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System process constantly eating disk space - Win XP

By brennan2004 ·
Through a post on Tech republic, I was able to identify that the ?system? process on my computer is constantly writing to the hard drive, such that the free disk space is being eaten up at the rate of about 90Mb per minute. The space is liberated again after a restart.

I have made several virus checks with Avast, but it didn?t find anything.
It still happens in Safe Mode, although at a lower rate - 4Mb per minute
There is no sign of what is being written ? the properties of the C: drive shows that the used space is going up and the free space is going down, but clicking on C: and selecting all files and folders the total size of this selection remains essentially unchanged over time
Someone suggested the page file, but that is constant ? and at its minimum.
I?m running Win XP SP2 on a Toshiba A100
I?d really appreciate some suggestions as to what I should try next.

Thanks

John

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Have you any back up software installed?.

If so then this might be your answer to your hdd and its lost space. It might be writing to a space that is not shown, but it can only be seen through the backup software Window.

Please post back if you have any more problems or questions.

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Resize your Pagefile

by Jacky Howe In reply to System process constantly ...

RAM is a limited resource, whereas virtual memory is, for most practical purposes, unlimited. There can be a large number of processes each with its own 2 GB of private virtual address space. When the memory in use by all the existing processes exceeds the amount of RAM available, the operating system will move pages (4 KB pieces) of one or more virtual address spaces to the computer?s hard disk, thus freeing that RAM frame for other uses. In Windows systems, these ?paged out? pages are stored in one or more files called pagefile.sys in the root of a partition. There can be one such file in each disk partition. The location and size of the page file is configured in SystemProperties, Advanced, Performance (click the Settings button).



A frequently asked question is how big should I make the pagefile? There is no single answer to this question, because it depends on the amount of installed RAM and how much virtual memory that workload requires. If there is no other information available, the normal recommendation of 1.5 times the amount of RAM in the computer is a good place to start. On server systems, a common objective is to have enough RAM so that there is never a shortage and the pagefile is essentially, not used. On these systems, having a really large pagefile may serve no useful purpose. On the other hand, disk space is usually plentiful, so having a large pagefile (e.g. 1.5 times the installed RAM) does not cause a problem and eliminates the need to fuss over how large to make it.

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I also agree with the Page File being the problem here

by OH Smeg In reply to System process constantly ...

Depending on the amount of RAM physically present and what is being used the Page File can get very large. If you have limited Disc space you should look at cutting down on the number of running processes and on a NB this is ideal as they have limited abilities. However as stated above the Recommended Minimum Size of the Page File should be at least 1.5 times the physical Memory fitted and 2 times the Physical Memory fitted as the upper limit.

However depending on the number of running processes and what they actually are this figure may need to be considerably larger. This particular Workstation requires 3 GIG of Page File space just to idle away and this figure climbs to 5 GIG when it is running with normal use. Of course if it had fewer running processes the figure would be considerably less but to run the software that I require the Windows System requires this amount of HDD Space.

Col

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If it is the Page File, what now?

by brennan2004 In reply to System process constantly ...

Thanks guys for you input.
My backup program is Synback, and it is run manually.

Page File
Hmmm.. If so where to from here? It is set for a custom range. I just updated that range to reflect the 2Gb of Ram that I loaded into the machine a few months ago. So it is now Min 2Gb Max 3.067 and it currently sits at 2Gb

But this hasn?t changed the behavior of the beast:
The I/O Write Bytes column of the Task manager reports that the System process is constantly at work writing away at the same rate that the free space of the disk is being lost. It will continue to do this until the space has run out. I first discovered this problem when Windows alerted me to low disk space. It was at about 30 Mb and dropping so I had to hastily close everything and restart. But by that time Windows had *kindly* released all the System Restore files, so there was no going back even if I wanted to.

I want to reemphasize that this behavior is also evident in Safe mode ? with only a half dozen system processes functioning. Otherwise I might suggest concerns like the Bluetooth manager that I loaded in the week prior, which along with the Services process seems to need quite a bit of CPU resource even at idle.

I have large part of my data copied off to an external hard drive, so I can continue to use the machine, but I hope I can get to bottom of this soon.

Appreciate any help

John

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I am wondering if there is some confusion here ...

by OldER Mycroft In reply to If it is the Page File, w ...

Because there certainly is at my end of this thread.

"The I/O Write Bytes column of the Task manager reports that the System process is constantly at work writing away at the same rate that the free space of the disk is being lost"

What do you mean by this?
Which 'Task Manager' are you using to witness this behaviour.
My concern is that every computer I've ever seen, constantly reads/writes otherwise it is broken and not working.

As to your backup program 'Synback' that is run manually - have you actually checked that it is:
a) Set to run manually and
b) Not running at all while this situation develops.

I strongly suggest you disable it completely, in order to check that it might not be invoking itself without your knowledge. So remove it from the boot sequence then re-boot, that way it is removed from memory completely.

As to Windows warning you about low memory, even the healthiest, most well maintained PCs can still occasionally fall foul of this happening, most of the time Windows does not issue a warning.

Sorry if this has come up in previous threads, but what are you using to check where all your disk space is going? Have you tried using Treesize yet?

http://www.download.com/TreeSize-Free/3000-2248_4-10139400.html

It WILL show you exactly what your disk looks like and, not only that your free space is disappearing BUT where all the free space is being removed from.

With 'Treesize' you can scan the disk in different ways; to study wasted free space, file-type apportionment, wasted space by comparing actual file-size with file-size on disk, and other ways I've forgotten at present.

There is always the possibility that a form of malware is mis-reporting your directory structure (including free disk space) and your physical hard drive is actually OK.

Run a scan with Treesize and report back what it finds - and disable your Backup software completely.

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Thanks, but I'm no closer to resolving this

by brennan2004 In reply to I am wondering if there i ...

Mycroft

>Which 'Task Manager' are you using to witness this behaviour.
Windows Task Manager.

>My concern is that every computer I've ever seen, constantly reads/writes otherwise it is broken and not working.
I just checked another machine sitting idle ? sure there was a bit of stuff being written, but it was a few K?s at a time ? not at the constant rate of around 25+Mb per minute that I see on my machine.

>As to your backup program 'Synback' that is run manually - have you actually checked that it is:
a) Set to run manually and
b) Not running at all while this situation develops.
I said it was run manually ? It needs me to lift my finger to make it go. There is
- no active process running for this program
- nothing scheduled to run automatically
- nothing in the boot sequence
- and certainly it is nowhere near the action when the machine is in Safe mode

You read me wrong about the low disk warning ? I was unhappy about the way it gave away my Restore points without warning

>Treesize
I downloaded and installed Treesize. It?s overall result was same as Glary utilities and Windows Explorer report ? static values for used space, while the properties for Drive C show an increase in used space at around 25Mb per minute.

John

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I agree with Jacky Howe on this one, here is the info..

Virtual Memory:
A paging file is the area on the hard disk that Windows uses as if it were RAM.
So if you have very little memory then Windows will be gobbling up your hard drives free space for itself. Windows is a very hungry system and needs/wants a lot of memory. Me i call it a PIG. So my way around this is to get as much RAM/memory as you can and you will be fine.

Please post back if you have any more problems or questions.

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If Page File what test can I run?

by brennan2004 In reply to I agree with Jacky Howe o ...

Peconet,

As I said earlier, I have the page file sizes custom set. Min 2Gb, Max 3.067. Even with 4 apps loaded at the moment the current page file usage appears to be at 2 Mb
Also note that I?m losing tens of Gbs of space over time.
The writing behavior of the services process starts straight away after boot - it doesn?t need any applications loaded to get it going ? it even working away in Safe mode with only a handful of Windows processes active.

If you still think this is the culprit, what other way can I test to verify your suspicions?

John

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Try this out for size ( pun intended )... :)

Set your custom to "auto", let Windows do its own page file sizes and see how you go on here.
What i think is happening is, you have set it to 2GB Min. The computer is trying to get to 2GB minimum but in the process to do this it is having to pull more virtual memory from your computer, hence the missing free space on your hard drive. So just let windows do it on auto.
There is another way i know of, but i will not post this just yet, just see if setting the page file to auto works first.

Please post back if you have any more problems or questions.

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Tried, but no change in behavior

by brennan2004 In reply to Try this out for size ( p ...

Peconet,

I changed the setting from Custom to ?System managed size? and restarted. However there has been no noticeable change in behavior. The System process is still working constantly away both in normal and safe mode.

Got another idea?

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