July 31, 2010

The Case of the Disappearing Disk Space

For the past 2 months or so, my old 2004 desktop running Windows XP has mysteriously been losing disk space nearly every day -- between 100 MB to 500 MB a day. (I currently have less than 10 GB free.) I get Windows Updates automatically, have Norton Internet Security 2010, Webroot Antivirus with Spy Sweeper, and Prevx. While I've invested in a new Windows 7 laptop and transferred all my important files and apps over, I still would like to use my desktop, but the dwindling free space has me concerned that someone is hijacking my computer for filesharing or some other nefarious purpose. I never visit filesharing sites myself and am super-careful about email and surfing. There seems to be disk activity even when I'm not doing much myself. And just to make life interesting, Windows Updates tells me there are 16 Security Updates for Microsoft Office 2003 that I cannot install.

Anyone have suggestions about how to discover where the new files are going or what is causing the disappearing space? I've tried a Windows file search for files created in the last month, but haven't found what I wanted. Anyone have experience with System Mechanic or WinCleaner?

I'm leery about using any of the free/shareware disk space cleaners. I've googled for disappearing disk space and many of the hits are flagged by NIS as suspicious or are just plain old. A year ago I purchased a so-called registry fixer called Registry Easy which resulted in more problems. Recent NIS flagged this as SecurityRisk.ADH and removed it, but who knows what damage it did.

Oh -- one more thing. The past few days, with the latest Firefox, I'm getting "The URL is not valid and cannot be loaded" popup error message at seemingly random page loads (although often on Amazon).

Is it time to ship my desktop to the nearest landfill? Man, I hate this kind of stuff! I'll buy a drink for anyone local who provides a solution or for you remote folks, I'll buy you something from Amazon or iTunes.

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