I'm looking at a friends netbook for him because it completely ran out of hard drive space. The drive is only 7.07GB, but it says it has 0MB free (Windows XP w/ 1GB RAM).
I've deleted files with Disk Cleanup, cleared temporary internet files, emptied the recycle bin, manually went to the <UserName>\Local Settings\Temp and Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5 folders and deleted any remaining files. As soon as I did that it cleared about 250MB but within minutes the popup message from the systray came up warning that hard drive space was low and a minute later another one popped up that said it was full. So I went to msconfig and disabled a bunch of start up junk (nothing out of the ordinary in there), shrunk the size allocated for the recycle bin and went to do the same for the system restore points but he had it turned off anyways. I did turn it on, shrunk the setting to 1% and turned it back off (for now). Lastly, I checked the page file size for the virtual memory and it was already set at 200MB which seemed small enough.
I started thinking virus even though there was nothing out of the ordinary in Task Manager, so I went to safe mode w/networking to do a virus scan but when it booted I checked the HD space and it said there was about 800MB free, and it wasn't shinking by the minute. After the AVG scan found nothing I did a virus scan over the internet with Panda Active Scan and it found nothing. I searched the entire drive, including hidden and system files, for any file with a size greater than 400MB to see if there was some file ballooning up but didn't find any.
So I unistalled a few old programs he didn't need anymore to clear up more space, downloaded and ran CCleaner which cleaned up another small chunk of junk files and defragged it and got it up to 2.3GB free space.
BUT still whenever I boot in normal mode the hard drive reports about 900MB free even though in safe mode it says it's 2.3GB free. Why is this??? I've read all kinds of forums looking for an answer as to why but I can't seem to find any posts with a similar issue.
It doesn't seem to be shrinking anymore, but I'm afraid if I give it back to him that once the HD gets cluttered a little bit it will hit a point to where the hard drive starts filling itself up until it hits 0% free space again.
I think I figured it out. It was 2.9GB in safe mode and 900MB in normal mode because hibernation was enabled, causing a hidden system file to be created which was 2GB in size in normal mode, and in safe mode the file wasn't being created...which would explain why my safe mode file search never found any files over 400MB.
According to what I read elsewhere, the reason the free space was shrinking is because once the hard drive is nearly full then WinXP starts behaving oddly and ends up eating the rest of the free space until it's completely full....can't recall the exact reason, I've read too many articles in the past 3 days