Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Two things to try are to analyze your backup program and the allocation of your disk space.

I've opened the drive directory of a 500 GB external drive and checked contents and am unable to find the data that's causing the drive to fill up too fast. It's probably using an incremental backup method. I own an all-in-one HP Omni with a 500 GB drive internal with Windows 7 Enterprise. I also have a 298 GB external drive, which the computer seems to ignore (that's OK with me) with 56 GB free. My Seagate external drive is redlined, showing 28.7 GB free of 447 GB. It was about 12 GB free, but I ran a duplicate file finder and tried to delete some data and got this result. My C drive is 191 GB free of 447 which seems normal.

In this excerpt from Answercast #58, I look at ways to find out what is taking up all your disk space.

Incremental backups filling disk

So, if you are concerned that it's some kind of an incremental backup method, I would review the backups that you have set up. I mean, backups don't happen by themselves. It's something that you would have had to configure yourself using whatever backup program you are using. You configured it to do that.

I would review the settings and see if in fact the incremental backups are continuing to accumulate on that drive.

So, given that clue in your very question, that's the very first place that I would point you - review the very thing you suspect.

Analyze your data

Now, let's assume for a moment you have no idea what's taking up the space. In that case (and maybe even if you do), I would recommend you go take a look at an article of mine called, "Where's my disk space going?" That will introduce you to a utility called TreeSize.

TreeSize will actually analyze all of the files on a hard drive and display in sorted order where all the space is being used. I think you'll find it's a very quick and easy utility to be able to identify just what files or what folders are taking up all that space on your external drive.

With that information in hand, you can then take the next step, which would be to decide what to do. If it's data you don't care about, delete it. If it's data that you do care about, decide whether or not you want to keep it. If you don't want to keep it, delete it.

If you want to keep it (maybe keep it somewhere else), move it. If you want to take it offline, move it to a different device and take that offline. I mean, there's so many different options depending on exactly what you find.

And of course, if that then confirms that what you're dealing with here is that your backup program is simply accumulating data, then it may very well be time to reconfigure you backup program to do things in a slightly different way so as to make more effective use of this external drive.

End of Answercast #58, Back to - Audio Segment

Article C5884 - October 3, 2012 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

October 5, 2012 10:23 AM

I also really like Scanner2 - uses what the author calls a "sunburst chart" - nice graphic display of what's taking up space on your hard drive. Small app and doesn't require installation - just run it.

October 6, 2012 1:50 PM

I couldn't account for 35MB on my HDD.
I used WinDirStat.
At first I was overwhelmed by the initial graphic [there were other GUI settings]. But within a few minutes....Aha, found the culprit -AND- also a 18MB forgotten music/video folder that was left over from previous downloader folder [from old IE browser]. When I switched to FireFox, and with a choice of download locations [IE gave no choice], I forgot about this old folder.

These programs rock.

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