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workstation slowly losing disk space

By lmoseley ·
I have a workstation that is slowly losing disk space. It is XP pro w/ SP2. I have ran two different spyware scans, 2 different virus scans (all full scans) and it came back clean. At first I thought it was a hard drive going bad. I cloned the drive to another new hard drive and the problem still persists. Last night I left the machine with over 14 GB free on the primary partition. This morning it has less than 9 GB. This machine was unplugged from the internet all last night. I (believe) have ruled out a virus and/or spyware. I have ruled out it being a faulty hard drive. I am at a loss to what it could possibly be. Any suggestions?

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interesting problem

by davemori In reply to workstation slowly losing ...

If you cloned the drive, something in software is causing the problem.

I would still suspect some sort of worm or virus that is backing things up, replicating itself or using up resources in some way. I have run into a number of instances where some variant of some virus or spyware seems to make it past Symantec/Norton AV, or McAfee -- whatever I have on the system.

I tend to switch between Norton, McAfee and PC-Cillin as a result. Frequently one of these will detect things that made it past the others.

If you can isolate which specific files are getting larger, you can determine where the culprit may be by looking at what apps use those particular files, and basically rule out some sort of software bug that might be triggering a backup even when the app indicates that backup is disabled.

Start by looking at the size of the largest files.

5 GB is an awful lot of storage to disappear overnight, but since this is occurring on a single partition and since this problem still appears after cloning a drive image to a new drive, I would suspect that something is replicating cache files, making things larger or using up storage.

I would **** away both partitions and reformat the entire drive and reload Windows from scratch.

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Well you seem to have gone through the obvious

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to workstation slowly losing ...

You must be getting to the point where a rebuild will be more cost effective than finding a solution.

I'd be looking at some sort of utility to dump a map of the drive daili and then diff them to see if amything pops up that way.

If that does n't work then you've got to conclude the OS is lying to you in some way. You could go completely paranoid and mount the drive in a linux box and analyse it from there.

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Power surges loss?

by sully In reply to workstation slowly losing ...

I've had a similar issue with a small OBGYN group that has approx 30 nodes and a win2k3 server setup as a small domain. They have no dedicated power and often have surges and brown outs. I've been a broken record about UPS's and their finally moving locations with better power service. My point being is one of the workstations was booting really slowly so I checked it out expecting to find a virus or some spyware. Alas, nothing. What i did find was an empty system32 folder. That's right, it booted with an empty sys32 folder. Later on after a diskchk I looked in again and sure enough more and more of the HDD's files were being gobbled up by some invisible villan. I don't get it either, but now the Windows folder is missing and it still tries ot boot. Unbelievable, I get to a log in screen (no network boot either just in case it crossed your mind) and then it reboots. I've since reinstalled everything and I'm keeping a close eye on it. Thank god they do backups. Curious, what kind of drive is it? Is it attached to a UPS? Is the uPS good? Does it save log files? Have you checked them? That's what I'd do.

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Tricky one, this !!

by JohnPh In reply to workstation slowly losing ...

You seem to have taken all the obvious & sensible steps already, and I would not pretend to have a ready solution, but have you considered:
1: Power corruption?
2: Check volume stats, switch PC off overnight, then after booting in morning check again
3: Do you have drive compression enabled?
4: Have you checked the trend with a 3rd party utility that is not part of the OS?
5: Switch the hard drive to another identical PC (if available) and then check again
6: Is BIOS latest version?
7: Have a look at utilisation with Task Manager; try uninstalling any app which seems to be hogging resources
8: Try fixing virtual memory rather than let Windows do it
9: Disable hibernation
10: Have you done a file search with size the main criteria (say greater than 1Mb) to see if there are any "rogue" files growing & hogging space. If so, delete it (them), defreag, reboot and check again ...

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Check whats eating with JDiskReport

by mozgermi In reply to Tricky one, this !!
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another question

by dawgit In reply to workstation slowly losing ...

How big is the hard Drive (total) it could make a difference. Is anyone useing this machine over the night? I think jmgarvin is closer to problem with the virtual memory. You might have to set that yourself manualy (as in a limit set) Also, just wondering, how is the printer set up? With Spooling? Check C:\Windows\system32\spool it should be empty unless you have docs waiting to be printed. Also, do you have any web sites set to your offline web?site? (even internal) Are they set to refresh? E-mails waiting to be sent? (even ones you might not know about, even legit, as news-letters)? And somebody (sorry I forgot who) sugested the logs. There are more than one in more than one place, and most anti-virus programs also keep a log, and it's seperate from the OS log, (on purpose) you have to access that one from the anti-virus program. (is there any scans going on at night?) But I think I would first check your e-mail program, just to see if it's generating e-mail that backing up waiting to be sent (think bot here!)

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much appreciated - update

by lmoseley In reply to workstation slowly losing ...

I appreciate all of you taking time to offer suggestions.
I have a fixed size page file. This machine loses space either plugged in to the network or unplugged. I have searched for files modified and have come up empty. No one touches this machine at night. When the machine starts to lose space, I can either power off/on or reboot and the space returns. I have ran 4 different full virus scans on the PC to no avail. I have ran 3 different Spyware scans to no avail. Yes, it would be easy to backup/format/reload, but then I would never know what was the root cause of the problem...

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I think you may have hit on the problem

by Mickster269 In reply to much appreciated - update

" When the machine starts to lose space, I can either power off/on or reboot and the space returns".

Could it be that the OS is incorrectly reporting the size of the drive/free storage space?

What would cause all the space to return, after a reboot? Could there be a problem with *.temp files?

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Adobe caused this problem for me

by alister In reply to much appreciated - update

I had a similar problem and did a search of my hard drive. Adobe reader was creating numerous, but small temp files. I forget the folder it was writing them to, but once I cleared these temp files, the files problem went away. Run a program like Quick View Folder Sizes to see where the largest folders are and see what progam is writing to them, them you can track a remedy from there.

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Memory Leak

by teh Test In reply to much appreciated - update

I recall these problems being real prevelent in 95 and 98. I would go through your startup problems. Disable the **** out of EVERYTHING, remove unused processes. Odds are its a faulty process running.

If your **** bent on finding out which proccess it is. Kill each one as then wait to see if the snowball stops.

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