Finding What is taking up space on a harddrive

I have a friend and he has a hard drive with 4gb of disk space.

Right now all he has free is 200mb.

Neither he nor I can figure out what the heck is taking up space. I went on to the control panel and all I can see he has installed is Windows XP home edition, Outlook Express, Yahoo Messenger, and IE 6.0 and he also has about 25 Windows Service Pack. He gets things that say to download windows service packs.

Now I ran a search for files and there are no big files except for the SWP file.

I am thinking he has viruses and spyware and such. The thing is when I tried to download spybot he didn’t have enough space to download it.

Could these “service packs” he is getting from Microsoft be viruses?

What’s a good way to check on what the hell is taking up so much space?
My advice to him was to wipe the thing clean and reinstall Windows XP and just start over fresh.

Any ideas would be appreciated.

You have given him the best advise available.

That being said, windows patches and service packs leave hidden uninstaller folders under the windows directory. Go to your folder options and make sure that view hidden and system files are enabled then check in the windows folders for folder names like NtUninstallKB924667. Go ahead and whack them all. The one for SP2 is somewhere north of 200 meg.

Try emptying the recycle bin. Deleted files still hog up disk space until you empty the trash. Probably isn’t the problem, but you would be amazed how a gig or two of garbage can build in a few months. Also clean out the browser cache and temp internet files.

At the least it may clear up enough space to install spybot.

I don’t normally hype software, but there’s a super-awesome-can’t-recommend-it-enough tool called “Disk Scanner” by a Steffen Gerlach available here: that will show you disk useage in a super-simple format.

let me reassure you; if you’re running XP on a 4GB harddisk you don’t have any spyware/virus problems. You are already something of a genius to get it running like that, my ‘system’ partition on a relatively clean system (no MS office or other utils) is 5.5GB.
You might have a hardware problem, try a bigger disk.

It is an extremely small drive to run XP and the new programs on. A single game can take up over that much.

The email may have a lot of attachments.
The browser caches should be emptied.
The recycle bin set to remove files immediately.
The system restore should be set to use a very small percentage of the hard drive.
You should make sure the temp directories are emptied.
You should set the browser cache to a small size.
Many video players have a cache to themselves that can have a lot stored. Reduce their storage size to something very small.

Best of luck, the system needs a larger drive, immanently so.

If it’s a 4GB drive, you’re not going to find much to delete to make that big of a difference.

If it’s not really a 4GB drive, here’s how to get a list of large files on your system:

Start, Search, All Files or Folders, What Size is it, Specify Size (in KB), enter 10000, then click Search. That will find all files that are 10 megabytes or more. If you click Size twice on the files list, you’ll see the largest files first. As the search runs though, the files it finds will not be sorted by size, you have to keep clicking on Size.

Seconded. In my last big system upgrade, I made my C partition only 5GB, and it’s getting cramped.
He really should search his couch for spare change to buy a bigger hard drive. Even $40 is enough to buy one that will seem cavernous compared to 4GB. Heck, my wife has an iPod that big, and it won’t hold all of her music.

I’m not sure if this is similar to Nanoda’s suggestion, but I always use a program called WinDirStat. It shows you what files are taking up the most space on your hard drive graphically.

I’d also suggest a new hard drive. You can get a 40 gig drive for like $50.


A long time ago, in a thread far, far away, someone was Looking for visual file system explorer.

There were a few great recommendations in that thread, of which I’ve found WinDirStat to be particularly useful.

Get a bigger hard drive.

If you really don’t want to do that, then first make the swap file smaller and reboot. This will hopefully give you enough room to download a disk image viewer or a spyware detector. Then, once you’ve satisfied yourself that any problems in that area are taken care of, go to, and buy a bigger hard drive.

I’ve never known spyware to take up a bunch of space, though. Memory and network connection, sure, but not disk space.

I use windirstat. an excellent utility that shows what is taking how much space on your HDD.

I highly recommend it.

SpaceMonger also shows visually what is taking up space on a drive:

I’m surprised that no one has mentioned WinDirStat.

Also, since nobody has mentioned it, there is a utility called WinDirStat that shows you your files as a picture, so you can see exactly what is taking up your space.


I use this program.

Why does the download link for windirstat not work? (Unicode)

I’ve heard that there’s an obscure and little-known program called WinDirStat. Has anyone actually successfully downloaded it recently?

I’m getting weird things trying to download using Firefox, and when I download using IE, I get ‘not a valid zip file’ or ‘the installer is corrupted’ errors when I try to install (using the .ZIP or .EXE versions, respectively).

Given the number of recommendations here, I’m sure someone can speak to this.

Yes, you can download it from PCWorld without problems.
windirstat from PCWorld

That is one trippy-ass cool as hell program. I got it installed here at work and it installed/runs great. Very neat. You can click on any part of the picture and it will tell you what program/file it is.

Alternatively, consider trying SequoiaVeiw. It works fine, costs nuthin’ and looks cool.