Saturday, 21 December 2013

Freeing Up Drive C

I don’t throw many technical tips out there because I figure I’m not that kind of blogger. However, when I discover a tip that’s just saved me £100, I think it’s worth sharing.

For months, I’ve been struggling to make space on my C drive. It’s a relatively small drive, 75Gb, I think, on account of it being an SSD, meaning it has no moving parts but is very very fast. I use it for my Windows install and a few applications I use regularly. When I set up this PC, I spent a lot of time redirecting most things such as ‘My Documents’ and memory swap files to other bigger drives. Despite this, my C drive has been getting increasingly full, causing me all manner of headache. I’ve even been thinking of replacing it, which would be a nightmare getting my PC back working as I like it. A new install is always a big event, at least a week of work and they usually mean that I lose some files I’ll never get back. Of course, the answer is: backup your work, David. Well, rich folk might be able to afford terabytes of backup drives but if I could afford backup drives, I wouldn’t be scrubbing around for space on my drive C.

Anyway, looking to solve this problem, I found a neat bit of free software called WinDirStat. I ran it on my troublesome drive and it produced the following graphic. It surprised the hell out of me, especially that big red block. That’s one file taking up over 12Gb of disc space.


A glance at the list of files at the top told me it that it was a file called hiberfil.sys, which I immediately suspected had something to do with Windows hibernation, which I never use. I have 16Gb in this machine so a snapshot of my memory at any one time would probably amount to a 12Gb file.

Anyway, a quick Google search told me that I could delete the file and easier than I thought.

Find your Command Prompt in the Accessories menu. Select it with a right mouse click and choose 'Open as Administrator’. Then type the following at the prompt.

powercfg -h off

And just like that, the file disappeared and I now have a glorious 12Gb free on my drive.

For months I’ve been working with a few hundred megabytes of free space so today feels like my birthday. 12Gb! I feel almost dizzy with excitement.


  1. Windows is a space whore. How can it still soak up 60GB?

    I suggest you build a Clonezilla boot disk and back the bugger up weekly/monthly along with your /home (or whatever it is in Windows).

    You'll sleep better, trust me.

  2. I know and I agree but Windows 7 is the best OS I've ever used (Windows 8 the absolute worst), I never found much love for Linux and I never regretted moving away from OSX when my Mac got overloaded. The only real problem is that this machine has about 4+ terrabytes of storage and no room for backup. Wish I had the resources to back this stuff up but it's just impossible. I try to duplicate the really important stuff across multiple drives but, for the moment, it's all a bit of mess. My next investment will be for more storage and then perhaps I'll be able to sort it all out.

  3. I use CD/DVD for backups, and an external hard drive, and really important stuff is on SD cards and USB sticks too. I once lost months of statistical analysis when a hard drive died so I'm a bit on the paranoid side about backups. There are multiple copies of everything.

    If you use Outlook for email, that thing is a filesystem nightmare. Delete Emails and it leaves the gaps in the folder file while adding new ones to the end. You have to 'compact folders' to get it to free the gaps.

    Windows is also a lousy hard disk manager, regular use of the defragmenter is a requirement, not an option. I don't do that often enough so when I do, it runs overnight.

    I still have XP because I can't be bothered upgrading. When it becomes unavoidable, it might well be Linux next. I have a little computer that runs Linux and it seems to do everything I want to do. Linux has the advantage of being free, my favourite price.

  4. I back things up to a networked HD but important things I store in Dropbox and USB pens. I used to love XP until I moved to Windows 7. Never thought I'd be a Microsoft fan but 7 really is the best OS I've ever used. You really should try it. Linux has a great price but it just doesn't have what I need to do the things I want to do. I'm a huge geek so I could happily get lost in Linux but, really, I try to put my geek away because it can easily consume my life. I'm a happier (and nicer person) when I'm writing and drawing. The geek part of me is very antisocial and going with Linux would be like feeding him hard drugs.