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Disk space dissapearing suddenly, alarmingly
Thread poster: Leticia Klemetz, CT

Leticia Klemetz, CT  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 23:54
Swedish to Spanish
+ ...
Sep 13, 2007

Hello!

I have a mystery that is deeply concerning.
Two days ago I had 10gb of free space (of a total of 90+ gb). Suddenly, without having downloaded anything nor installed anything, I get the windows XP warning "you have too little disk space". I check, surprised, and notice I have only 170 mb left!
I deleted unneeded files (using the windows tool to free space), deleting a total of 500 mb. After this operation I only had 200 mb of free space (?!).
I went into the program list and found a tiny game I downloaded three years ago, and haven't used in over a year, was 3.3 gb big!! I deleted it, and somehow the sum of my free space as now 1.6 gb. (I know the math does not add up!)
I hybernated the computer and next time I opened it, again I had exactly 170 mb left. I cleaned up the computer from spyware and viruses (it was clean) and got the message I only had 1 mb left.
At this point you can understand I am panicking, since I have a big job going on, which is due Monday. I'll work on a secondary computer, but I prefer my own, modern laptop...

I've just deleted the iPod photo cache, which took up some 5 gig. But the free space is dissapearing still.

Any ideas? Rather than a virus (which I don't have) this seems rather like tumoral growth.

Help!!


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 00:54
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Rather tight Sep 13, 2007

10 from 90 is rather little free space. You better keep one third of the total, it speeds things up.
An external drive would be a good idea for all that extra stuff.
There is a funktion for reaorganising the drive. Try that.
Did you scan for viruses?
Regards
Heinrich


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Terry Richards
France
Local time: 23:54
French to English
+ ...
The math does add up... Sep 13, 2007

...if your disk is compressed. It is mathematically provable that the best compression routines available will, on average, compress data by a factor of 2:1.

So, if you delete 100 MB of data, expect to free up about 50 MB of disk space. In general, it will be a bit less as some of the data will already have been compressed (zip files etc.)

Terry.


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Leticia Klemetz, CT  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 23:54
Swedish to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
no viruses Sep 13, 2007

Thank you for replying so fast, Heinrich! In my despair, I deeply appreciate it.

My computer is clean from viruses, I just checked it.

Do you mean the "defragmentation tool" from Windows? I will try it. Although it seems strage that 10 gb would dissapear so fast.

I did have an external hard drive (120 gb, desktop, from Iomega) but it broke, and I lost a lot of information dear to me. So I don't trust them very much, I must say... But I will probably have to buy a new one. In any case, I do not think I have 80 gb of information in my computer. I'm pretty sure about that. It is not "stuff of mine" that I can transfer elsewhere. Agh!

Still, those 10 gb dissapearing in one day are very alarming. I will defragment (I did it a couple months ago, but I will again) to see if it helps. Thanks for the idea!


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Luca Ruella  Identity Verified
United States
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
Virus scanning Sep 13, 2007

Even though you've virus scanned your HD, there might still be malicious software on your system.

-which antivirus are you using? Not every antivirus can identify all virus threats out there. Norton for example is popular but not so good. I use antivir, which is free, light and powerful.

-is the antivirus updated?

-have you opened suspicious mail attachments recently?

-are you using a firewall?

-when windows boots, open task manager. Do you see any unknown program running?

I would disconnect the HD from your system, and connect it as a slave drive to a clean and protected system, boot the protected system, then perform a new virus scan on your drive.

Also try to run a checkdisk and please let us know if it reports lost space, damaged clusters, etc.

[Edited at 2007-09-13 15:18]


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Terry Richards
France
Local time: 23:54
French to English
+ ...
Windows swap file? Sep 13, 2007

It's a bit of a stab in the dark but it could be a run-away Windows swap file.

The fact that you always end up with 170 MB left suggests to me that something is running away allocating disk space in fixed-size chunks (probably 200 MB or more) until there isn't enough space left to allocate a new chunk.

Right click the toolbar (the one with Start... on it) and select Task Manager from the menu that appears. Click the performance tab and you should see a cool graph of memory (and CPU) usage. The numbers at the bottom show various aspects of memory usage. If nothing new is started, these numbers should be essentially unchanging and the memory graph should be a flat line. If not, something is amiss!

If something is running away, click the Processes tab and then the Mem Usage column header. This will show you which processes are eating up memory and the culprit should be near the top of the list and moving higher as it grows. Once again. with nothing running, this display should be essentially static.

Terry.


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Leticia Klemetz, CT  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 23:54
Swedish to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
good ideas Sep 13, 2007

Hi Luca!

Thanks for the bunch of ideas!!

I have Panda Internet Security, which is updated.
Panda did complain a couple days ago, that I had a virus in my flash drive. I cleaned the drive and it had some four other viruses in it.

I did scan for spyware - it's all gone.

Firewall - it's on.

Weird attachments - not that I recall.

The defragmentation tool says it needs no defragmentatin, but I'm doing it anyway.

As for disconnecting the HD, it's tricky since it's a laptop.

Pressing ctrl + alt + del, the applications running are ok. The "processes" list is very long and has tons of things I don't recognize, but none is very large.

Next I'll do the reboot checking for errors.


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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:54
Spanish to English
+ ...
Do you run programs that generate large temp files / scratch files? Sep 13, 2007

Some types of software (video-editing and audio editing apps, DVD-authoring programs, etc.) can generate large temp files or work files that are basically a second copy of what you were working on. They can eat up disc space very quickly.

Is it possible some package you use is generating massive temp files?


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Csaba Ban  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 23:54
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Been there... Sep 13, 2007

I experienced exactly the same thing about a year ago. I had Norton, checked for viruses regularly, and apparently there was no virus.

So I called over a friend, who's much more computer literate than me, and he discovered that my PC became a "ghost". This essentially means that a virus hijacked my computer and used it as a storage space for illegal downloads. In the file directories nothing was visible, except for the disappearing disk space.

I don't remember how it's possible to determine if your PC is a ghost and it hosts large amount of downloadable content, but probably an IT expert would be a good help.

After this checkup, all of a sudden I gained almost 10 GB of disk space

Csaba


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Leticia Klemetz, CT  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 23:54
Swedish to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
is it really supposed to be flat? Sep 13, 2007

Hi Terry,

That's interesting.

In "rendimiento" - (performance?) tab, the upper graph of CPU usage keeps moving all the time. The only thing running is the internet connection (via my blackberry - why does this have to happen when I am travelling and I don't even have dsl...). The lower graph is flat.

In processes, I see two iexplore.exe (41 and 27 mb each). Plus there's a WebProxy.exe (7.996 kb) and an Iface.exe (27.696 kb) which I have no idea of what they are. And many other further down, but not really changing. AVENGINE.exe is 48 mb, wonder what that is. TPSrv.exe is also 44 mb.

STEVEN:
No, the only programs I run that generate temp are Word and Trados. Sounwise I use iTunes but that one is fairly friendly, I believe... I don't do any video or audio editing.


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Dr. Andrew Frankland  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:54
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Any .tmp files around? Sep 13, 2007

I would do a search for files with this extension and then delete them. I find that they often take up a lot of space, especially if the computer or a program has crashed recently or you've installed some new programs. Most of them can be found in the Windows/Temp directory

Andy


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Luca Ruella  Identity Verified
United States
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
scandisk Sep 13, 2007



The defragmentation tool says it needs no defragmentatin, but I'm doing it anyway.


Please do not confuse defrag with scandisk, they're located in the same tab but perform 2 different tasks. Scandisk perferms an integrity check on the disk and looks for various errors. It's worth a try.


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Terry Richards
France
Local time: 23:54
French to English
+ ...
The LOWER graph should be flat... Sep 13, 2007

...as yours is.

It should only change significantly if you open a new program or ask an open program to do something new (open a new file in Word etc.)

If you click the column header for Memory usage, the process display will sort by that column and the big hogs will be at the top. (You can do this with other columns too).

If your memory graph is flat, my theory was wrong

Terry.


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Shai Navé  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 00:54
Member
English to Hebrew
+ ...
Some ideas Sep 13, 2007

Hi leticia,
Both Webproxy and iface.exe are part of the Panda suit, so both of them are OK. About the iexplorer.exe if you have two windows of IR open than it's semms OK. But, if one process is spelled iexplorer and the other one is spelled IEXPLORER than there is a reason for concern.
I recommend the following:
1) goto housecall.trendmicro.com and perform the online scan.

2) download he software CCLEANER from www.ccleaner.com. this little application cleans your computer from junk files (not viruses) such as temp files, temprary internet files, etc, as mentioned before.

3) Download the following application http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/folrep.zip, unzip it into a directory of your choice, and start it. It will display the usage of your HD by files and folders. please post here the results of the "largest" files and folders".

4) I suspect that this is a system restore issue. The system restore is feature is somewhat useful thing but can cause these kind of problems. It needed to be configure properly. To do so right click the my computer icon on the desktop. than goto the system restore tab. check the box turn off system restore (NOTE: it is always good to do so before cleaning for viruses). than restart your computer and check the disk usage. Afterwards go back to the system restore tab, uncheck the turn off system restore, click on drive C (or the the drive where your windows system is installed on) and click on settings. In the setting menu, configure the amount of disk space to 1024 MB or less, never more. I recommend to set it to around 900MB of space. NOTE: if you don't use system restore i would disable it.

5)It might also be an hibernation problem, is hibernation essintial to you? or could you live without it? if it is essential we could try to resolve it as well.

Keep updating us, and I'll try to help you figure it out.


[Edited at 2007-09-13 17:17]


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Selcuk Akyuz  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 00:54
Member (2006)
English to Turkish
+ ...
What about rootkits? Sep 13, 2007

Your computer may be infected with rootkits, hidden files. Last week when everything was ok, suddenly my antivirus and firewall stopped and then deinstalled automatically. Something, a malicious software, program or virus prevented reinstallation of antivirus program. And I observed that my free disk space reduced from 35 GB to 15 suddenly. Yes, my computer was infected. I have scanned with online Kaspersky but it was no solution. That malicious program prevented installation of any antivirus program. Then I opened the cover of my laptop, removed the harddisk and connected it to my PC, I could delete the viruses easily but it was not so easy with the rootkits. Scanned the harddisk with AVG Anti-Rootkit and some other similar programs.
Conclusion: I have lost many documents, and had to format my harddisk and reinstall windows.
So act before it is too late. I have lost 10 working days and many documents.

[Edited at 2007-09-13 19:26]


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Disk space dissapearing suddenly, alarmingly

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