Where have those 2 Gigabytes gone? And other questions (computer problems, obviously)

I’ve been having a bunch of trouble with my computer lately. The story starts in this thread, but i’ll summarize below what has been happening.

  1. My Internet Explorer started scrolling extremely slowly, and it became annoying. I ran Adaware and Spybot, but found nothing out of the ordinary, so i asked for some help on SDMB. I got some excellent suggestions from a bunch of people, and on the advice of Q.E.D. i used IEradicator to uninstall IE and then reinstalled it from scratch. At first this seemed to solve the problem, but…

  2. I then started getting script error messages whenever i opened a folder that was in Image Preview mode. SkipMagic pointed me in the direction of a fix, but while the fix explained how the problem might be fixed, it also alerted to me to an even larger problem.

  3. This larger problem was that, since the reinstallation of IE, the My Documents folder no longer appeared on the desktop. I tried all the methods suggested by the Microsoft support pages to get My Documents back on the desktop, but nothing seemed to work. SkipMagic suggested using TweakUI. I downloaded it, but that didn’t work either. And neither did the suggestion that i do the following:

  1. Skip then suggested uninstalling and reinstalling MS Office, because programs like Word and Access use My Documents as the default save folder, and Skip surmised that they would recognize that the folder was missing, and would install it. This didn’t work either.

  2. In the end, i decided that the only thing to do was to try to reinstall Windows ME, and hope the problem worked itself out. I tried that yesterday, after returning home from a couple of weeks out-of-state. I put the Windows disc in, and every thing was going fine until the file-writing part of the installation was 65% complete. Then i got an error message, and the option to either Ignore and continue, or Cancel. I chose Ignore in an attempt to complete the setup, but it wouldn’t work. In the end i had to hit Cancel, aborting the Windows installation. Another error message came up, saying that there was an error in some .dll file, and the Windows Setup closed.

  3. And finally, last night i discovered another anomaly. When i select all the folders in my C drive and click on properties to see how much space they’re taking up, it adds uo to 14Gb (incluuding all my documents, program files, windows, etc.). Yet, if i just click on the C Drive icon in My Computer, it says that i am using 16.4Gb of space. So apparently 2Gb or so is being taken up my something that i don’t know about.
    Obviously i’m going to have to take the computer in to be looked at, but i was wondering if anyone had an explanation for where this extra 2.4Gb on my hard drive might have gone?

Also, my hard drive is only 20Gb, and i’ve wanted a bigger one for a while. I was thinking about taking the computer to the store (there’s a good local repair shop nearby) and having them install an 80Gb hard drive, and just install windows from scratch and only transfer over my documents to the new hard drive. Then i could reload all my programs from scratch. Does this sound like a logical way to fix my problem and get a bigger hard drive at the same time? Is it possible that whatever is causing my problems would survive the replacement of the hard drive?

Sorry this was so long. Any advice most appreciated.

I had the same thing happen with my computer and Windows ME. I never did figure out why. I upgraded to XP and things were fine again.

Installing a new hard drive and reloading everything is the cleanest way to go even though it may be a fair amount of work. The problem should not move to the new hard drive. I recommend that you upgrade your OS after the hard drive to keep it from happeing again however.

I’ve had the same trouble on Windows ME. In my case, it was the restore folder, which is normally hidden. Mine had something like 3 gigabytes out of a 20 gigabyte hard drive.

This program is pretty good for determining what is taking up all that room on your hard drive.

Windows ME is a giant pain in the ass. I’ve taken to making periodic backups of all my files so that iif it crashes and I have to reinstall I don’t lose anything of value.

Go for XP. That missing 2+ Gigs are either an error, or a hidden directory or partition. Typical ME problem.

Going for XP will solve all of those problems.

But I have to throw in my opinion on all of those minimal one trick pony programs. I would advise against using them. It is better to actually learn where to find these options, rather than have a program find it for you. Plus, it will clutter up your system with all of these extra added installed programs. Even if they are just executables, it is still messy, in my opinion.

Take it to the local computer place (or send it to me) and they should be able to install XP, transfer all of your files, get you a new hard drive, and, in turn, fix all of your problems.

It is indeed the Restore folder. When i right-click the folder and look at its properties, it says that there are 9,047 files and 5 folders, taking up over 1.6 Gb. But when i open the folder, there are only four files totalling 60kb.

Is it safe to delete the folder altogether? What’s the deal here?

[urband legend]
Windows ME is actually an experiment that Microsoft put out to see if unsuspecting consumers would actually pay for a Virus.
[/urban legend]

I’ll echo everyone else. Go with XP if you can. There is no comparison.

Mhendo: don’t delete the restore folder; instead, go to Control Panel | System | Performance | File System | Troubleshooting and click “Disable System Restore.” Reboot immediately. Upon startup, the files within system restore should be (mostly) erased and give you back the majority of that allocated file space.

To learn more about what System Restore does, go to this page.

Now, that said, are you still missing a .dll? Were you able to reinstall WinME after the initial setup closing?

And, of course: did your My Documents folder ever reappear?

When you see the hard drive numbers, remember that your files take up a certain number of bytes, but they use up a larger number of bytes on the hard drive. This is because your filesystem addresses blocks of specific size. If you have a 4096 byte blocks and 50 of 100 byte files, you have 5000 (50 * 100) bytes of file data, but 20480 (50 * 4096) bytes used on the disk since files cannot share blocks.

This is true unless you have a conpressed drive. Then forget what I said… :slight_smile:

Well, Skip, i tried what you suggested and the Restore folder still has about 1.7Gb in it. And IE is crashing on a semi-regular basis now, too (this has been happening for a day or so).

I don’t know if i’m “missing” a .dll. Is that what it means when you get a .dll error? I tried twice more to reinstall ME, and both times it stopped at exactly the same place as the first time–65% of the way through the file-writing process.

And My Docs is still out to lunch.

I think i’m just going to bite the bullet and take it in to the shop tomorrow.

Restore uses 12% of your HD space, so 12% of 20 gigs= 2.4 gigs

BTW, drop to the DOS prompt & see how much it reports.

Well, you can manually adjust the System Restore folder’s size by

In your other thread, when you mentioned you were going to reinstall WinME, I assumed you were going to wipe the drive first and then install Windows. My suggestion is that, instead of spending money on a tech guy, you back up your files, wipe the hard drive, and then reinstall Windows from scratch.

Reinstalling WinME and 9x over an exisiting installation has always been a crapshoot if you ask me. An erase and install works better.

Would you be able to back all of your files up to do a reinstall–and do you have all the program CDs (or diskettes) for those programs you’d want to keep?

As for your .dll: depending on the missing .dll (there are many in your system put in place by many different software companies), the message may differ. A .dll is a dynamic-linked library… which is basically a file used by separate programs for the same function. (It sounds like a good idea–and it can be–but if the file goes missing or bad, more than one program can fail as a result.)

So, unless you get that missing .dll message again, there’s no sure way of seeing which one it is.

Which is why I’d wipe the machine and reinstall WinME (or, better yet–and your machine can support it–WinXP Pro); if you’re missing .dll(s), have had to uninstall and reinstall IE, and still can’t get your “My Documents” folder showing, then it’s best to just start all over. In the long run, I feel, it’ll be less frustrating and (if you do take it to the tech guy) much cheaper.

Sounds like a good idea to me. Now for the really stupid question–how?

Do you know of any websites that give a step-by-step process of how to do it?

The programs are no problem, as i have the original discs for all of my important software. And i can back up things like word documents, pdf files, digital pictures, etc. on CDs.

Again, thanks for all the advice.

It’s not that difficult to install a Windows OS. Despite Microsoft’s flaws in certain areas, I don’t think creating a difficult installation can be counted as one.

You’ll need your Windows Product Key to reinstall (which should be on the back of your original CD cover), but if you don’t have it, you can get it from your registry by following these steps:

1.) Click Start | Run and type in “regedit”
2.) Click “OK”
3.) Select Edit | Find from the menu.
4.) Type in “Product Key”. Once the search stops you should see it on the right. Write it down.

So, on we go:

1.) Back up all of your files. (Since most people–including me–forget certain files even after they’re sure they’ve backed everything up, I usually suggest that you back as much up as you can in one night, and then leave the computer as-is for an evening. Then, the next day, double-check yourself to make sure you have all that you want. Of course, this all depends on the time you have available.)

2.) If you don’t have a Windows bootdisk on hand, you’ll need to create one:

a.) Boot your system up.
b.) Insert a blank, 1.44 MB floppy disk.
c.) Click on Start | Settings | Control Panel
d.) Double-click the “Add/Remove Programs” icon.
e.) Click the Startup Disk tab and create disk.

3.) Leave the new bootdisk in the floppy drive and restart the computer.

4.) As long as your BIOS is setup to start from the floppy drive (most do that by default), the computer should try starting from the floppy disk. When it does, make sure that you choose “Start with CD-ROM support”.

5.) Pay attention to the screen and see which drive letter the startup process assigns the CD-ROM. Remember that. (Most of the time it should be “E:”) [If the startup disk does not see a CD-ROM, don’t go any further with these instructions.]

6.) Once your computer has started up, you should see the A:> prompt. Type in “Format C:” and press “Enter” on your keyboard.

7.) You’ll get a message asking if you’re sure you want to erase all the information on your C: drive. Type “Y” for “Yep, go ahead and do it–I’m feeling brave!” :wink:

8.) Wait for the format to complete; you have 20 Gigs, so it ought to take a wee bit.

9.) When it’s done formating, it’ll ask you for a name for the hard drive. You can give it a name, but I usually just leave it blank. Enter a name–or not–and press “Enter” on your keyboard.

10.) Once you’re back at your A:/> prompt, type in “E:” (or whichever is the letter assigned to your CD-ROM drive).

11.) Once you see a E:/> prompt (or, once again, whichever is your CD-ROM drive), type in “setup” and press “Enter” on your keyboard.

12.) The setup for Windows ME will start. Just follow the instructions (and make sure you have your WinME CD-Key on hand) until you’re finished. The install should take about 45 minutes to an hour.

I do have some caveats to add:

1.) During setup, WinME may not recognize all of the drivers for all of the hardware you’ve added on since you got your computer. Make sure you have all of your hardware CDs/diskettes on hand. Otherwise, you may end up without sound (which can be fixed) or proper video.

2.) Install an anti-virus program! Update it!

3.) Once you’ve done a complete install, make sure you get on-line and download the latest updates for WinME and your programs.

4.) It’s really not that bad to do all of this. During the process, in fact, you’ll probably learn a lot about how Windows is set up. It can be interesting–if you’re a geek like some of us. :slight_smile:

There’s a better way, Skip.

Copy the whole CD to a directory on your local HDD.

Find and save your product key as before.

Create a boot disk.

Reboot to a command prompt (not safe mode command prompt). Run smartdrv.

Rename c:\windows\win.ini and c:\windows\win.com

Rename c:\windows

change to the directory where you copied the CD and install Windows.

This way has the advantage that if everything goes wrong, you’ll be able to back out.

You’re right, qts, and that has and does work for a lot of people; however, I usually avoid doing that because, at the end of it all, your hard drive is still cluttered with all those unused files outside of the Windows directory that you probably need to get rid of, anyway. (I start to favor more and more clutter-free machines as I get older. I don’t have nearly the amount of prgrams installed now contrasted to a few years ago. I’m getting to be an old fogey with that. :p) Plus, depending on the person installing, it can get confusing.

And, truthfully, it all depends on how screwed up you think your current install of Windows is. If you’re determined on never returning to your current install (because of the problems), then there’s no sense in taking up the space on the hard drive.

Still, mhendo, that is another way of doing it and saving all of your already installed files in the process. (You’ll still need to reinstall most of your programs so that they’ll run properly, though. Even though, as qts’ method describes, you don’t actually change anything other than your Windows directory, win.ini and win.com, you’ve just lost [moved] your registry settings and shared .dlls for those programs. But in the end, you have a quick way of getting back to your current install if you don’t like how the brand-new install is going.)

Thanks for all the help. I think i’m going to go with Skip’s complete procedure, because if it doesn’t work i’ll just cough up for a new hard drive. It might take a couple of days for me to back up all the files, reinstall windows, and reinstall all my programs, but i’ll report back once it’s done.

I wouldn’t go buy a new hard drive unless you’re sure that you have a defective one now. Thus far it sounds like you more of a software problem than a hardware.

But if you want to check your hard drive, start up with that bootdisk, get to your A:/> prompt and type in “scandisk”. In the options available for scan disk, make sure you do a thorough scan instead of the one that takes a few minutes. This will check your hard drive for any physical damage (bad clusters). It’s a free tool that does a fairly good job, so unless you actually have bad clusters showing in scandisk, you probably don’t have a defective hard drive.

(I say “probably” because there are some physical defects that scandisk may not see. I rarely come across those, though, so you should be fine.)

Well, i’ve finally done it. I backed up all my files, crossed my fingers, and reformatted my hard drive, as per Skip’s instructions.

Now everything is hunky-dory again, and i have the benefit of having all my stuff backed up on CDs. Much of it i won’t even bother putting back on the hard drive, in order to save space. I even managed to save my Outlook Express email files. I’d still like a bigger hard drive, but that can wait until my financial situation is a little better.

Thanks to everyone for the help and advice.