have a look here, for more info on Lenovo laptops and rescue recovery (I'm just new so can't seem to post links - just put an http : // in front of it):
  18. Karmashock

    Karmashock TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 223

    I'll check that out... thanks... I've looked at a few other Lenovo laptops and seen a similar issue. I didn't think there would be anything the administrator didn't have access to... Bloody NTFS...
  19. aspirulito

    aspirulito TS Rookie Posts: 25

    I think I pointed that out earlier in the post... did u try an utility to check for the missing space?..

    Treezise will show you everything in your drive... even the folders no one has access to.
  20. Cerberus

    Cerberus TS Rookie Posts: 56


    Try downloading and running the program DiskMonger, it is like treesize and will display all space used in an easy to understand GUI.
  21. KaizereX

    KaizereX TS Rookie

    hello, i am new to this site and i was wondering if u had found the answer to your problem.did u ever find out what was eating up your disk space? i have a similar problem on my desktop and my laptop. my laptop is the real problem.its new, so it has vista installed on it. here is the disk usage for my laptop.
    222gb total space - 85 gb used space =137gb free
    however in my local disk (now called vista) im only using 38.7gb. i brought up the properties for all the folders in there just like u did and i still can only account for 32.8 gb. which means i missing 46 gb!!!!!! if u have found anything that will help plz reply. thanks in advance.
  22. aspirulito

    aspirulito TS Rookie Posts: 25

    hi, you can check the answers given to him and see if they help you with your problem.
  23. mflynn

    mflynn TS Rookie Posts: 2,655

    Hi Karmashock

    This should do it, likely it is Shadow copies.

    This is if you have the Volume Shadow Copy running which is the default.

    Make note of free space now first.

    Start-Programs-Accessories-System Tools-Disk Cleanup

    Click OK to accept C:

    Select all Boxes

    Then click More Options

    Here click System Restore and OK to "Are you sure" and the OK to Run.

    As this runs it clears all but the most recent Restore Point but it does one other thing that can contain infested files and a huge amount of disk space.

    It clears what is known as Shadow copies which are used by specialized back up programs.

    Now recheck free space.

  24. hassan

    hassan TS Rookie

    Similar Problem: Disk Space in C is consumed up

    I have 5GBs in C Drive and files size inside is 3.58GBs so by maths 1.42GB should be there but instead it is showing 86.5MB (Critical Disk Space). I have been trying a lot to get the space but I can't do anything more. I have NTFS file system on C drive and FAT32 on others drive. Total of 4 Drives are there C,D,E &F. Please guide me what I can do.
  25. hassan

    hassan TS Rookie

    KaizereX, Have u find any solution, I am having same problem as well
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