Help With Disk Space Old XP Machine


My old XP machine has a 200GB hard drive. It is telling me that I don’t have enough free space to properly run a disk defrag. I downloaded AusDefrag and ran it anyway, but it didn’t help.

I KNOW that I have a lot of free space on this drive…there’s hardly anything on it! What can I do or need to do in order to resolve this issue? The computer is running terribly slow as a result.

Please help, this is the machine I let the kids use and I need it!


I have already tried deleting temp files, multiple disk cleanups, deleted tons of pictures that I don’t think I even needed to, just to try to get this thing to realize the space I know it truly has. Any ideas?


And after that, you can run Defraggler, by the same company. Both are freeware, and defraggler is better than Windows defrag (and I think doesn’t require 15% free?).

Do you have multiple partitions? As in the OS is running low on space, and you have loads of free space on a different partition. It’s how much freespace you have on the partition that matters.

Microsoft’s defragmentation utility does demand 15% free space. On a 200 GB drive that’s 30 GB.


First off, you need to see what you have on that drive. WInDirStat will go through your disk and report what largest files, directories, etc. Its free and open source.

Delete whatever you dont need anymore. Empty the recycling bin.

This is what I used. Very useful utility! Thank you! I ended up having to nuke the good old Dr Watson, as he was consuming over 100GB of hard drive space for some freaking reason. I tried to disable it but it wouldn’t work, so I deleted it through windirstat.

Now I’m using MyDefrag, which is a pretty nice freeware defragger too.

Anyone think I did irreperable harm to my machine by deleting Dr Watson? I read up on it and it sounded like something you could live without.

Worse case scenario is I just do another clean install, but I did one only about a year ago.

Why would Dr Watson consume so many resources like that?

There’s no way on earth that drwatson could consume 100 GB just for itself! You probably have a lot of unabridged system dumps, but still, 100 GB? Are you sure that’s not a typo? Did you mean MB instead of GB or something?

Dr Watson collects memory dumps from crashed applications. If each crash is 1gig of RAM written to file then 100 crashes is 100 GB.

Has something been crashing? Or the computer BSOD and rebooting? Its unusual to have that large of a debug dump.

No, it really was. I was shocked to see one program sucking down that much space, especially one that I had no idea what it was or did (and frankly, a program called “Dr Watson” sounds kinda spyware-ish…why call it that?). Once I read up on the basics of what Dr Watson did for Windows, I was even more stunned that so much memory could have been eaten up there. But it was.

The computer has crashed many times in the past from older videogames, which have all been removed…it crashed with this version of XP when the power supply failed, which I replaced.
Is it really possible to accumulate that much memory in a program like that? Because now I feel really stupid deleting a shitload of songs and family pictures and movies in an unsuccessful attempt to create room on my hard drive so I could defrag, because I felt that was what I really needed to run in order to get the computer to “acknowledge” that it did indeed have more disk space than it thought it had. I was slapping my head in frustration going through all the programs trying to figure out where all this memory was until I ran the windirstat utility.

Fuckin’ A this is a bitch. I bet that thing is *still *defragging, too.

A quick thing to do:

  1. Delete everything in your temp directory.
  2. Empty your recycle bin.
  3. Delete *.log in your windows directory. Some of them it won’t let you delete, but the rest you can do without.

If you’ve never done this before, it’s amazing how much space you can free up.

A friend of mine with computer knowledge told me there’s no way there would be that much memory in there unless there was a virus or a trojan causing it to happen.

It is my stepdaughter’s MySpace machine…

>Because now I feel really stupid deleting a shitload of songs and family pictures and movies in an unsuccessful attempt to create room on my hard drive so I could defrag

You can use an undelete utility to get these things back. If you havent done much writes to the disk then you might be able to get them back.

>A friend of mine with computer knowledge told me there’s no way there would be that much memory in there unless there was a virus or a trojan causing it to happen.

Im not a computer security person, but I have been doing Windows admin and support for ages and have yet to see this happen. I would first tackle the issue with crashes and check the event log to see is anything suspicious is going on. I would then visit the manufacturers website and update all the drivers, especially video drivers.

>It is my stepdaughter’s MySpace machine…

What AV is it running? MS released its own called Security Essentials, Id use that over third party stuff like AVG or Norton.

FWIW, I am a fan of a third-party free open source defragger called JKdefrag:

I dont think it needs as much freespace as the built in windows one.

Not sure how you nuked Dr. Watson, but here are the dump settings for Windows:

Right-click My Computer, click Properties, click Advanced tab, click Settings button in “Startup and Recovery” section. Under “Write Debugging Information”, see if you had Complete Memory Dump selected. That’s not a default setting.

I strongly doubt even that could consume 100 GB! While your friend may have computer knowledge, many of the folks you can find here are experts. And we’re telling you: No way.

While HorseloverFat is correct insofar as 100 full 1GB RAM dumps could theoretically consume that much disk space, DrWatson’s default is to create “mini-dumps” that would consume much less space per dump, and besides, the default for number of crash dumps to keep is 10, not 100, so you’d never approach 100 GB unless you deliberately altered the default settings (something I’ve never felt the need to do). You can easily examine the settings by selecting “Start -> Run…” then entering “drwtsn32.exe” (the quote marks aren’t needed). You’ll get a pop-up window that will show the log file path as well as the crash dump path. If it doesn’t/didn’t match the location of the 100 GB of “Dr. Watson” data you found, then you can eliminate Dr. Watson as a suspect, my dear Holmes.

You might want to change the “Number of Errors to Save” to, say, 3 (or even 1), and set the “Crash Dump Type” to “Mini”. It’s probably not a good idea to turn off crash dumps entirely, but you don’t need to keep more than one or a few (rather than 10).

Still, I’d wager that the “100 GB” size you encountered was more likely the result of accidental directory clobbering or other data corruption than any malware. In any case, you really NEED to install some good anti-malware tools immediately! You’re far, far better off buying commercial anti-malware tools, but you can find more-or-less acceptable freeware tools, such as Avira anti-virus or Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, or many others besides. I strongly advise against choosing Norton/Symantec or McAfee, though!

If you want more detailed help, you might want to consider posting your request on Windows XP Annoyances. Their message board software is unbelievably crude, but on the plus side, a great many knowledgeable users and helpers visit that forum…

As you know, Dr. Watson was Sherlock Holmes’ assistant. So what this nomenclature is suggesting is that you are Holmes trying to track down the cause of the crash, and Dr. Watson is assisting you…
(… about as well as the offensively dumbed-down Watson of the Basil Rathbone films, perhaps, but still …)

Note that Dr. Watson is also recording the results, like he did in the books.

I did once have spyware that screwed up my hard drive, taking 50GB, which was almost all the free space left on the hard drive. I say it was adware as running Ad-Aware fixed it.

Oh, and undelete won’t work after a defrag.