I clean reinstalled my windows7 and only 260GB free of 465GB shown. Originally my hard drive is 500GB. Samsung spin F3. Where have that amount of storage gone? Thank you.
"Where has all my storage gone
Long time passing
Where has all my storage gone
Long time ago..."
Now that I've gotten that out of my system
Second question first. When you buy a hard drive, a "gigabyte" is 10^9 bytes. When you use a hard drive, a "gigabyte" is 2^30 bits. Go figure. Also, some of the space on the drive is simply not available to you - reserved for sector replacement, otherwise just advertising hype. YMMV. If your drive has all of the space allocated to one partition (do you know how to check?), or starts with a hidden 100 MB partition and then has all the rest of the space in one partition, don't worry about it.
Now the hard one: Where is all that space being used? I didn't store that much, why don't I have more available. This is a common question, and answers vary all over the map from easily explained system usage to mis-partitioning to malware to defects.
The most common places where you can lose space in an expected manner are:
The recycle bin. Delete 10 GB of waste files, free up no space on the drive. Solution: empty the recycle bin.
System Restore. A lovely Windows facility that, in theory, lets you fall back to previous states of the OS after an install or update goes bad. On my 74 GB hard drive at work, that eats up 9 GB.
System restore can be seen and adjusted by right-clicking on My Computer, selecting Properties, and then going to the System Restore tab.
Windows update. I'm going out on a limb, here, extrapolating from XP. Whenever I apply a patch in XP, it backs up enough info to back the patch out. In XP, the directories live in directories with names like "C:\WINDOWS\$MSI31Uninstall_KB893803v2$". Probably not your problem; Win7 is new enough not to accumulate too much trash here. Do not delete these until you have read a guide on removing them from the registry.
Swap file and hibernate file, but these will only run 2-3 times the amount of physical memory that you have
If you want to find out with more detail where the space is being used, go to your root directory in Windows Explorer, be sure that you are configured to see hidden and system files, then 1) Find the biggest files in the root directory, 2) right-click on each directory, select Properties, and write down how much space is used under that directory.
Either: Your numbers will add up to the amount of space it says is in use, in which case you just look at the big directories, or they will not add up, in which case you post your results here and someone will help you.
Neb: Go to Options and enable Unknown. I found 6.2 GB of Unknown in my Windows directory. If I had to guess, since I don't see anything else in the correct size range and I don't see my System Restore info, I'm gonna guess that it's part of my System Restore. But enabling Unknown and seeing this huge yellow blob appear was interesting!