Hard drive no space but little program and data?

I experienced that my 500GB had only 85GB left and getting less by the week but programs and data showed they only took 112GB. So where was the rest?

Did the entire disk clean up using system tools. Deleted all restore points. Limited restore point space to 80GB, deleted temp files and log files not needed. Savings were 2GB. So what was using the rest?

Searching on Google got me from numerous forums that this was/is a common problem but with solutions scarce.

Used a good free utility Windirstat tried to find out what was using the space. It only found 112GB as I knew was being used by the programs and data. I then changed the options in the utility to also show “unknown “files and hey presto there was the missing 323GB with a list of file types including a 16GB text file. Every program installed had files in the unknown space but none were accessible.  Just a huge blank block shown on the utilities graphical view and nothing one could do. No path just a list of files.

Went searching my folders again to see if I could find it. No luck. I then noted there was an icon with my computer name. In the past it showed as empty of folders. But when clicking on it this time a pop-up came up with an option to manage the space used. Clicked on that and a new pop-up showed named” Manage Windows Backup Space”. There it was. My missing 323GB. It had backed up weekly my data in a format only recognised by Windows. Considering it had done this for 2 years since installing Windows 7 Professional 64bit not surprising it took as much space.

As I back up my data on the cloud using Dropbox the backups were superfluous. I deleted them and recovered all the “unknown” space.

I also disabled the auto backup which is the default position when installing the OS.

So if your hard drive space is disappearing find the icon with computer name and delete the backups  done by Microsoft and disable automatic backup. There may be another way to access that pop-up using the control panel but I have not searched for that.

Richard Terhorst

21 May 2013