I've been having problems with hard drive space for years. For some reason, I couldn't get over the feeling that I had less available space on my hard drive than I could account for. I'd run programs like FolderSizes and after doing some back of the envelope calculations it would seem like I should have gigabytes more free space than what was actually listed as available according to my operating system.

Recently I stumbled on a blog post by Darien Nagle which claimed to answer the question Where's my hard disk space gone? with the recommendation that his readers should try WinDirStat. Seeing nothing to lose I gave it a shot and I definitely came away satisfied. After a quick install, it didn't take long for the application to track down where all those gigabytes of storage I couldn't account for had gone. It seems there was a hidden folder named C:\RECYCLER that was taking up 4 GigaBytes of space.

I thought that was kind of weird so I looked up the folder name and found Microsoft KB 229041 - Files Are Not Deleted From Recycler Folder which listed the following symptoms

When you empty the Recycle Bin in Windows, the files may not be deleted from your hard disk.

NOTE: You cannot view these files using Windows Explorer, My Computer, or the Recycle Bin.

I didn't even have to go through the complicated procedure in the KB article to delete the files, I just deleted them directly from the WinDirStat interface.

My only theory as to how this happened is that some data got orphaned when I upgraded my desktop from Windows XP to Windows 2003 since the user accounts that created them were lost. I guess simply deleting the files from Windows Explorer as I did a few years ago wasn't enough.

Good thing I finally found a solution. I definitely recommend WinDirStat, the visualizations aren't half bad either.

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