What is adding spurious data to my hard drive?

Question

Every five days or so, I have 100 MB less avaliable hard drive space.

I delete all temp files and still the decrease continues. I add files daily, but not nearly 100 MB per 5 days.

Exp.:

Gigabytes Date

57.1 Dec 11

57.0 Dec 14

56.9 Dec 18

56.8 Dec 23

56.9 Dec 24 after deleting Sent and Deleted msgs from email.

56.8 Dec 24 again

56.7 Dec 29

56.8 Dec 30, 9:45 a.m.

56.7 Dec 30, 5 p.m.

56.6 Jan. 5

56.7 Jan. 6, 7:20 before accessing Web.

56.6 Jan. 6, 3:30

Answer

This question was answered on January 10, 2003. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

Ok, we know you are not generating data this fast, but something is, right?

Let's track it down.

First do a virus scan on the system I use AVG, which is a free antivirus product available on the net Find it at www.grisoft.com

Download a copy of AdAware from Lavasoft.com or from Tucows.com Run it to see if there are any Spyware programs running on your PC Remove the suggested programs, as many of these utilities can cause problems, aside from potentially watching and reporting every move you make on the Internet.

In fact, before installing any downloadable utilities from the Internet, do a Google search on the files in question Use the name of the program along with the word "Spyware" as your search criteria Where there is Spyware, there will be someone on the Net blowing the whistle on these computerized parasites.

If none of this produces any results, I have to ask if you are running any programs like AOL, or maybe Netzero, but 20 Megabytes of even AOL's junk every day seems way out of line.

I see from your profile, you are using Windows XP Look up the User Manager Set up an account just for surfing the Internet Minimize the account privileges to prevent installs of Software while you use the account Never use Windows XP from the default Administrators account during the normal course of the day, especially when accessing the Internet There have been a flurry of viruses which target such practices, as of late

Time to do a directory search Files on your PC are dated as they are stored or updated Use the "Search" function, which branches from your Start menu Specify files that have been added or changed within the last day or so

Somewhere, you will find 20 megabytes of extra who-knows-what You ought to be able to get some clue as to the origin of all this excess baggage by using the results of your search.

That is, unless some form of rogue software is actually producing this stuff, then hiding it’s misdeeds by changing the file attributes, and is also unrecognizable by your antivirus scan.

If not, advice is to run another virus scan Mcaffee, Sophos and others can run such a scan from an online database without having to reinstall another antivirus program.

In the unlikely event you have not tracked down the cause of your problem by now, download a file comparison utility It will allow you to track changes to files and directories on your system from day to day A number of them can be found at the following URL: http://www.tucows.com/system/filecomp95.html

Happy hunting!

RG

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Author

Posted by Robert of Mesa Community College on January 10, 2003