Archive for May, 2011

Where did all my hard drive space go? Part 2

May 8, 2011 by mokubai. 1 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. 6 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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Ask Different Podcast #1: iPhone location tracking, Dropbox, Portal 2

May 6, 2011 by Kyle Cronin. 0 comments

This is first episode of the Ask Different Podcast, an unofficial podcast about Apple and related technologies created by members of the Ask Different community.

Your hosts for this episode are Kyle Cronin, Jason Salaz, and Nathan Greenstein:

This episode was recorded on Saturday, April 23rd. You can subscribe to this podcast via RSS or iTunes. If you’d like to get in touch with us, leave a comment on this post or email us at


Wil, “I’m a PC!”

May 5, 2011 by ivoflipse. 2 comments

Meet Wil, a Windows-oriented Super User who put this GIF in his Ask Different profile. He’s also the kind of person who refuses to buy apps for his iPad, because it would mean indirectly paying money to Apple. Yeah, Wil’s as die-hard a Windows fan as they come. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a tattoo like this:

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Best of both worlds: putting an SSD in your optical bay

May 4, 2011 by nhinkle. 9 comments

Note: Part II, installing and configuring the optical bay caddy, is now posted!

Have you ever wished you could put an SSD in your laptop, but realized that you have far too much data to fit on an affordable SSD? By putting a hard drive caddy in your optical bay, you can add a second hard drive to your computer, allowing you to install your operating system, applications, and other frequently accessed files on an SSD, while storing all of your large files on a regular hard drive.

Our reviews of the Kingston v100 SSD have shown that adding a solid state drive to your system can make it significantly faster, from decimating the boot times to speeding up application launch and data access. One of the downsides of solid-state technology however is that it is still very expensive per-GB compared to traditional hard drives. On computers with two hard drive bays, you can just install your operating system on an SSD and keep everything else on a regular HDD. Laptops rarely have a second HDD bay though. Fortunately, with a optical-bay caddy, you can add a second drive to your computer easily. With flash drives, online streaming video, and downloadable software installs becoming more popular, many users find themselves using the CD/DVD drive less and less, so replacing it with an SSD can be a good investment. Furthermore, in the rare cases that you do need access to optical media, you can always plug in your old DVD drive externally with a special cable.

This first post in the series will give you a sense for how this technology works, and how to figure out what hardware you need to do this. Kingston and NewmodeUS have donated hardware for me to test this out myself, so the next post in this series will chronicle my experience with performing this upgrade.

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Dude, Where Are My Keys?

May 3, 2011 by sathya. 5 comments

As Super Users, it’s quite common for us to install quite a lot of software for various purposes – be it productivity, media playback, clean up et al. Quite often it happens that you’ll need to reinstall the software – perhaps you’re going to format and reinstall your Operating System but you don’t have written records of the license keys of your software. So how would you go about finding them? That’s the dilemma Super User rcmz was in, and he asked this simple question:

Is there a product key finder for a PC??

Is there a product key finder for a PC?

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How to get your questions answered?

May 2, 2011 by Tom Wijsman. 1 comments

Sometimes, when you pose a question about a problem that you have for which you are dying to get a solution, you seem to barely get attention. You are about to give up on your problem… Wouldn’t it be a good idea to do a small effort to get a lot of attention to your problem? Examining how top questions get a lot more attention will learn us how to get attention.

First off all, we need a bad example and a good example of questions in order to do some comparison. As the active questions result in a mix of good and bad examples, we will be looking at the hot questions and month questions instead.

Two hot questions that look bad just by looking at the exterior are these:

I’m really sorry if your question is listed here…

Two hot month questions that look very good and received much attention are these:

Don’t the differences look interesting? You can really tell them apart, so there is something we can do about the first questions.

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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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