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Sudden jumps in reported free space

How would you categorize my issue

Poll closed Jul 26, 2006.
  1. Benign

    0 vote(s)
  2. Non-benign

    0 vote(s)
  1. Jul 12, 2006 #1
    I was alerted to low free space. It was 199MB on my C drive. I did the "disk cleanup" and nothing revealed anything more than about 400KB. That's K and not M. None of my browsers use C for cache and I don't keep a recycle bin on drive C.

    So I searched drive C for anything modified today. Didn't get anything obviously unusual except one file called tvDebug.txt which seems to be continuously updated (whether or not my internet connection is physically plugged in or not) under a folder called "Internet logs." It is about 22MB. Seemed rather large for a log file.

    Tried viewing it but it was in use by another program (even when all programs that could be were shut down). Finally got it open in Word and got nothing but ASCII gibberish; again it didn't seem like any type of log or debug file. I glanced at it and noticed that the same block of characters seem to be repeated over and over, at least through the first 200 pages of it. There may be minor differences in each block, such as a time stamp, but I didn't examine it closely yet.

    After searching on google, it seems like tvDebug is a log used by ZoneAlarm, which I have.

    OK, then suddenly in the background I had "My Computer" running and the free space on C went from 199MB to 391MB. Then I right-clicked on it and got properties. It then said there were 1.61GB of free space. Then I closed properties and in "My Computer" it said 3.35GB free. It has settled on that and not changed since then.

    There could be many things causing this, perhaps the most likely and least threatening being that whatever it is that is estimating my free space is malfunctioning. I have noticed the free space measurement to be inaccurate before or inconsistent with other ways to count free space, but I've never noticed a jump from 199MB to 3.35GB within a minute.

    Hmm...Now it says 5GB free. I think I'll turn my 'puter off for a while.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 12, 2006 #2


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    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    It's possible that Windows is simply changing its virtual memory swap file size, although they are typically not bigger than a few gigabytes.

    - Warren
  4. Jul 12, 2006 #3
    I hadn't considered that.

    There are two reasons I don't think that is what's happening in this case.
    1. I did a search on drive C for all files modified today and sorted by size. The largest one was apparently a log file used by ZoneAlarm, which is about 22MB. Perhaps that search would not have picked up the swap file.

    2. Way back when I did set up my swap file, I'm fairly sure it was not placed on drive C and nearly 100% sure that it is much less than 5GB, which is approximately the difference between when I started looking at the free space and a few minutes later when it was 5GB free.

    I am hoping that whatever is estimating my free space is wrong and not something maliciously deleting files.
  5. Jul 12, 2006 #4
    Another thing to consider is that whenever I open "My Computer," it has not reported anything above 500MB free for at least a year, maybe 2. And it hasn't reported more than 300MB free for a few months.
  6. Jul 12, 2006 #5


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    Staff: Mentor

    run chkdsk to make sure the drive is healthy.
  7. Jul 12, 2006 #6
    I'll try that. Ran it two days ago but obviously this could be a new problem.
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