“System Volume Information?” (XP and WinME)

Hi Fred, I am sure this is somewhere in the archives, but I can’t seem to find it. I am running XP Professional [but this also applies to WinME], and I have a hidden folder called System Volume Information that is over 6Gb and 31% of the total used space on my computer. What is this folder for, and can I delete it safely? Thanks, Cliff Bassett

You can reduce it, but not by simple deletion. The biggest part of the "System Volume Information" folder is the "Restore Points" created by System Restore— a Windows utility that’s something like "GoBack" that lets you undo or roll back some system changes in the event that something— an update, upgrade, new software install, whatever— doesn’t work out.

System Restore can be useful, up to a very limited point. But it’s really only an emergency tool, and is not meant to take the place of normal backups. (For that matter, tools like GoBack also aren’t meant to take the place of backups: Even GoBack’s own documentation stresses that.)

On its own, System Restore is a space hog— hence the large size of the System Volume Information folder. But System Restore isn’t hard to control. In fact, the article "Maximizing System Restore In WinME and WinXP"
http://www.informationweek.com/story/IWK20020711S0009 will walk you through the whole process. You can even turn off System Restore completely, which drives the System Volume Information folder down to the smallest possible size.

Note that it wouldn’t make sense to try to remove the System Volume Information folder directly because (1) the OS will fight you and (2) if System Restore is still running, the folder will simply come back, and eventually will be just as big as before.

But by controlling what goes into the System Volume Information folder in the first place— that is, by controlling System Restore— you can manage the size of the System Volume Information folder, and also gain a little more control over your PC.

More info:

Understanding The Differences: GoBack, System Restore, Backups, Images… http://www.langa.com/newsletters/2001/2001-12-03.htm#1

Easy, Lightweight Rollback Tools:

How To Access The System Volume Information folder:

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4) OpenOffice Feedback

Many of you tried out the free Microsoft-Office workalike, OpenOffice (see "Best-Ever FREE Office Suite Upgraded"
http://www.langa.com/newsletters/2003/2003-10-09.htm#2 ). Most loved it— but not everyone.

Here are some sample negatives:

Fred, I read your discussion of OpenOffice with considerable interest, because I had just tried switching to OpenOffice as part of a new WinXP configuration for my developers. These machines do not have MSOffice installed, except for MSAccess, so OOo is the default application for MSOffice document types. While basic functionality is fine, we ran into a show-stopper yesterday. When we use Internet Explorer to open a web page that has links to MSOffice documents, and try to open one of those linked documents (whether .doc, .xls or .ppt), OpenOffice fails to load, and generates an error that locks up that session of IE. The only way out is to Ctrl-Alt-Del and abort the "soffice" application. I’ve searched through Google newsgroups and some OpenOffice and StarOffice sites, and cannot find any reference to this problem. I can’t afford to spend huge amounts of time on this, so today I’ll probably have to remove OpenOffice from the image I’m configuring for my developers. It’s really too bad, because I was looking forward to finding an open-source replacement for most of the MSOffice suite. Thanks, Steve Carter

Hi Fred, At your recommendation, I downloaded OpenOffice 1.1 and tried it out. I was very happy to see that it now supports Hebrew (i.e. it has right-to-left functionability), but I must tell you that, in my opinion, it’s still not up to par. Though it’s easy enough to change the text direction, spreadsheets cannot, as far as I could tell, be set up from right to left so that the first column is on the right-hand side rather than the left-hand side. Microsoft Excel DOES have the capability and it’s essential for anyone creating spreadsheets in a right-to-left language. When I tried to open one of my Hebrew Excel spreadsheets in OpenOffice Calc, I found that all of the column had been reversed my first column, which was on the right in Excel, was now on the left, which makes absolutely no sense in a Hebrew spreadsheet. I was really hoping that OpenOffice 1.1 might serve as a replacement for MS Office (because my MS Office 2000 CD has disappeared into thin air and I’m afraid it’s lost forever), but OpenOffice appears to have a long way to go before it meets the needs of those of us who write "backwards". —Bari Nirenberg

Indeed, no software is perfect; and no software fits all users’ needs. But because OO is Open Source, every registered (free) user is actually a tester; and any registered user can report bugs or make suggestions. Bug reports and feature requests are assigned a priority; in theory, the issues that affect the largest numbers of users bubble to the top of the "to do" lists.

I still think that OpenOffice ( http://www.openoffice.org/ ) is a great tool for most users— especially when you factor in the price: It’s free! (See related next item, too.)

Of course, we’ve also covered other free office suites in the past, especially in the Plus! edition; and some readers wrote in again to specifically highlight these two:

I see that you are touting open office. But I have been using another free office suite called 602..http://www.software602.com/download/  –Martin Borho

Fred, As a Plus subscriber, I am always on the lookout for a good deal. This looks like one. It is also helpful if one has a DSL or Cable Modem for fast download, otherwise it would take several hours to d/l 76MB. EasyOffice:
http://www.e-press.com/demo_downloads.html —— Carl Wilmoth,

Thanks to all who wrote in!

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Fred Langa

About Fred Langa

Fred Langa is senior editor. His LangaList Newsletter merged with Windows Secrets on Nov. 16, 2006. Prior to that, Fred was editor of Byte Magazine (1987 to 1991) and editorial director of CMP Media (1991 to 1996), overseeing Windows Magazine and others.