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  1. #1
    New Lounger
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    Using Windows XP, I have a 20GB partition for my C: disk, with around 15GB in use, and 5GB unused.
    Repeatedly during the day, the reported unused space shrinks to my alarm limit of 200MB, triggers an alarm message, I do nothing, triggers a second alarm message, and magically I get back my unused 5GB.
    While the unused space is shrinking, I use a disk mapper to find what file is growing in size, The surprise is that there is no such growing file, the total space in use remaining at its normal 15GB all the time.
    A few weeks ago, the automatic unshrinking did not happen, and the only way I could revover my unused 5GB was to do a surface scan.
    Gremlins?

    Laurent

  2. #2
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    Sounds like either your pagefile, or system restore to me, check your settings or resize your primary partition larger.
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  3. #3
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Laurent Dube View Post
    Using Windows XP, I have a 20GB partition for my C: disk, with around 15GB in use, and 5GB unused.
    Repeatedly during the day, the reported unused space shrinks to my alarm limit of 200MB, triggers an alarm message, I do nothing, triggers a second alarm message, and magically I get back my unused 5GB.
    While the unused space is shrinking, I use a disk mapper to find what file is growing in size, The surprise is that there is no such growing file, the total space in use remaining at its normal 15GB all the time.
    A few weeks ago, the automatic unshrinking did not happen, and the only way I could revover my unused 5GB was to do a surface scan.
    Gremlins?

    Laurent
    Laurent, Welcome to the Lounge.

    If your total disk size is 15 GB, you may want to consider a larger hard drive. This is very small and the price of hard drives is at an all time low. I agree with Clint, your temp files (Internet included) and your restore points are probably taking up large amounts of space. The page file is probably doing the rest. This link shows a fairly comprehensive explanation of the XP page file. This article has a comprehensive explanation of System Restore in XP.
    BACKUP...BACKUP...BACKUP
    Have a Great Day! Ted


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  4. #4
    New Lounger
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    @Clint @Ted, thanks for your reply. I have multiple partitions on my large physical drive, all NTFS, with the C: disk being just one of them. My pagefile is on a separate partition all on its own, itself sufficiently large. My 5GB of unused space on C: has been stable for ever, so not lacking space there. I would tend to suspect a virus with a sense of humour, but have not detected anything so far, and certainly no suspect file activity while the visible unused space is shrinking.
    Laurent

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    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Laurent Dube View Post
    @Clint @Ted, thanks for your reply. I have multiple partitions on my large physical drive, all NTFS, with the C: disk being just one of them. My pagefile is on a separate partition all on its own, itself sufficiently large. My 5GB of unused space on C: has been stable for ever, so not lacking space there. I would tend to suspect a virus with a sense of humour, but have not detected anything so far, and certainly no suspect file activity while the visible unused space is shrinking.
    Laurent
    You might want to consider expanding the C partition just a bit. 5 GB of free space in today's computing environment may be OK day to day but can cause memory shortages from time to time. For example, if you use hibernate rather than sleep or shutdown, the hibersys.fil file can occupy as much space as your RAM and typically is over 3 GB on it's own. Fred Langa talks about this in one newsletter. Temp files can build up quickly. Log files build up, the list goes on.
    BACKUP...BACKUP...BACKUP
    Have a Great Day! Ted


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  6. #6
    Super Moderator BATcher's Avatar
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    To find out what is using your disk space, use TreeSize Free.

    Then go with Ted's suggestion of expanding the C: drive!
    BATcher

    Time prevents everything happening all at once...

  7. #7
    New Lounger
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    If you can stay a little bit longer with me on this...
    Hibernate is off on this machine, and the hibernate file space has been recovered a long time ago.
    My temp directory is on a separate partition, not on my C: disk.
    Thanks for letting me know about TreeSize. Nice tool. I was already using Size Manager, a utility from PowerDesk, with similar results, showing that no file is actually increasing in size on my C: disk while the free space is shrinking. That is, both show me my normal 15GB of used space, and the free space gradually going to zero over a period of less that an hour, without any files increasing in size. And this is precisely what is puzzling me.

  8. #8
    Super Moderator Deadeye81's Avatar
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    Laurent, do you happen to have the Disk Defragment application set to run on an automatic schedule? The growing and shrinking reminds me of the defragmentation operation as it moves files around to eliminate file fragmentation. Defragging requires at least 15% of total partition space to be free in order to do its job.
    Deadeye81

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  9. #9
    New Lounger
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    Thanks Gerald. But no defragging. However I like your line of thinking. What else could be playing with the space on a disk without actually using files?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Laurent Dube View Post
    Thanks Gerald. But no defragging. However I like your line of thinking. What else could be playing with the space on a disk without actually using files?
    If you are really interested in finding out what is happening download and use this free tool - Process Monitor.

    Joe
    Joe

  11. #11
    New Lounger
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    Your suggestion about Process Monitor gave me an idea.
    Yesterday I had recorded 4 minutes of process activity using procmon while the visible free space was shrinking.
    This morning I recorded 4 minutes again while the free space is not shrinking.
    Sorting the 2 files and comparing the activity of each process by measuring the number of entries (lines) for each, I see a process activity that is very similar in both situations.
    So far, we have no files being written to and no unusual process activity while the situation is happening. Doesn't leave much else, does it? A service not registering as a process?
    Laurent

  12. #12
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    It is impossible for the free space to be shrinking without some sort of file activity. You may need to have Procmon running when the file usage starts for it to be logged properly. The only other possibility I can think of which could hide its activity from the OS would be a rootkit.

    Joe
    Joe

  13. #13
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    It seems that the culprit was the automatic creation of a restore point which had gone haywire, caught in what the service described as a "suspended" state.

    I killed that restore point by unflagging all selected disks, and put back the settings to the few disks that I want the restore service to monitor. I then tried to create a manual restore point, which was completed in a few seconds and without problems.

    It's been two days now, and all is calm on my C: disk. Thanks all for your help and suggestions.

    Laurent

  14. #14
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    You're welcome. Glad you got it resolved. Thanks for posting your solution.

    Joe
    Joe

  15. #15
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    Ah yes, system restore, the very first thing I dump in any new installation, at the very instant after a first boot.
    DRIVE IMAGING
    Invest a little time and energy in a well thought out BACKUP regimen and you will have minimal down time, and headache.

    Build your own system; get everything you want and nothing you don't.
    Latest Build:
    ASUS X99 Deluxe, Core i7-5960X, Corsair Hydro H100i, Plextor M6e 256GB M.2 SSD, Corsair DOMINATOR Platinum 32GB DDR4@2666, W8.1 64 bit,
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