[SOLUTION] Hard drive keeps filling up automatically

This is a very specific problem — you have run out of space, so you delete 10GB, 20GB, 100GB, yet the hard drive keeps filling up.

I first used RidNacs (a hard drive space utility) to help me see what directories are taking up all the space on the hard drive. Once you get that installed, choose the drive in question (usually C). In the case of the computer I was working on, it showed 185GB worth of data accounted for, but Windows reported that 270GB of 280GB were used. He then moved 45GB of data off to an external drive and within a few days he only had 25GB available. I noticed upon running RidNacs again that it listed some directories with “Access is denied” next to them. One was “System Volume Information” and one “Documents and Settings”. I struggled with getting ownership of them with the Security tab in Windows, so I found these instructions to do it with a Command Prompt. This stuff is probably going to be for professionals.

a)Go to > Start > All Programs > Accessories.

b)Right-click on Command Prompt, and then click Run as Administrator.

c)To take ownership of a folder, type the following command and press ENTER:

takeown /f <foldername in QUOTATION MARKS if spaces> /r /d y

d)Then to assign the Administrators group Full Control Permissions for the folder, use this syntax:

icacls <foldername in QUOTATION MARKS if spaces> /grant administrators:F /T

The /T parameter is added so that the operation is carried out through all the sub-directories and files within that folder.

(posted by Shinmila H – Microsoft Support)

Here is something that claims to be a simpler way to do this that I didn’t test yet.

Now at this point, I found that System Volume Information had 116GB and Documents and Settings 127GB.

I wanted to see if I could get Windows to reduce that or keep it from growing, so I went to System in the Control Panel, then System Protection and found that the Automatic restore points configuration is disabled by Group Policy. To overcome that, I used these instructions. (I deleted the DisableConfig key, even though it was zero.) Then I went back to the System Protection tab and unchecked the C drive. It warned that it would delete the Restore points (great!). Indeed it did. I then turned it back on and clicked Create to make a fresh restore point. I then checked the hard drive. 140GB FREE!!

I believe that this damage was done by malware and I wasn’t successfully about to fix all the Access is Denied directories, but I think the hard drive filling issue is now fixed.

Please comment below if this helps or you have things to add.

3 replies
  1. brmorris says:

    I received this elsewhere:

    “. I’ve got the same problem one of your clients had – my hard drive keeps filling up by itself. I’ve made RidNacs search C: for information, and just like you said, “Documents and Settings” and “System Volume Information” deny access. However, when I try to use the “takeown” command, it says that “The value y is not allowed for the alternative /d.” (Not literal translation, my computer isn’t english.) You wrote ““, what does that mean? I’ve tried “(Documents_and_Settings), (DocumentsandSettings) and (Documents and Settings). I’ve also tried the alternatives without parenthesises, and the alternatives in brackets (or whatever “< " and ">” are called) It either tells me “Incorrect argument or alternative: and.” (Which I figured out – spaces shouldn’t be used) or “The value y is not allowed for the alternative /d.” (Once again, not literal translation). What am I doing wrong? I’m not great at describing, so here are some full quotes:

    “takeown /f /r /d y to which it responds “Acces denied.” in normal mode. In admin mode it responds “The file can not be found.” (I think this is the problem here.)

    Perhaps less important:

    “takeown /f /r /d y to which it responds “The file can not be found.”
    “takeown /f /r /d y to which it responds “The file can not be found.”
    “takeown /f (Documents_and_Settings) /r /d y” to which it responds “The value y is not allowed for the alternative /d.”
    “takeown /f (DocumentsandSettings) /r /d y” to which it responds “The value y is not allowed for the alternative /d.”
    “takeown /f (Documents and Settings) /r /d y” to which it responds “Incorrect argument or alternative: and.” (Which I understand)
    “takeown /f Documents_and_Settings /r /d y” to which it responds “The value y is not allowed for the alternative /d.”
    “takeown /f DocumentsandSettings /r /d y” to which it responds “The value y is not allowed for the alternative /d.”
    “takeown /f Documents and Settings /r /d y” to which it responds “Incorrect argument or alternative: and.”


  2. brmorris says:


    I can see why you are confused because my instructions weren’t good. I changed “parentheses to quotation marks”. This is pretty complicated stuff, but I’ll give a little bit more info here.

    Here is an example of how I would type it in the command prompt:

    takeown /f “C:\documents and settings” /r /d y

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