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Recurring Low Disk Space Issue in Windows XP SP3

by staluk2270 / December 31, 2008 4:31 PM PST

My desktop configuration is as follows:
CPU: AMD Athlong 64 2800+
OS: Windows XP Home Edition version 2002, service pack 3
HDD: 2 x 40 GB (primary-secondary, not RAID)
Logical Partitions: 3 on primary drive - C is 10 GB, D is 15 GB, E is 15 GB. 1 on secondary drive (G).

The problem I am facing is as follows:
Boot partition (C) has about 3.5 GB free. As I start using the PC, the free space on C partition keeps reducing. It does not matter what I am doing - accessing internet, playing games or working with Open Office. Finally, after some time the free space falls below 200 MB and I start getting Low Disk Space warning.

I have cleaned up old files from this partition. The pagefiles are on D drive and secondary drive (G). The frequency of creating SR points by Windows is reduced to once a month.

I run Zone Alarm Internet Security (Firewall + Anti-virus + Anti-spyware). It is up-to-date and it has not found any virus or spyware.
I also run Iolo System Mechanic and it has not reported any problems.

I read in some earlier discussions that temp files created by AV programs or SR points created by similar tools can cause this issue. Has such issue been reported with Zone Alarm or System Mechanic?

I created a BAT file to report directory and file sizes for "C:\Windows", "C:\Program Files" and "C:\Documents and Settings" at regular intervals. There is some increase in size of some files in C:\Windows\Internet Logs and C:\Windows\Logs but that does not match the corresponding decrease in available free space (the decrease is greater).

Please let me know what the probable causes can be and what can I do to fix this.
Thank You.

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Just guessing....
by CascaLonginus / December 31, 2008 5:10 PM PST

Having 3.5 gigs of free space may not be enough. Default for your recycle bin is 10% of your drive, and I cant recall the amount of disk space system restore needs but its quite a bit also, then windows needs even more free space just for moving files around while you use windows.
This tweak guide can explain, and help you try to free up more disk space, if in fact this is what your problem is.
See the cleaning windows section...

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More clarifications
by staluk2270 / December 31, 2008 5:23 PM PST
In reply to: Just guessing....

Thanks for the suggestions. I will go through the TGTC and see if I can find anything useful regarding my problem.

Just to clarify:
1. C (boot) partition is 10 GB, of which 3.5 GB is free. There is no pagefile on C partition. The free space is reported after including all files and folders including Recycle Bin and System Volume Information.
2. D and E are the other logical partitions on the same HDD.
3. Pagefiles are set to use D partition (15 GB total, 8 GB free) and G (secondary drive, 40 GB total, 7 GB free).
4. System Restore is set to use 5% of disk space for each logical drive/partition.
5. I regularly empty the recycle bin.

I hope this helps.
Thank You.

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With only 10GB you are going to struggle constantly
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / December 31, 2008 9:07 PM PST
In reply to: More clarifications

While XP will install perfectly well on a 10GB partition you will always have to 'manage' the disk space used on that partition.

This doesn't help you now of course, but often users are advised to create partitions for the OS, Programs, Data, (such as photos, music, videos), etc, but really, there is little to be gained. File or program access time is not faster with partitions because the disk head still has the same disk to seek data and read/write. There is no added security, because if the disk fails, then you lose everything anyway, and any virus or other malware that can infect one partition can, and normally will, infect the others.

What partitions do cause are space restrictions, and this is what you are experiencing now. The same differentiation of data can be just as easily achieved with separate folders and with those, there is no limit to content other than the overall disk size.

So, what to do now?

1] The easiest as far as disk management is concerned, is to start again and re-install XP, and use the XP Install disk to delete all the partitions and reformat to just the one partition to NTFS file system. Possibly not the preferred option though.

2] Manage that C drive as best you can. Remove all unwanted programs/software using the Add/Remove option in the Control Panel, or the software's own Uninstall option. Keep a close eye as you are doing now, on the system components that take up space, like System Restore, Temp files, logs, etc

3] Purchase a new internal hard disk, they are cheap now and come with large capacity, 200GB, 300GB, 500GB and so on, install it as the master and have the other as a slave, install XP on there and restart loading your software. The XP on the slave will not work, but it can be used as addition storage.

Sorry. I'm sure that this is not exactly what you wanted.


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Found the culprit!
by staluk2270 / January 1, 2009 1:06 AM PST

Thanks for all the valuable suggestions. I will expand the HDD capacity slowly and carefully (I have some very old programs which I don't want to lose).
In the meantime, I tracked down the issue to Zone Alarm component VSMON (TrueVector monitor service) :-(.
It is creating the log file C:\Windows\system32\LogFiles\WMI\trace.log which is growing rapidly in size and gobbling up all the available disk space.
I am checking on Zone Alarms forums to find out what the workaround is.

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This may help
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / January 1, 2009 2:47 AM PST
In reply to: Found the culprit!
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Was VSMON the true culprit?
by staluk2270 / January 1, 2009 12:19 PM PST
In reply to: This may help

Received some useful suggestions on ZA forums.
When I killed the VSMON process, the log file disappeard.

I turned off logging completely from ZA control center. Now the log file is not being created.

Upon further checking on other forums, I also found that the log file (C:\Windows\system32\LogFiles\trace.log) can also be created by BootVis if it is used to trace the boot sequence and the trace is never viewed. In that case BootVis keeps tracing the boot sequence in that file every time the PC is booted. While its possible, but when I used BootVis,
a) I configured the trace file to be created in a different folder
b) I did view the trace file and optimize the boot sequence

I will keep monitoring further to see if the issue reappears.

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Thanks for the Trace.log information
by brianpals / January 1, 2010 10:44 PM PST

I, too, had the problem with the size of my main drive reducing - in my case all the way down to zero from over 6GB! Every time I hit Refresh (F5) in Windows Explorer or Drive/Disk Management it seemed that the free space was reducing at quite an alarming rate.

After reading your post I looked for the Trace.log file and found quite a large difference (6GB) in the size it actually was compared to the size it was taking on the disk.

Windows wouldn't let me delete the file at first, saying that it was being used by another program. However, after running BootVis again (which resulted in an error message showing, though I can't remember what it said), I was then able to delete the Trace.log file.

I've now uninstalled BootVis, which was recommended by PC Utilities magazine for monitoring program startup times.

Thanks very much for your help!

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Ouch. Tight!
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 1, 2009 1:00 AM PST
In reply to: More clarifications

If there was a way, could you just make one big partition? That way the machine could use all the disk space available without shuttling space from one partition to the next. I've seen a few owners struggle with partitions for years and finally catch on there was no benefit. I also learned that you give them time to figure that out on their own.

For now all you might do is to disable that warning.

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Thanks everyone for your suggestions
by staluk2270 / January 1, 2009 12:22 PM PST
In reply to: Ouch. Tight!

I will keep those in mind and find out what is the least painful way to upgrade my HDD to a larger one.

I may end up re-installing the OS and all the software currently installed on my system. I so desperately want to avoid that Sad

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Tools that helped
by staluk2270 / January 1, 2009 12:28 PM PST
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Another solution if none of these issues solved your problem
by abc130 / June 27, 2012 10:24 AM PDT

Hello all, for other users searching forums for this same issue, there is another solution... It's to disable windows indexing/seaching! The index and CiFiles and windows.edb can become enormous files.

My specifics: WinXP Pro SP3 on a Dell PC with >2GB RAM and a 75GB HD. Low disk space error recurring. I'd run disk cleanup and free a gig of space then it would disappear before my eyes each time I refreshed My Computer. Transfered non-critical files to external HD to free up another few gigs of space, only to watch that melt away too... all the while my processor was crunching away non-stop even after a fresh reboot and nothing running. This had been going on for days! I checked for viruses (AVG and malwarebytes) and found nothing. After a helpful post on a Kaspersky forum I installed WinDirStat to find where all these files had sprouted up. Neat little program.

So I found that far and away there were about 19GB in the CiFiles and the windows.edb was almost a gig. After doing some more research I discovered that Indexing is not necessary if you don't use the Win search function frequently so I followed the very simple instructions on found on countless pages on how to disable it. Did that and rebooted, expecting the CIfiles and edb to be gone, but still nothing. Tried to delete them myself but they were apparently "in use". So rebooted into safe mode and renamed the edb file and the CiFiles directory (was too chicken to delete them just in case). Rebooted and voila, 21GB magically appeared and those renamed files were simply gone. And according to the experts my computer will run much faster now that it's not being slowed down by constantly writing to the index.

So how did this happen in the first place? I mean I've been using this computer the same way for a few years with no issues and hadn't ever touched the indexing settings. Here's what happened. I plugged in a terabyte external hard drive (already half-full with files from my lab-mates' computers) to do a backup. Apparently this drive was set to be indexed (right-click the drive in My Computer, select properties and you'll see the pie-chart showing drive space and near the bottom is the little check-box that was checked). So My poor tiny little HD was creating a gigantic set of index files for this humongous external HD. Phew!

Anyway I hope this helps someone out there. All the things I mentioned doing are easily google-able and easily done by novices so long as you have admin access (I didn't want to risk making any mistakes in the instructions so I'll leave it to you to google the how-to's for your OS).

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