PC Buyer Beware!

PC slow boot/shutdown – Hard disk showing as nearly full using only half capacity

Hard disk drive problem: HDD slow boot/shutdown – showing nearly full but using only half its capacity

My desktop PC – running Windows 7 Home Premium has 2GB of RAM memory and an AMD Phenom II quad-core processor – is taking a long time to boot and shut down. The hard disk drive has a capacity of 150GB and is showing as 145GB full. But if I look under my PC’s name on the Start menu, I get a list of all the items on the PC. Adding these up comes to only 70GB. Why is the hard disk drive showing as twice as full as the itemised list would suggest? When I last used Disk Cleanup, I noticed that Hibernation was using 1.98GB. What would be the drawbacks if I deleted the Hibernation file?

Answer

Don’t delete the hibernation file. If you don’t want to use that feature, disable it under Power Options in the Control Panel. Never delete anything other than data files; programs should be uninstalled or disabled and Windows system files should be left alone.

When the total storage space used by files is added up, some are going to be excluded from the total figure.

For example, when one of my computers, the hard drive of which is not partitioned, became sluggish and reported that the hard disk was full. When I right-clicked on the drive under Start => Computer and chose Properties, it showed the disk was full. However, when I selected all of the folders on the C: drive in a Windows Explorer window, accessed by right clicking on the Start button and choosing Explore, it showed that I only had 44GB of files, which was far less than the 500GB capacity of the drive. I had 250GB of unallocated disk space because I didn’t even need 250GB.

SpaceSniffer and TreeSize hard-disk and SSD space-analysis tools

Fortunately, there are several free tools that can show you where all of the files are located, which should show what is consuming the missing disk space. One such freeware utility is called SpaceSniffer, which can be download this from http://www.uderzo.it/main_products/space_sniffer/. On the Download page, click on the link for it. Unzip the file when the download completes and extract the .exe file to the Windows Desktop and double-click on it to run it.

The tool scans the hard disk drive and shows a treemap layout. You should be able to see where most of the files are stored by looking at the largest rectangles. These can be clicked on for more information.

SpaceSniffer provides some other useful options, such as to narrow the search down to specific file types, such as .jpg image files. To do that Just type *.jpg into the filter field. Old files can be located by typing >3years, or however long you like, into the filter field.

The free TreeSize is another free tool analyses the locations and size of  files on a hard disk or SSD.

Malware or a valid program that goes wrong can create huge a numbers of useless or dump files

There are several ways in which a hard drive can be filled with useless files – usually by the activity of malware or by a valid program that goes wrong.

I found that a huge 65GB was used up by dump files, which were stored in a particular folder. I found out from a web-search that these were the caused by a short-lived error in AVG, the anti-virus scanner. I deleted the dump files and Windows then showed that the hard disk drive was only using around 50GB of its space.