WTFriday: What happens when Windows runs out of Disk Space?

February 17, 2012 by George Edison. 11 comments

I have been using the Windows 8 Developer Preview for about 5 months or so and in order to install it on my PC, I had to create a rather small partition on my primary hard drive consisting of only about 16GB. Thankfully, a clean install of Windows 8 will fit comfortably within that space and still provide enough room for some basic utilities and drivers (of course, I do have other secondary partitions that I use for installing applications).

During the installation of a particular application, the free disk space on the partition dropped to about 28MB. One of the users over in the Root Access chat room suggested that I try filling the disk until it is completely full and then blogging about what happens – hence this article. I was a bit reluctant at first since I didn’t want the hassle of reinstalling anything if it became corrupted somehow, but since I have up to date backups of everything, I decided to proceed anyway.

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Building a NAS Server

September 14, 2011 by sblair. 44 comments

After reading a review of the Drobo FS, I became obsessed with network attached storage (NAS). I realised that a NAS device would neatly solve a couple of long-standing problems I hadn’t got around to fixing: data backup and data organisation.

This post will explain how I picked the hardware and software for my NAS.

My NAS server

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Where did all my hard drive space go? Part 3

May 9, 2011 by mokubai. 2 comments

This is the third part of a three part article, for parts two and three go to Part 1 and Part 2


Continuing our journey into the world of missing hard drive space I hope to impress on you one of the worst offenders for making your hard drive space disappear:

Programs Themselves

One of the absolute major problems cruft building up on your computer is using the programs you install.

Everything from Internet Explorer to Google Earth to Picasa, each and every one of them wants to be fast at what they do and every one of them uses your disk space to store their temporary files.

Some of these programs are quite careful and elegant about how much space they use, keeping only what they immediately need for speed on your disk or deleting everything over a certain amount.

Other programs, well, don’t. Other programs store every last piece of data they got their grubby mits on. I’m looking at you Google Chrome, you and your ever increasing and seemingly unlimited disk cache. I don’t care if I have a huge hard drive and you think allocating $SOMERANDOMNUMBER percent of it for your cache is acceptable, you can dang well work to a limit like every other sane piece of software. (note: when I wrote this my Chrome cache was sitting pretty at 1.5GiB and showing no signs of remorse for its actions)

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Where did all my hard drive space go? Part 2

May 8, 2011 by mokubai. 2 comments

This is the second part of a three part article, for parts one and three go to Part 1 and Part 3


Continuing our journey into the world of missing hard drive space this post will focus on things you can change, but shouldn’t.

In this post we’ll be focusing on some of the shadier characters:

  • The page file
  • WinSxS
  • Program Installers

These are the kind of things that seem to be taking up a rather worrying amount of hard drive space but do actually provide some benefit or can break things if removed. You can get rid of them, but at best you’ll get ignored by tech support if you tell them what you did…

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Where did all my hard drive space go?

May 7, 2011 by mokubai. 12 comments

This is the first part of a three part article, for parts two and three go to Part 2 and Part 3


A common problem with Windows is that no-one really knows how much space you need before you install it. Microsoft themselves recommend a minimum of 16GB of hard disk space before trying to install Windows, but that doesn’t take into account any of the growth when you install applications or any of the other things that go on “behind the scenes”

Some people dread the Unexpected free disk space disappearance

On my Windows 7 PC, the free disk space has gone down by 1GB even though I haven’t downloaded or installed any new files and I haven’t downloaded any updates or other things? What could have made the disk space go down for apparently no reason? Is this the result of some sort of a spy program that is undetectable?

The problem is that in Windows there are so many reasons as to why disk space suddenly disappears and when you are using an SSD where you are paying a premium for every last gigabyte it can be quite concerning. Some of the key culprits are the following items:

  • System Restore,
  • Page & Hibernation files,
  • Windows Update,
  • Recycle Bin
  • WinSxS
  • Program Installers, and last but by no means least
  • Programs themselves.

This is nowhere near an exhaustive list and by no means rules out a malware infection but these items tend to account for the sudden and rather annoying disappearance of several gigabytes of precious free space.

Due to the sheer quantity of things that can be taking up space I’m going to split this post into three posts, “System options you can change”, “System Options you should leave alone” and “Clearing up program data.”

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Windows 7′s best kept secret: Libraries

May 1, 2011 by studiohack. 0 comments

I’m willing to bet you haven’t heard of Libraries.  No, I’m not talking about a library of dusty books, rather the Libraries feature in Windows 7.  If you have heard of Libraries, I’m sure you don’t know much about it or what it does.  Or even how to use it!

Libraries is probably one of the most underhyped, misunderstood,and ignored features of Windows 7.  With Libraries, you can keep all of your scattered data files from many different locations, and bring them together in one folder, all without duplicating data and wasting your precious hard drive or solid state drive space. It is one of the best built-in tools you can use to organize your data.  Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look. First, to access Libraries, either click the pinned Windows Explorer icon on the taskbar or type ‘Libraries’ in the Windows 7 Start Menu search box.

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Linux permissions demystified

April 22, 2011 by flibs. 6 comments

I have seen a large number of questions on Super User recently all around the same topic of Linux and Unix file permissions. For example:

unix file permissions

File permissions in UNIX are frequently specified as an octal number. Why is octal the preferred base for this purpose?

… and …

Linux file permissions

I own a particular file on a Linux system. I would like to give 2 groups (accounting, shipping) read access and only read access, and 3 users(Mike, Raj and Wally) write access and only write access. How can I accomplish this?

In a world of Windows where file permissions can be granted on a per-user basis, Linux and Unix permissions seem to be very hokey and restricted.

Well, let me tell you, they’re not.  For such a seemingly basic arrangement they are an incredibly powerful tool.

Most people forget that to do anything even remotely fancy with permissions in Linux you really have to couple them with groups.  And you really can do some fancy things with them!

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