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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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I have fixed this before

by Dean In reply to much appreciated - update

opps, the thread is closed

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Another Possibility

by sdcphoneguy In reply to workstation slowly losing ...

No one has mentioned the possibility of a rootkit writing the drive. A rootkit can write a file that will not show up on a regular windows search. You can check for this by going to

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Solution? I think I may have found it

by lmoseley In reply to Another Possibility

I noticed on the workstation in question that the c:\windows\softwaredistribution\ folder was abnormally large. I stopped the automatic update service, renamed the folder in question and then restarted the service. Once the service restarted, the folder was recreated and so far (I have been monitoring it for about 1 hour) I haven't lost disk space on the partition.

I will post again in a few hours to let you know the final results. Thanks again for all of your responses...

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by dawgit In reply to Solution? I think I may ...

just so you know, I have two WinXP-Pro machines sitting in front of me, one has 27.7 MB the other has 7.94 MB in that file (C:\Windows\Software Distribution) For your info, and reference. (The difference in the two, one is the German OS, the other US-international; and they do different things)

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Odd one out

by kokanaveen In reply to workstation slowly losing ...

1. Try installing other flavour of Windows...
2. If prob still presists try installing Linux (any free version available and check this is happening bcos of Windows Virus/worms)

I would hit out on option 2 as this seems to me like a worm has infected.

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This is going to sound dumb

by Mark Miller In reply to workstation slowly losing ...

Have you checked the Recycle Bin? If you've deleted anything that ended up in there it hasn't really been deleted (until you go in there and Remove what's there).

The only reason I thought of this is years ago I worked on an NT 4 box that had a Norton Undelete service running. Basically it did the same thing as Recycle Bin. Anytime I deleted file(s), it hid the file (looked like it was deleted), but kept it in a repository. Over time I lost more and more disk space. For a long time I didn't realize this service was running. I just noticed my free space going down, down, down. I happened upon the service by accident, figured out how to configure it to "off", and that freed up tons of disk space. Anyway, got anything like that running?

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A few items to consider

by Deadly Ernest In reply to workstation slowly losing ...

I am on a slooow speed dial up so I have NOT checked all the other posts, so sorry if I am repeating anything.

Things that automatically take up space without you knowing about are, and many will clear with a reboot:

1. Temporary Internet files - these do not always show as modified files as they were CREATED and not modified.

2. Prefetch files are also CREATED not modified.

3. Some ecreen savers use their own temporary directory and again CREATE files whilst they are running. In the days of Win 9x and NT a program called After DArk was notorious for eating up space.

4. Some installations of XP have network and system files that just keep growing as they keep live log files while running.

5. Many browsers also grow in space used while open.

One thing that you can do to help track this down is to open the Windows Task Manager and set it to show the columns Memory Usage, Peak Memory Usage, and VM Size. Leave this open and check it every now and then and you can see what is regularly growing.

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do you do anything that is confidential?

by michael_orton In reply to workstation slowly losing ...

I have seen this happen before, on two occasions.
1/ In early 90s a program was available I think it was called hyde.
If you ehanged it to ext2bin, a little used DOs program, it hid all the "illegal" software from DOs and Win 3.1. The HD jusr appaered tro be smaller.
If you had a copy of a non approved program, it found the hidden files they had a delta character before them. You could only use 7.3 names. It worked very like MTOOLS in Linux.
2/ Later in the late 90s a person had a twin disk Dell tower with Syquest removable HD, which he locked in a safe. A sort of keyboard sniffer was installed on the first HD and this had copies of all his work and passwords in hidden partitions on it.
It was an early form of command line Linux, and as far as I know worked for several years. All it needed was to boot from a Linux boot disk, stick in an identical Syquest Removable HD, it was a huge 500 meg, and copy the files to it.
I remember that the person who told me about this system had at first thought that the system was unbreakable as PGP was used as well as removing the HD into a very expensive safe with Intrusion Alarms. Of course all the PGP keys were compromised.
If you are doing work that might interest others, this could well be your problem. Or it could be genuine bad sectors. These are either a sign that you HD is on its way out, or that a modern version of "HYDE" is involved.
Your staff could be using it to play games too.
Hyde spread to a local fiem who used it to hide DOOM (the game) and this was played on their network.
Try booting from a Knoppix CD and find just what is on your HD.
Linux will find anything that is hidden there.
If you have a copy of Partition Magic, the bootable CD, you could also look for hidden partitions, and if you had Norton's Utils this would find it.
I suspect that it would be invisable to everything that comes with Win XP, if not, its a useless piece of software.

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HD losing space

by Strayer In reply to workstation slowly losing ...

I'm new to this site, so be kind.
The new HD has the old OS on it.
I would do a clean install.
If the other partitions are not vital on your new HD, you could partition and format the disk.
If this sounds stupid, well...
I've done refurbishing on older inoperable computers.
There is always a solution.
Please let me know how you solve this.

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Hi :-)

by dawgit In reply to HD losing space

Welcome to the Tech-Rep. (from me anyway, it takes folks a while to warm up to you here, totaly normal, they'll wait & watch for a while, see were your comming from :-) )
Anyway, that's nolonger the point he's making, he wants to know WHY it's doing that (now, we all do) before he does a clean start. (just to catch you up on this one) Than he (& all of us too) will know when, & if, this happens again. That's how bugs are found and documented, and how I see the Tech-Rep working also. -just my 2 cents (again) -d

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