Where Did All My Free Disk Space Go?

harddrive Recently, the above question was posted in a web forum that I frequent. The poster wrote that he previously had several GBs (gigabytes) free on his hard drive, but now he was getting ‘low disk space’ messages from Windows. He wanted to know what had happened to all the free space he had.

This question comes up often, and the culprit in this particular case was a large Windows Memory Dump of 1GB in size. We found it using a free software program called “JDiskReport” a graphical disk space analyzer.

Why did this memory dump file suddenly appear, and is it safe to delete?

A memory dump file is created by Windows when it crashes (BSOD: Blue Screen of Death). It is sort of like an airplane’s black box in that it can tell

one what the PC was doing just before the crash. It would be useful to a support person, but for the average person like you and me, it is of little value, and can be safely deleted.

What you may want to do is to tell Windows to create a small memory dump next time it crashes. the small memory dump is only a few kilobytes (kb)in size. How to do this depends on which version of Windows you have.

For Windows 7 and Vista:

  1. Start, right-click ‘Computer’, then click Properties
  2. Over on the left side of the window, click Advanced system settings
  3. Click Settings (under Startup and Recovery, Advanced tab):

Click to see a larger view

For XP:

  1. Click Start, point to Settings, and then click Control Panel.
  2. Double-click System.
  3. Click the Advanced tab, and then click Settings under Startup and Recovery.
  4. In the Write debugging information list, click Small memory dump (64k).

As you can see in the screen capture above, I also recommend unchecking ‘Automatically Restart’ to avoid a constant cycle of BSODs and restarts. Very annoying.

Hopefully, this article will help you see where your disk space has disappeared to!