Where’s my disk space going?

It's not uncommon to run out of disk space. A free utility can help tell where your disk space is going so you can determine what steps to take.

Our disk drive is split into a C and a D drive which both have between 30 and 40GB on each. We only ever save on the D drive, but the C drive is up to about 31.9GB with 540MB left available! Apart from about 5GB of photos, I can’t understand what is taking up all the memory. The memory seems to continually go down and is now getting to a critical level. I have run spyware and adware checks and deleted all critical errors, but still not been able to free up any memory. I can’t even defrag as I need 20% free to run this option.

Disappearing disk space is a common scenario. Somehow, no matter how much we have, disk space never seems enough. As we collect pictures and programs (and programs themselves collect data), more disk space is consumed unless files are deleted. With so much happening on our computers these days, it’s almost impossible to simply and quickly realize exactly what’s taking up space.

Fortunately, there’s a free tool that I frequently recommend that can give us some very helpful data.

TreeSize Free

TreeSize Free is a free tool that will show you what’s taking up all of the space on your machine. (A paid version is available with additional features, but for what we’re doing, the free version will suffice.)

TreeSize Free Download Page

Download TreeSize Free from the JAM Software page and install it.1

On completion of the installation, you’re given the option to run it or run it as Administrator:

Run Treesize after Install

I recommend you run it as Administrator, so that TreeSize is able to access and return as much information about your hard disk usage as possible.

The TreeSize scan

As TreeSize scans your hard drive, it updates its display in real time.

TreeSize Free in Progress

Once the small blue progress bar disappears, the results are complete.

A typical machine

This is the result of running TreeSize on a basic Windows 7 installation:

TreeSize Results

The primary information here is a list of all of the top-level folders on the C: drive and the amount of disk space consumed by their contents. What’s most helpful is that it is sorted by decreasing disk space; the biggest consumers of space are at the top.

Not surprisingly, the “Windows” folder and everything it contains are consuming the most space. Right below that is “[5 files]” that represent the five files that aren’t in any folder at all, but live in the root of the C: drive.

Disk space is not memory

I keep hearing people confuse these terms and it’s important – particularly when asking for help – that the terms you use accurately reflect what it is you’re talking about. To over-simplify a little:

  • Memory is the RAM (for Random Access Memory) where your programs and data reside when they are in use. When you turn your computer off, your memory is erased. To free up memory, you might just run fewer programs at the same time.
  • Disk space is your hard drive where data is stored permanently or until you or a program explicitly erases it. To free up disk space, you delete files.

Another good difference to note is size. My laptop, for example, has eight gigabytes of memory, but 300 gigabytes of disk space. Disk space on a machine is almost always much greater than its memory.

Digging deeper

You can see the contents of the next level of folders down by clicking the small triangle to the left of the folder name. Here’s the Windows folder expanded:

TreeSize expanded on C:\Windows

You can see right away that the “winsxs” folder contains the most data of all the sub folders within C:\Windows. (This is normal, by the way.) You can also see the relative size of each of the other folders within Windows. If you wanted to drill down deeper, you could simply expand the subfolder.

We can look at those “[5 Files]” again simply by clicking on the triangle in front of the item:

TreeSize showing top level files

Now, we can see that pagefile.sys – the system virtual memory and paging file – is taking up three gigabytes on this machine and that hiberfil.sys – the file used to implement hibernation – is taking up two.

In this case, that’s actually a discovery for me because this machine will never use hibernate. Disabling that feature allows me to delete hiberfil.sys and free up two gigabytes.

TreeSize on user files

It’s often very useful to use TreeSize to see what’s stored in your user account’s My Documents or similar folder. In Windows, that means looking at the contents of “C:\Users\<login name>.” In my case, that’s C:\Users\LeoN:

TreeSize on user account

I have some of the sub-folders expanded here already and you can see that my Outlook.pst file is the largest file in my Documents folder.

Your machine

Now, as to what’s eating up the disk space on your machine, there’s no way for me to know. However, using a tool like TreeSize, you should be able to relatively quickly see what’s taking up all that space and take appropriate action.

This is an update to an article originally posted : October 8, 2007

Footnotes and references

1: Yes, this does make the rather ironic assumption that you have enough space to download and install the tool. Fortunately it’s not large.


  1. Ken B

    Wow. Over 19GB in the C:BACKUPS folder I created 2-1/2 years ago and forgot all about, over 16GB of stuff I downloaded from MSDN and didn’t put on DVDs yet, and 49GB for all the .iso files on my system.

    I guess it’s time for a little cleanup.

  2. gowest

    Hi guys,
    Each time you install a new software oor uninstall or make changes to the computer, WINDOWS save all the modifications, so if something wrong happens later, you can be able to restore your system.
    This option is called “SYSTEM RESTORE” (at least on VISTA).
    And as default it can occupyed 10% of the HD. The only way to make this not happen is to delete these files stored by WINDOWS or just to deactivate the “SYSTEM RESTORE” .
    If you want more informations just ask.

  3. Lynn

    How about changing the amount of disk space the Recycle Bin uses? It’s default is 10% of your hard drive space. I change mine to about 2% because I rarely delete anything that I want to retrive.
    On a small drive the extra space really helps.

  4. Chris

    It’s called “System Restore” on both Windows XP and on Vista. You can access the options to modify or disable it by right clicking “My Computer” and hitting properties or scrolling over to “System” in Control Panel.

    for Vista: “System protection” should be on the list on the left (this opens the “System Protection” tab where System Restore resides).

    XP: “System Restore” is also located as a tab.

    I do recommend that you leave it enabled IF you dont have another backup solution (I recommend you get one), but it might be useful to you to lower the disk space reserved for System Restore properties.

  5. Philip Tyson

    I HIGHLY recommend Treesize.
    It simply does not get any easier than this program. There is a free version and a paid version. I use the free version. It also integrates a right click context menu entry while in explorer that allows you to easily view the disk space used for a selected folder. I have tried SpaceMonger and found its’ interface to be far too confusing.


    • Mona

      Philip, I find that the free versions of computer cleanup softwares usually all don’t do more than just scan for the problems in your computer system, & when they do, they only show the results & sometimes will fix about a 4th of them. They don’t repair and or allow you to repair all of them! Thats why I try & stay away from those that are free. I mean, whats the point in having the free versions if you’re only gonna get the results & not full repairs! & I need something thats going to be on an annual renewal basis, not a monthly one that’ll fix everything.

      • Walt Smith

        Mona. TreeSize is not a “cleanup” tool (read the article), its an information tool to find out whats taking disk space, what you do after that is up to you. TreeSize doesn’t pretend to fix or repair anything. It is, however, a very useful exploratory tool.

  6. JohnE

    One thing that can steadily consume disk space is cached Internet pages – easily cleared via the tools menu of your browser.

  7. Michael Adams

    I have seen more than once (today for example) in running the JKDefrag utility actually reclaim free space on a gunked up server. I suspect its rebuilding stale directory tables that allocate space no longer in use.

  8. Skyforum

    Man, I have been working on this for weeks. I have been to just about every tech site on the net and I couldn’t find an answer. Where the heck was all my space going on my C partition on my Windows 2003? At one point, I was down to less than 30 megabytes! I deleted all the KB files, I searched and removed all the IIS files etc etc and the space just kept disappearing…..

    I finally gave up trying to find someone else that could tell me what to do and went looking for myself.

    The answer is so SIMPLE that only a tow truck driver could figure it out!!!! I am sure you will agree it would be very useful here.

    Go to search / advanced options / select “files larger than 1 meg” leave all the other boxes blank and hit the start button.

    Sort by size and there they were. WOOHOO! I had two, very old and no longer in use databases that had exceeded 6 gigs in size! They were backing up like clockwork every night even though they were no longer in use!

    If you want to know where your space has gone too, go look at the files that are burning it up. Simple, to the point, to heck with all these other complicated fixes. Once you see what they are, you can easily solve the problem.

    Big Bill aka “Skyforum”

    • james

      I guess I must be the truck driver because I can’t even understand your instructions! What do you mean by “Go to search / advanced options / select “files larger than 1 meg” leave all the other boxes blank and hit the start button.” Are you referring to the search that opens when you click the start button and says search programs and files? That does not allow you to click other options. Please be more specific where you go to do this. Where can I select files larger than 1 meg?

  9. David Sorge

    Space Monger is no longer free, but you can try it for 30 days. At this time the web site says $24.95 to buy.

    The old version of Space Monger, as discussed and linked to in the article, remains free.


  10. Roberts Smithem

    Try going into your email program, and from one of the drop-down menus, select ‘compress folders’.
    If this works, then go into ‘options’ in your email program, and look for a place where you can set a size to ‘compress folders when it will save ___ kb on your hard drive’.

  11. bABETTE

    The link for SpaceMonger 1.4 no longer downloads the old free version…only the new one. Is there somewhere else I can get it?

    The link still goes to the old space monger for me. Page is titled “Old SpaceMonger Version 1.4.0” – while they encourage you to get the newer version, the old one is still right there.

    – Leo
  12. Allan

    The link to SpaceMonger v1.4 DOES work, but it might not be obvious how to actually get it.

    First, click on the SpaceMonger v1.4 link.
    About 1/3 of the way down the page, there is another link that says “Download spcmn140.zip – Version 1.4.0 – Win95/98/NT/2K/XP”. Click on that.

    This brings up a page titled “Download”, but at first all you see are buttons to download either version 2.1 or version 2.1.1.

    But now click on the “Free Software” tab. This brings up a much larger list, but at the top of the list all you see is SpaceMonger PHP Scanner: version 1.5, 1.4, and so on.

    Scroll almost all the way down to the bottom of the page. Aha! At last there is a button to download spcmn140.zip.

  13. Zap Coffey-Brittain

    I too recommend the free version of TreeSize by Jam Software, particularly for its Windows Explorer column function.

    Open a folder, select View, Details, then right-click an existing column & tick the TreeSize column option which displays the sizes of any contained files or subfolders. (Why Microsoft never thought to display sizes next to subfolders I’ve never known.)

  14. Matt

    thank you, thank you, thank you!
    i’ve had a good nosey around most of the site, and your information is always fantastic.
    i’m nothing short of useless with computers. i can just about manage to switch the things on, and watch as it capitulates infront of my very eyes… oh the joy!
    i’m currently working on speeding things up, and this tool (along with the task manager on steriods (too true, btw)) has worked a treat. very easy to use, clear, precise. couldnt ask for much more! i’ve managed to find year-old obsolete software that was hogging up all my disk space!

    again, thank you. great work 😀

  15. Kushagra Udai

    I really recommend WinDirStat for this kind of work – its a port of KDirStat for KDE. Anyone who’s used it will fall head over heels for the program – its fantastic.

  16. jim gassner

    If you use system restore delete all restore points except the latest one. This released 6 per-cent on my 20 gig C: partition.

  17. Bob

    I have noticed some programs squirrel away files within the ‘documents and settings’ directory tree. One program I used to use archived files within the ‘application data’ folder under my log-in – a place which regularly goes unnoticed because it’s not part of ‘My Documents’ or the original program’s directory. After deleting over 2Gb of backed-up files, I kept an eye on it…

  18. suz

    in reference to:

    “thank you, thank you, thank you!
    i’ve had a good nosey around most of the site, and your information is always fantastic.
    i’m nothing short of useless with computers. i can just about manage to switch the things on, and watch as it capitulates infront of my very eyes… oh the joy!
    i’m currently working on speeding things up, and this tool (along with the task manager on steriods (too true, btw)) has worked a treat. very easy to use, clear, precise. couldnt ask for much more! i’ve managed to find year-old obsolete software that was hogging up all my disk space!

    again, thank you. great work 😀

    Posted by: Matt at December 7, 2008 11:50 PM”

    could you please state which tool you are refering to? I too am trying to speed things up & am not computer smart. Also,I don’t understand your comment “task mgr. on steroids”.

  19. Mac-Limey

    Hi this may help, I have just recovered 8 gb. of space just by removing older System Restore points.I had 15 restore points which I delated.[beware-you must create a good up to date point prior to cleaning out procedure]

    • lynn

      Holy COW. I’m thinking something was wrong with my machine, I just freed up 50 gig by turning off restore point.

  20. Mark Keohane

    Spacemonger: Brilliant! EXACTLY what i needed. Go to Spacemonger home page; choose Download page; select Free software tab; scroll down to bottom for v.1.4. D/l in an instant, run in seconds and presto, brilliant, instantly meaningful picture of your disk. What a great tool. Thanks for the advice.

  21. Colleen Norris

    I have a check box on both c and d drives, should they be checked to index the drives. If not where should I index. My recovery drive is almost full.

  22. Matt

    Spacemonger gives a holistic, visual representation of file usage on your disk. A single glance tells you where the disk hogs are.

    The free version may not be currently maintained, but it still works. And it is still available.

  23. whs

    The most comon cause of vanishing disk space are restore points (shadows). In Vista, those will take up to 15% of the volume space and in Win7 it is variable. To check this, run the following command in cmd:


    The ALLOCATED number is the amount of space currently taken and the MAXIMUM number is the amount it will ultimately take.

  24. Ron

    As well as the treesize tool you mentioned there are various tools that are more graphical for people inclined that way. This page has links to 5 free tools:http://www.technize.com/5-free-tools-to-list-hard-drive-contents-graphically/

    Another misconception. Checkdsk does not free up space, true … BUT if it finds problems it may create .CHK files from fragments. Browse those fragments to see if there is any content you want to save, then delete them all to FREE UP SPACE, yay!

    This person is in serious trouble, a 30+ gb drive with only 500mb free is way to packed. Windows starts to get “nervous” when free space gets below 20%, it 6gb on this drive, and really starts to have problems when free space goes below 10%.

    Why does MS not include folder sizes. It is a speed thing. The MS file system is not designed to store folder sizes, so it has to be recalculated every time. For folders that have many files and subfolders it can take a while, which makes people feel that “Explorer is slow”

  25. Ron

    Use the built in disk cleaner: http://techblissonline.com/run-windows-vista-disk-cleanup-tool-and-clean-all-junk-files/

    There are also a lot of freeware tools that will help you free up space. CCleaner is at the top of my list. Followed by CCenhancer, an addon for CCleaner. I also use Free Windows Cleanup tool, Wisk Disk Cleaner.

    There are also several free batch files that clean XP and Vista. You can download one from here: http://techblissonline.com/clean-cookiestemp-and-useless-files-with-windows-vista-system-junk-cleaner-batch-script/ . I like to customize it a little, ie comment out the cookies line (I prefer to be selective about which cookies I delete and keep) and I prefer not to constantly delete windows prefetch files. Every 6 months or so, maybe, but not weekly or monthly. I also like to pause the bat run and modify the cmd window before resuming running to expand the cmd window to fit across the full width of the screen (prevent wrapping to make reading easier) and increasing “height buffers” to over 1000 to keep all lines for review. I also have commented out the final “CLS” (Clear Screen) command so I can review what has been deleted.

    Revo Uninstaller also has disk cleaner module.

  26. David Boyd

    As far as the specific question asked. Apparantly the user saves all this data on drive D (at least that’s what I get out of what he writes). My question would be: why save 5 GB’s worth of pictures (presumably from his camera) on C? Isn’t that “data”. Wouldn’t it be smart to save that on D? That would free up a significant amount of space on C. Most descent camera software allows the user to specify where downloaded pics are stored, so that’s just a setting somewhere…

  27. David Hutchins

    If the user has one physical hard disk partitioned into two (C: and D:) and C: is short on space, perhaps he could take some space from D: and give it to C:. Repartitioning can be risky, if you don’t know what you are doing. There aren’t a lot of “on the fly” disk partitioning programs, but I have used the EASEUS partition manager very successfully. The home edition is free. Always backup, of course, before trying to re-partition. If space is tight on D: as well, perhaps he could add a 2nd physical hard drive (internal or external), move the data from D: to the new drive and then repartition to give C: the full physical disk. (Verify that the data got to the new hard drive first, of course). The first and easiest possible fix is to move his 5 gig of photos from C: to D:, as another person had commented. If that doesn’t help enough, then look at other options.

  28. Joey

    In my experience, one other thing that should be considered (which a lot of people don’t know) is that by saving lots of items to your desktop, it also saves it on the primary drive which could be in this case the low spaced drive. Also, doing a disk cleanup will more than often free up lots of space.

  29. Tony

    Interesting point on the difference between Memory and Disk Space. First time I tried to get my problem resolved, I was sold more Memory. The “low on disk space” warning promptly popped back up again a few minutes later.

  30. trevor123

    hello i inherited my brothers old laptop and it was completely full. after backing everything up i wanted off of it and deleting everything i know wouldn’t harm the computer its still pretty full. i did all of the regular things to free up space so i found this site and downloaded treesize. i think it must have had a virus at one time although i just got avast and ran it, it didn’t pick anything up. under treesize it says i have 62 gig in the installer tab under windows. i know that cant be right, but i dont have the disk a reboot and there are no restore points. what can i do to get rid of all that? the computer runs fine besides being so full. windows xp service pack 2, hp pavilion zv5000. any help would be appreciated.

  31. Connie

    Running a computer that is so full is certainly difficult. It
    may be that reformatting and re-installing would be the best
    choice. Here is an article about that:
    I don’t have an installation CD for Windows XP, what if I need one?

    Another good choice might be to switch to Ubuntu. It is a
    powerful, and free, operating system which doesn’t use as much
    resources as Windows and can bring life back to an old
    Should I convert to Linux?

  32. lynn

    Ok, so downloaded treesize and see where all my hard drive space is going, however, now I need to know what I can safely delete. For instance, under users, I have 331 mb in Public and 39 MB in guest. I am the only user. Guest is not on, but still using space. 1472 mb in Roaming, do I need everything there?

    You’d have to drill down into specific files to see what in those folders is taking up that space.

  33. Samuel

    Dear Leo, from a couple of days ago, around 1gb suddenly disappeared from my drive C and my internet became very slow, not even 10% of the usual speed. Not actually the navigation, it seems to be a little bit slower only, but to load videos on the YouTube, for example, and to download things it’s very, very slow. I was wondering what could be causing this and thought about virus, so I scanned it (XP) with some programs but it seems that there’s no virus, then I used the TreeSize and found that most of space is being used by a strange unindentified stuff that is C:Windowssystem32*.* with more than 370mb [2091 files], what is that? When I go to the folder even with the options adjusted to exhibit everything, I cannot find it. Also, the C:Windowsassembly has more than 420mb of which more than 208 is due to a folder named NativeImages_v2.0(…) and almost 170mb due to another folder like that, NativeImages_v4.0(…) and both filled more with Temp. Cold that be the problem here or is it normal? Could I delete those temp files from those folders? Also, Microsoft.NET has almost 340mb and ie8updates more than 150mb. Driver Cache has more than 100mb too. Apart from that I don’t know where those 1gb were taken up. System Volume Information has a fold with a restore_{A388…[and many numbers]… that is almost 200mb. I really don’t have a clue about what could I delete, and if what is taking up that 1gb is what is causing internet connection to be slower too and what to delete or to do. If you could at least give me some tip based on what I explained here, it could be very useful, otherwise I’ll have to send it to be fixed as with this speed is almost impossible to navigate. Could it have been caused by some virus caught when I was checking my email? Suddenly around 1gb disappeared and the internet became very slow at the same time. Well, thank you in advance for any possible help. All the best!

  34. Samuel

    PS: Also, I forgot to mention something important: When I noticed what happened, I tried to use the clean disk, then it had around 1gb there to be erased, but during the process it asked for the XP install CD and I don’t have it, so I had to choose the option to revert the process, it accused that original files were being substituted for non-certified files, then as I had not the install CD I had to revert the operation during the process, as I didn’t know if letting it be changed until the end could cause some bigger problem. And I used some tools and some viruses were removed, but now there’s nothing being identified any more and the the download speed is very slow again and that 1gb still being used.

  35. Jerry Gonzalez

    Thank you very much Leo you helped me to solve a problem that I have had for over 6 months. Thank you.

  36. Reverend Jim

    Whenever you install a windows update, files are saved in case you want to uninstall the update. In the case of a service pack this can amount to a large chunk of disk space. If you want to free up this space you can run DISM.EXE. I have bundled DISM in a CMD file with the options you need. Caution – this, in effect, freezes your computer at the current state. Once you run FREEZE.CMD you will be unable to uninstall any service packs installed up to that point (this will not affect any updates applied after running FREEZE.CMD). You need to run it from a command shell with Administrative access. Don’t do anything else while it is running and don’t panic if it takes many minutes to run. You might want to check how much free space you have before and after just to see how much space is released. Copy the following lines into the file FREEZE.CMD

    ::Remove service pack uninstall files
    ::Must be run with Admin rights
    DISM /online /Cleanup-Image /SpSuperseded

  37. Jack McElwee

    Leo, TreeSizeFree is so easy and quick to use. Now at last I can find out what is taking up all my disk space and safely get rid of what I don’t need or want. Thanks ever so much and have a swell week my friends- Jack/keimanzero Campbelltown PA.

    • DT


      Been using it for a couple of years. It shows a graphical view, where the size of the “squares” in the grid represent the size of the files/subdirs. Excellent.

  38. BKelly

    I use WinDirStat. This displays a visual representation of your hard drive space. (With or without free space). It also has optional windows that list in tree mode or by file type. Neat little program.

  39. Gord Campbell

    I’ve seen temp or tmp folders with thousands of tiny files — but they still take a cluster. It feels good to delete them. They also slow down some operations.

    Windows Update files also can build up over time, and have no value after a couple of months.

  40. lynn

    I used treesize and system volume information is the worst offender at 68,117 MB, is this normal? Windows is only using 36,500.

    • Mark Jacobs

      Windows would be using 36,500 GB, not MB which is almost 500 times as big as your System Volume Information file. 68,117 MB is not an extremely large file by today’s standards.

      • lynn

        Seriously doubt Windows uses 36 THOUSAND Gig. It is 36,000 MB as I wrote. However, now, I ran treesize again and the system volume info is only 3800 mb.

        • Mark Jacobs

          Sorry, my bad. That response was after a long day of correcting 70 exams and prescreening dozens of Ask Leo! comments questions.

  41. spelingchampeon

    I think this article should have an addendum to it. It appears to be covering WinXP type issues with bloated HD’s (based on the beginning of the comments in 2007).

    Todays Windows Vista-7-8 all have the HD eating maniac called WinSxS. For instance, my laptop has Win 7, and currently has 16GB dedicated to the WinSxS folder. WinSxS is a very complicated folder today, and everyone should be advised to NOT delete anything unless they know exactly what they are doing. Just a heads up.

  42. Old Man


    I also do not use hibernate, but hiberfil.sys takes up 6.33 GB. I’m using Win 8, and cannot find anyplace to disable it. Where was the setting in Win 7? Win 8 may have it in the same place.

    I, too, have a Reserve.tmp (C:\Windows\WinSxS) that takes up 3.00GB. Is there a setting to reduce that? Someone else mentioned it, but did not get a response to their question.

    The biggest “hog” (10.5 GB) is CustomRefresh.wim (C:\Refreshimage) that hasn’t been modified since I installed Win 8 in December. Can you shed any light on what that is and if it would be safe to delete it?

    I found these using Win 8’s search feature. Since I have more than one HD, I selected the one I wanted (C:\), clicked on the Search box to bring up the search tools, and selected Size – Gigantic. There’s also an option for 0 sized files (which always brings up a bunch of empty folders). Unfortunately, the results are by date modified, with the newest at the top. This may be helpful in deleting old files, but not in finding what’s taking up the most space.

    • Just Me

      @ Old Man

      the way to remove hiberfil.sys is with an administrator command prompt

      find command prompt where ever it’s hidden in win 8
      right click it & select run as administrator

      at the administrator command prompt

      type or paste the following

      powercfg.exe /hibernate off

      this will delete the hibernation file (hiberfil.sys) and turn off hibernation

      • Old Man

        Thank you. I got the same information from the MS forums, except it showed -h instead of /hibernate. I guess either will work.

        I also got answers to my other two questions.

        CustomRefresh.wim (C:\Refreshimage) is where Win 8’s Refresh looks. It should be updated frequently in case the user needs to refresh Win 8. See: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2748351?wa=wsignin1.0

        Reserve.tmp (C:\Windows\WinSxS) is where Windows stores updates. See: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2795190/en-us. Although the article is not for Win 8, it provides a good description.

        Hope this information is helpful to others.

  43. Phil

    This is the tool I’ve been looking for! Thank you, Leo, for the link to the tool and for you excellent (as always) description of how it works.

  44. Mphoza

    Wow Leo, I dunno how to thank you. This was really helpful. I was able to recover 300 GB of my hard disk space. I had no idea where it had gone to I tried almost everything. But this link(treesize) was exactly what I needed. You’re a star! Thanx a million!

  45. Jonas

    Thank you! I only had about 250gb left of my 1.8tb, turns out i had another account with over 600gb of unused stuff. Thank you very much!

  46. Bruce

    Leo. Great article. One question: Why did you write, “In this case, that’s actually a discovery for me because this machine will never use hibernate.”? I saw nothing in the original question that stated the user does not use hibernate.

    • Mark Jacobs

      Leo is writing about discovering the hibernation file, because he found it on his machine when he ran TreeSize. Basically he’s saying that in the process of running TreeSize for this article, he found a large file that he could get rid of himself.

  47. Scott Holder

    Hi Leo,

    Is there a way to track what’s eating disc space by date? My computer was down to under a gb, so I moved a podcast folder’s contents to an external drive, freeing up over 30gb. Then, in a couple days, I found I was down to 2gb, with no indication where all the space I’d freed up went to.

    • Not easily. Basically running a tool like TreeSize periodically and noting the differences or what’s taking up space now would be my approach.

  48. Dave Gomberg

    I run sw that resets my C disk every boot to remove anything that managed to install itself during the prior boot. There is a special mode to use if you wish to make a permanent C disk change. All my user data lives on the D disk, whose contents remain updated when they are changed. Most “basic” apps live on C, most “new” apps get installed on D.
    Running XP Home SP3, after 3 years of use, my C disk has only 12GB of files. Just one data point for you. Thanks for the columns.

  49. Chris Quirke

    Another free visual space management tool I’d recommend, is Windows Directory Statistics. I set it up as a non-default action for Drive and Directory (File Folder), but if you do this, note that the behavior of Vista and later will show System32 instead of all C: if you right-click the C: drive and click “Statistics”. It’s tempting to add just once as an action to Folder, but less good as that will offer “Statistics” for namespace objects such as Control Panel, Computer etc. where behavior will be undefined. Also note that the tool shows and lets you delete anything, so take care!

  50. Ming

    I was shocked by how my new laptop churned out 647GB of temporary files, which took up more than 90% of my hard drive.. Turns out it was a log file created by microsoft office which is kind of weird. Tree Size really saved me. Thanks a lot for the recommendation.

  51. pete self

    i want to buy a new computer, delete all bloat ware, install photoshop, nikon view, and lightrrom.. and then SEND outlook mail, downloads, liberies etc.. to a second physical drive. then ill make an image of C: so i can periodically reinstall the os and programs with no regard to outlook etc… does this make sense? HOW DO i redirect outlook, down loads etc… ? in other word i want to head off the problems above at the pass. am i off in my thinking?

    • Mark Jacobs

      Redirecting downloads is a function of the program which is downloading the file. With most browsers and some other programs can change the default download location in settings, and in some cases, you can specify the location when you download and the browser defaults to the last location used. With any programs which don’t allow this, you might have to manually move from the default download locations to your desired location periodically, although that should be a rare occurrence.
      As for Outlook, the process of changing the default location of the .pst file differs from version to version.

  52. BaliRob

    As my pc plus two hard drives seem to have given up the ghost I have had to resort to my prehistoric Acer Aspire. I am sure my question is pertinent to this thread and it is as follows:-

    Being desperately short of space on Acer(C) at 604 Mb BUT having 31.5 Gb free on Acerdata(D)
    is there any way I can take this free space and add it to the main drive C:\ please?

  53. James P

    I thoroughly endorse the recommendation for Treesize, which I have been using for years (it may even have been Leo that put me on to it). What astonishes me is that even now, Windows has no simple way of doing the same thing. Mind you, if MS wrote it, it would take up even more space.. :-)

  54. Rosy Silverson

    OMGosh! when I started this I had 99% used on my D Drive, found 3 years worth of back ups on there which I deleted now have 30% used on my D Drive so a whole 70% free space !!!!! have done a more recent backup now & computer feels alot happier,
    thank you Leo

  55. Finnvr

    HOLY SHIT! i just freed up over 100gb’s by deleteing old restore files.. i thanks the lord for running into this page and finding treesize!!

  56. Rose D

    Wow. That’s all I can say. Wow. Until I found this site/article I just kept losing disc space for at least the last 6 months. I’d lost 30G over the last month alone, when I hadn’t even been on the computer –had used my tablet exclusively. The battery was even close to dead. Then, I made it to this site (got here thru a Google search), followed your instructions, and went from 39G free space to almost 110! Discovered an old program, Azureus (Vuze), which I’d downloaded in 2009 and had UNINSTALLED long ago, was still stealing all my space in the Users folder. I investigated further to make sure it was safe to get rid of the Azureus folder, which it was, and there reappeared a nice chunk of free disc space! I can’t thank you enough. You helped this lady whose former husband once said “You know just enough about computers to be dangerous.” Well, we got things fixed! Even after my paid internet tech support couldn’t figure it out months ago! Thanks a million!

  57. Piyush Shukla

    I own a Dell studio 14 equipped with genuine windows 7 home premium. since last 6 months i am facing a problem that the windows drive (55 GB) gets full every 15 days (free space remains only 1 GB)and when i run a disk check on the drive its able to clean and free space rises as high as 22 GB. how to get rid of this exercise every 15 days.i don’t have OS DVD otherwise i’d have formatted it long back. please help.

    • I’d start by reading the article you just commented on to get an idea of exactly what files are growing so large each time. Based on that information you may be able to take corrective action.

  58. Anand Mathew

    I have an external hard disk with capacity 465 gb..but lately i have been running so short of memory like yesterday it was 20 gb and now it is 2 gb…i selected all files and folder and found that they are only holding 101 gb of memory…what about the rest 364gb? Where is it going? Help please

  59. Ron

    I have a legacy Vista home basic, SP2 with a 69.7 GB NTFS “C:” partition. The C:windows folder is 22.6 GB of which WINSXS is 14.6 GB. The C:Users\APPData\Local\Microsoft folder is 35.1 GB ! This seems inordinate to me since the machine only has a few basic programs where C:Program Files = 2.45 GB.
    There is only about 1.1 GB of free disk space which keeps contracting with every use until I do a cleanup that will give about 1.64 BG free.

    The machine often runs out of disk space during simple browsing. Data, music, etc is on a “D:” partition already.

    Can the C:Users\APPData\Local\Microsoft folder which it won’t open, be trimmed down, compressed, or something to free up disk space ?

    • I’d explore what’s in that folder in more detail first. I’d expect to be able to open it when logged in as Administrator, or with an account that has Administrative privileges. If not, then I’d go so far as to boot from a Linux live CD to at least poke around within it. I’m extremely reluctant to advise you do anything to it without first understanding what it is (I don’t know) or the potential side effects (I also don’t know). I suppose you may be able to enable Windows Disk Compression (right click on it and in properties click on “Compress Contents to Save Space”), but I’m not sure how much, if anything, that’ll get you.

  60. Loh Jia Hung

    WinDirStat also works well. Furthermore, it represents every file graphically and assigns colours to each file type. You are also able to highlight several files in each folder. And, no, this isn’t advertising.

  61. Hesking

    I have a problem with my hard disk. i have a bitlocker local disk D, and at that time my window crush i was about to format only C drive but as it say that i have to unlock first the drive D, so by mistake i try to unlock but i could not unlock. then i did not format. i start again the window but when i look at my D Drive all my Files loss and some window files appear in local Disk D almost like 199 mb. then the next time i format my C drive and the Drive loss so at this time i creat new volume with the letter K, So now can you tell me how to get back my important file from my loss local disk D. i tried so many file recovery but it does not work, some file come in the form of swif and zip.

  62. obiwanrei salamanes

    Dear Leo,
    Everytime i have question about computers, i usually read your blog. I have a question now… after downloading Treesize and Heavyload by Jam software and running it, i’ve notice that my disc space is depleting.. why is this and where did it go? What should i do now? Have run disccleanup and malware bytes antimalware, but it did’nt restore the missing disc space.. Please help

  63. Tony2

    Based on a recent TreeSize Free scan, SysPart is using a large chunk of my disk space. I notice it isn’t showing in the results in the example above from your computer Leo. What is this and how can I recover some of this space?

  64. Teresa

    Hi Leo. I have discovered a large hiberfil.sys file on my desktop SSD after running TreeSize. You wrote “this machine will never use hibernate. Disabling that feature allows me to delete hiberfil.sys and free up two gigabytes.”

    My computer doesn’t have hibernate as an option but it does go to sleep. I found a page on Microsoft’s site where they have a tool to disable Hibernate. Is this how to disable it? (If you want to see that page, this is the link http://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/920730)

    I just don’t see anywhere in my Control Panel to disable Hibernate myself since it doesn’t seem to be enabled (and since it’s not, I’m puzzled that I have a hiberfil.sys file).


  65. Mannny

    I installed TreeSize a few weeks ago but still can’t really tell what is going on with the over consumption of space. I have Windows 10 build 10240 with all updates as of 8/19/2015. I found out that most of the space I’m loosing is in a place called “System Volume Information” which currently has 109Gigs allocated and when I expand this folder all I see is a bunch of files that keep getting created every 2 or 3 days (one of them is 21Gig).

    As far as I know I have already disabled any automatic system backups but this is still going on and it started ever since I installed the Technical Windows 10 Previews. Any ideas on what else to do will be greatly appreciated.

    • Manny

      Just found out what the big files are (system restore points) and after some digging, I found out how to delete them from Windows 10. Actually not much different than Windows 7 but just a matter of some time to getting used to the new system.

      Thanks anyway.

Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article. Seriously. You'd be shocked at how many people make comments that prove they didn't.
  • Comment only on the article. If you have a new, unrelated question start with the search box at the top of the page.
  • Don't post personal information. Email addresses, phone numbers and such will be removed.

VERY IMPORTANT: because of a rise in comment spam that's making it through our filters any comments that do not add to the discussion - typically off topic or content-free comments - run a very high risk of being flagged as spam and removed.

If you have a new question unrelated to the article above, ask it on the Ask Leo! ask-a-question page.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *