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Recovery partitions are meant to only hold system recovery files. It shouldn't be written to and doesn't need more space.

I have an HP Pavilion DV6 with Win 7. I just transferred my files from an HP with XP and I noticed that about 90% of my recovery drive is now used. It must have backed all that I transferred. Is there a way to view what's on the recovery drive and selectively delete stuff or send it to another backup drive?

In this excerpt from Answercast #49, I look at a problem with a recovery partition. Either leave it alone or backup it up and delete it.

Full recovery drive

In general, my recommendation is to almost always leave the recovery drive alone completely.

Or back it up and then remove the partition from your machine.

It's for recovery only

Now, I don't know that I would assume that the "90% full indication" means that you've been copying things there.

  • Realize that the recovery drive was never intended for things to be written to it.

  • The recovery drive exists only as a place from which recovery software would recover a clean version of the operating system and all of the utilities that were installed on the machine when you got it.

Typically, it comes 90% full. So I wouldn't assume that it's full because of anything that you did.

Check the drive

The best way to view what's in it?

Well, gosh, if you can see that it's 90% full, then clearly it's visible on your machine. Fire up Windows Explorer and go poke around in it; have a look in it.

I'm assuming; I'm guessing; in fact, I'm pretty certain that you will find that there is nothing on that drive that you did. Like I said, Windows Explorer should be able to just navigate into it.

  • Double-click on the D drive if that's what the letter assigned to it is.

  • If it's not visible, then I'd have to know where you're getting this warning from.

A hidden partition

Many times the recovery drive is, in fact, a hidden partition on your system. But in that case, then it would be hidden.

In other words:

  • Not only would you not see that it's 90% full;

  • But you also wouldn't have had the opportunity to transfer things into it in the first place.

So I'm a little confused by some of the missing details in the question here. But by and large, there's nothing you need to do to your recovery drive. You don't need to make more room in it.

Backup and delete

In fact, the thing I almost always do when I set up a new machine that comes with a recovery drive pre-installed is:

  • I will actually take a system image of the entire machine: the base drive and the recovery drive;

  • And then I'll get rid of the recovery partition.

It's just taking up space, which most of the time, if you've got a good backup, you're never really going to need it.

Article C5766 - September 2, 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?

September 4, 2012 9:23 AM

Some HP's and Dells (and probably others) come with recovery software that creates a recovery partition which is updated when you run their backup/recovery program. This is woefully inadequate protection, because the recovery partition is on your primary hard disk, and because it only updates a single backup instance. You should remove this software, and replace it with a real disk-imaging backup program, and back up to a separate physical hard disk. (Norton Ghost, Macrium Reflect, Ease-US Backup, Acronis Tru-Image, etc.)

September 4, 2012 1:41 PM

Norton 360's backup program can be at fault here. If you follow their advice and turn on the backup, but don't provide an external drive as the target, it will look for any drive other than the main OS drive to hold it's backups. The first thing found is the recovery drive.

Secondly, if you turn on system restore for the recovery partition, it can fill up with restore points over time.

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