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Why does my C: drive, under MS Windows 8.1 keep filling up with garbage?

Parameters: 228GB SSD
hiberfile: 26.8GB
pagefile: 19.9GB
swapfile: 16.8Megabytes

I searched for large system files but only found hiberfile and pagefile. Is there another hidden location for the remaining 181 GB?

Why does this not show up on any searches? In search, I enter size:>1gb but nothing shows! No hiberfile, pagefile, or swapfile. Do system files show up in searches?

So where is the other 181.3GB and why can't I see it?

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  • Programs like WizTree provides very helpful information required to answer a question like this.
    – Ramhound
    Dec 1, 2018 at 15:26

2 Answers 2

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Generally, the first thing to do in such cases is to use Window's own Disk Cleanup utility. You can find it by opening the context menu over the hard disk volume you want to clean in the "My Computer" section of the Explorer. The dialog, that comes up, has several tabs. On the very first tab, there is a button labeled "Disk Cleanup" (or similar, I am on a localized version). This starts a scan, which, once finnished, lets you choose what to delete and what to keep.

A much better option would be to use (the free version of) CCleaner, but make sure to disallow cleaning of browser cookies, otherwise you may lose those, that are important to you. You can, of course, configure, which cookies to delete and which not, but its time consuming. So, general advice would be, to make yourself familiare with that program first, rather than just "hit and run". Of course, CCleaner allows to scan without purging, so this gives a way to test, what eats up so much space.

Technically, there is many places, why your system drive could fill up. The following list states mostly the obvious and is far from complete:

  • You may have set %TMP% or %TEMP% to be hosted on the C: drive. You can check its location by checking both echo %TMP% and echo %TEMP% in a command console.

  • When Windows updates, sometimes it keeps the old installation (or parts of it) in a folder C:\Windows.old. This may use up a huge chunk of available space.

  • Windows likes to keep old installers on disk. This can fill up.
  • Using Thunderbird Email client, there is a logging option, that I once forgot to switch off, and it logged every single IMAP access I did to disk. After a few years, this consumed storage in the gigabyte range. The same applies for any application, that does logging, of course.
  • Another option may be an email folder with many attachments, media folders, etc.
  • Obvious, but nevertheless should be mentioned: the Downloads folder. Are you using the computer alone?
  • Often, hardware vendors, like Intel or Nvidia, like to keep their installers on disk, too, spanning several versions.

Another utility, that may help is the free WinDirStat. It will create a visual map of folders and files and put them into relation to the size, they occupy.

According to Microsoft Technical Support system files are excluded from the search by default. You can enable this by following the instructions in this referenced article. I can not say, whether this will include the swap and hibernate files, since the search on my Windows10 system seems to behave differently.

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Check for the Windows Backup file/configuration - it may "reserve" space but do not use it, because of that, backup file will appear to be small, but because of storage reservation this gigabytes will appear as used while checking the disk space. Regards

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  • OK, how do I access the "Windows Backup file/configuration??
    – toaduso
    Dec 1, 2018 at 10:09
  • superuser.com/questions/1081838/… gives another possibility; WinDirStat run as an admin. How do i do that??
    – toaduso
    Dec 1, 2018 at 10:26
  • @toaduso Right click the Windirstat icon and select 'Run as administrator' Dec 1, 2018 at 10:58

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