Friday, September 26, 2008

Windows Vista: Where'd all my Hard Disk Drive Space Go?!


I've had my desktop for about a year now and was getting rather concerned at the lack of hard disk space I had left. I couldn't believe that I actually filled up a 400GB HDD in such a short amount of time. I figured part of it could be the fact that I was storing recorded TV shows on it until I found a more reliable way of getting them to a DVD.

So, I ordered a new hard drive, even bigger than my other one and transferred all the videos and recordings to that drive, expecting to free up 60-70GB. Boy was I wrong! After I had done that only 30-40GB freed up, and the next day I only had 25GB, and then 20GB...what was happening?!

I downloaded some hard drive analysis tools (windirstat, treesize, and despacio) and they all said I was using less than 100GB, I figured them for a bunch of free tools that were obviously faulty (I later realized they were right!).

I did some research and found a lot of people pointing the finger at Windows' System Restore. Most were saying that it typically allots 12% of your hard drive for creating System Restore points...that would mean I was losing about 60GB of space to System Restore! I found a good tutorial that told me how to change the space allotment and was really surprised. First, let me walk you through the steps of how to change this storage amount in Vista:
  1. Click on the Start Menu
  2. Click "All Programs" then "Accessories"
  3. Right-Click on "Command Prompt" and select "Run as Administrator"
  4. Don't freak out because you have to use the command prompt
  5. Type "vssadmin list shadowstorage" into the command prompt
  6. The results should tell you the amount of storage used and the maximum amount allotted

If you're not satisfied with what you see (my allotment was unbounded! It was taking up 280GB!!!), follow these steps:

  1. Repeat steps 1-3 above to get bring up the Command Prompt
  2. Type "vssadmin Resize ShadowStorage /For=[your hard disk]: /On=[your hard disk]: /MaxSize=[how much space you want to allocate]"
  3. For example: "vssadmin Resize ShadowStorage /For=C: /On=C: /MaxSize=2GB"
  4. You should get a message saying Successfully resized the shadow copy storage association, and you should have more free space on your hard drive.

I'm not sure what the recommended amount should be (if you know please comment). I gave myself 10GB, which still saved me about 270GB of space! I was flabbergasted at that amount of space.

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