Solved: Missing Hard Drive Space in Windows Server 2008

Tonight, I uninstalled Exchange Server 2007 from a development server and was surprised to see that, after the uninstall was complete (and not without a few workarounds), only 50GB of an 80GB hard drive remained. Explorer showed 25GB free, but only 25GB had been used. Where was the remaining 30GB? Poking around the net didn’t help — most of other people’s issues revolved around System Restore and Volume Shadowing but I had disabled all of that.

Ultimately, I used a free tool called windirstat not only to find the missing space, but to delete the offending files as well. As I suspected, there were some super hidden files @ C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server that took up nearly 30GB. I tried deleting them in Explorer (which showed me that the Exchange folder was 0kb in size) which resulted in FAIL. Windirstat, however, allowed me to right click and quickly delete the multitude of large log files.

Exchange was my issue, but your server may have another — some people mentioned anti-viruses causing issues. In any case, using windirstat will shed some light on where to find missing drive space.

Phewf! Now to install SQL Server 2008 R2 on that server…

Chrissy is a PowerShell MVP who has worked in IT for nearly 20 years, and currently serves as a Sr. Database Engineer in Belgium. Always an avid scripter, she attended the Monad session at Microsoft’s Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles back in 2005 and has worked and played with PowerShell ever since. Chrissy is currently pursuing an MS in Systems Engineering at Regis University and helps maintain RealCajunRecipes.com in her spare time. She holds a number of certifications, including those relating to SQL Server, SuSE Linux, SharePoint and network security. She recently became co-lead of the SQL PASS PowerShell Virtual Chapter. You can follow her on Twitter at @cl.

Posted in Exchange, Windows
9 comments on “Solved: Missing Hard Drive Space in Windows Server 2008
  1. Andy says:

    That's weird, because the last time I had a similar problem, it was windirstat that wasn't giving me the correct information.

    • Chrissy says:

      Interesting… what did you end up using to solve the problem?

      • Andy says:

        well we realised that windirstat wasn’t giving the right information as it thought the drive had plenty of space when it obviously didn’t. Thinking about the causes, we noticed that there was nothing showing for the volume shadow copy files. Reducing the amount of space used for VSS gave us the disk space required and we didn’t do much more. I did email the windirstat guys and they said it was a known problem but didn’t have the resources to develop further.
        I think that running windirstat as admin *might* have given me the correct information but i’m pretty sure that is what I was doing (although i’m not 100% positive)

  2. Insanemal says:

    Flat deleting Exchange Logs is like insanely bad. It's as bad as deleting SQL logs Willy-nilly. I mean as much fun as loosing email and corrupting your JET database is, I try to avoid it as much as possible.

    Just use NTBACKUP to do an online backup of your exchange store. It will reduce your logs for you.

    TL;DR

    DON'T DELETE EXCHANGE LOGS. FAIL CAN ENSUE.

    • Chrissy says:

      Thanks for the tip about the online backup of the Exchange store, Insanemal.

      As for deleting the logs, I'd never do that on a production machine. It was a development Exchange server and only 2 mailboxes were on it. I didn't have to worry about corrupting anything as the server was no longer needed.

      • Insanemal says:

        Yeah, I came off a little half cocked there. I went back and had a look and realised it was after you uninstalled exchange. Sorry about that.
        Thanks for being a champ and taking my insanity in your stride.

  3. Richard says:

    Thank you! Had 11.6GB of space ‘missing’ on my W2K8 server with Apache installed. Turned out to be Apache log files. windirstat found them when other programs couldn’t. :)
    Time to sort out my Apache logging rotation!

  4. alex says:

    I have 6GB of unknown space in Win 2008r2 standard edition. Help me to get remove the unknown space.

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