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Erroneous low disc space message

January 24, 2010 at 09:35:07
Specs: Windows XP

This happens periodically.
I'll get a message saying low storage space.
I know there are at least 20GB free.
Looking at the HD capacity on my computer tells me it's zero.
If I ignore this, in 8 hours or so, it stops and I can see I have maybe 20GB of space when I check.

What is causing this to tell me I have no space when I do?

This is NOT a matter of a full HD, it's an actual error when there is definitely room on the drive, despite what My Computer says.

I can remove nothing and find I have space hours later.


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#1
January 24, 2010 at 11:04:03

You can get low disk space messages about other partitions other than the partition Windows is on when you have other partitions. Are you sure the message is about the partition Windows is on?

Brand name systems have two partitions on the original single hard drive software installation on the drive you boot from, even if you are not seeing the second partition in Windows because of the way the brand name has set things.

"Looking at the HD capacity on my computer tells me it's zero."

Where do you see that?
The total capacity is zero, or the remaining capacity (free space) is zero?

"If I ignore this, in 8 hours or so, it stops .."

What do you mean by "...it stops...."

Check your hard drive with the manufacturer's diagnostics.
See the latter part of response 1 in this:
http://www.computing.net/windows95/...

(thanks to Dan Penny for this link:)
Hard Drive Diagnostics Tools and Utilities
http://www.tacktech.com/display.cfm...

If you don't have a floppy drive, you can get a CD image diagnostic utility from most hard drive manufacturer's web sites, but obviously you would need to make a burned CD, preferably a CD-R for best compatibilty, on another computer if you need to.

If the hard drive itself tests okay, any data problems found can be fixed, one way or another.


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#2
January 24, 2010 at 11:07:27

"I know there are at least 20GB free".

And you know this how?

Adding up your folder contents isn't telling the whole story. There are hidden system files, files in the recycle bin and the Virtual memory (Windows swap file).


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#3
January 24, 2010 at 11:09:11

Sorry, terminology error. MY Computer tells me the correct capacity, but that it has 0 space free.

And what I mean by "it stops" is that later I can check the same thing in My Computer and now it tells me there are 20GB of open storage space available.
This without having removed any data at all.


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Related Solutions

#4
January 24, 2010 at 11:12:56

I know this because this has happened numerous times. I'll have a good amount of space available. Suddenly I get these low space messages, check the space available, see it's 0.

Hours later, the messages stop, I check the space available and it's the same as it was before the error messages began.

As I said, this has happened MANY times. I'm not an idiot, what I'm reporting here is an accurate account.


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#5
January 24, 2010 at 11:18:15

Is there any rebooting in between these events?

What types of tasks are you performing when this happens?

Any burning of optical disks going on during this time?

What capacity is the hard drive in question and what is the partition capacity in question?

Did you install Windows your self or did it come pre-installed on an OEM computer?

Watch the POST screens at start up to verify the BIOS is properly identifying the drive by both the model number and the FULL capacity.


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#6
January 24, 2010 at 11:25:25

Yes, when this first occurred, I rebooted. It still read as 0 space available on the HD. But as always within a few hours I could find the correct space available again.

Now that I think about it, I've rebooted whenever this has happened, always with the same results.
Zero space available showing immediately after reboot, then showing the correct amount later.
When this first occurred, I would burn discs and remove data after in an attempt to free space. It would show the space freed initially, but after a short time, it would show 0 space available again.
The problem clears up eventually whether I burn data and remove it or not.

I've been using computers for mant years and never seen this happen before.


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#7
January 24, 2010 at 11:29:15

What capacity is the hard drive in question and what is the partition capacity in question?

250GB, no partitions

Did you install Windows your self or did it come pre-installed on an OEM computer?

Pre-installed on a Gateway, but it was restored not long ago after a booting problem.

Watch the POST screens at start up to verify the BIOS is properly identifying the drive by both the model number and the FULL capacity.

I've done this and they do read accurately.


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#8
January 24, 2010 at 11:31:25

There might be a communication problem here. I suggest that you post the following for both 'good' and 'bad' conditions:

Used space
Free space
Capacity


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#9
January 24, 2010 at 11:36:43

Try resetting the Virtual memory manually and then back to letting Windows handle it.

Next time this happens go to Disk Management and view the drive there to see if the full capacity is shown. Could be some type of glitch in the drive circuitry.

Do you regularly clean out temp files and empty the recycle bin?

I suggest that you download and use Cleaner Slim daily. Get it at the link below.

http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner/bu...

BTW, the low disk space is probably because Windows needs at least 15% free space in order to perform a defrag. You could also look at how must space is being reserved for System Restore. The setting is variable.


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#10
January 24, 2010 at 11:40:51

bad
Used space I did not check this during the problem and don't know what it read. The problem stopped now, so I cannot check it now.
Free space 0GB
Capacity 232GB
good
used space 213GB
free space 19.3GB
capacity 232GB



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#11
January 24, 2010 at 11:43:43

Try resetting the Virtual memory manually and then back to letting Windows handle it.

I'll give it a shot.

Next time this happens go to Disk Management and view the drive there to see if the full capacity is shown. Could be some type of glitch in the drive circuitry.

Same here.

Do you regularly clean out temp files and empty the recycle bin?
Constantly. I download a lot of data and am burning it off almost daily. So I'm very sensitive to how much space I have available.


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#12
January 24, 2010 at 11:46:33

If you think 20GB is missing because you see only 232GB you are mistaken. That is the correct number. This is due to the manner in which manufacturers calculate space versus the way a computer actually uses space. Manufacturers use 1000MB = 1GB. In actuality it is 1024MB = 1GB.

Multiply the stated capacity by .93 to arrive at the approx capacity. 250 x .93 = 232.5

Hey aegis1, where you been lately?


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#13
January 24, 2010 at 11:52:55

Hi Othehill, The questions are getting too tough for my increasingly senile old brain (80+), so I come here rarely.

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#14
January 24, 2010 at 12:00:16

Ever hear the phrase "use it or lose it"? Applies to brain tissue too, LOL.

There are plenty of questions I am sure you can handle. Possibly better than some that have joined lately.

The current thread is an example. It never dawned on me the issue may be something different, like I mentioned or what you questioned. You still got it. I'm just a youngster at 66 in a month but that is why I hang here. That and I eat less when on the computer.


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#15
January 24, 2010 at 12:05:53

If you think 20GB is missing because you see only 232GB you are mistaken. That is the correct number.

Not the case at all. It seems the only person confused here is you.
I'm well aware the full capacity is not displayed and what I'm saying has nothing to do with that.

I've mentioned repeatedly that when at this point in time, it tells me there is 19.3GB of free space, then 10 minutes later it tells me there is 0GB of free space, then an hour later it tells me there is 19.3GB of free space, there's a problem and it has nothing to do with how much capacity is displayed.

I only listed capacity because someone else asked for it, not because it really bears on the problem at hand.


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#16
January 24, 2010 at 12:09:11

To Othehill:
"use it or lose it" - no doubt about that
"I eat less when on the computer" - me too :-)

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#17
January 24, 2010 at 12:27:45

No need to be defensive here. We don't know your capabilities any more than you know ours. We need to be on the same page. Another member threw out a possibility and I responded with the word "IF". So of that isn't the case then one more possibility out of the way.

Due to the fact this problem is not currently occurring we can't really proceed any further unless the issue manifests itself again.

I would say that because the issue is intermittent it is probably not due to a hardware issue.

Do you have any cleaning utilities set to run at start up? That could explain things.


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#18
January 24, 2010 at 12:37:49

Test the hard drive Windows is booted from.
See Response 1.

"Manufacturers use 1000MB = 1GB. In actuality it is 1024MB = 1GB."

Computer bioses and operating systems always use the binary method of expressing the size of the drives.
1,024 bytes per kb, 1,024 kb per mb, 1,024 mb per gb, 1,024 gb per tb (tetrabyte).
1mb = 1,048, 576 bytes
1 gb = 1,073, 741,824 bytes
1 tb = 1,099,511,627,776 bytes.
The total number of bytes on the drive is the same, or extremely close to the same, whichever way the size is expressed.

"250GB, no partitions."

Partitions = the number of blocks of data that have been organized by the operating system's partitioning software so data can be stored on it and the data be recognized by the operating system, after the partition has also been formatted. The hard drive may not have multiple partitions, but it has one - if it didn't have any partitions you would see no data at all, and the drive would not show up in My Computer or Windows Explorer.
As I said in response 1, all brand name systems that I know of have two partitions on the orginal hard drive for their orginal software installation, but sometimes the brand name installation hides the second partition from the user in Windows. Either that, or the second partition is visible in Windows but you are not allowed to access it.
In either case, the second partition can be seen by the XP CD when you boot from it, and in Disk Management in XP (if it has been hidden, it's an unknown partition type there)


~ 250gb decimal as expressed by the manufactuer divided by 1.073, 741,824 = ~ 232.8128.... (binary) gb
That's the "raw" size of the entire drive's space.
When you software partition and format the drive partition so you can use it in a operating system, that uses up a small percentage of that "raw" space on the drive that cannot be used by the user to store data on, so the size in Windows is a bit smaller than the "raw" size the bios sees.
Software partitioning a drive partition and then formatting that partition are done in XP (2000 and up) in one step, rather than two as they were in ME and previous.


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#19
January 24, 2010 at 16:49:01

I know this is rather late in the game, but is there any chance that the Messages you get refer to VIRTUAL memory rather than available Disk Free Space.

Windows constantly adjusts the Pagefile according to what it needs. Adjustment can be Larger (less free space) or smaller (more free space) .

It stands to reason if you are downloading lots of "STUFF" and Burning lots of "STUFF" your pagefile will vary quite a bit in size.

True 20GB seems excessive but this is M$ Windows. At the risk of slowing down your Download/Burning operations, try limiting the Pagefile to 2GB max and Min and see what transpires.

There is nothing to learn from someone who already agrees with you.


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#20
January 24, 2010 at 19:06:07

Dumbob

See #9.


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#21
January 24, 2010 at 19:30:03

Regardless of this whole '20GB mystery', the OP is running too close to max capacity & is only going to encounter more & more problems because of it.

It's time to clean house...dump old files, uninstall old programs, transfer important files/pics/documents to other media (CDs, DVDs, external HDD) then delete them from the HDD, clean out the crap with CCleaner as was suggested by OtH, reduce the amount of space used by System Restore (also suggested by OtH), etc.

Another option would be to replace the current HDD with a bigger one or to install a 2nd HDD for storage.

BTW, don't forget that there's probably a hidden recovery partition that won't show up in My Computer.


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