Windows Vista and low disk space

One thing I noticed right away when I installed Windows Vista is that it takes up lot of disk space. Sure I installed the Ultimate edition so I wasn’t expecting a very slim install but still it used a lot more disk space than I expected. My setup is a 50 Gb C drive for Windows Vista and program files while leaving a 140 Gb D drive for data. That may seem a lot but as I develop using VMware I use up quite a bit of it with 4 virtual machines. Anyway the practice of using a virtual machine for all software development is something I can recommend!

Anyway back to the disk space usage. When I started I was surprised but everything went well. But the C drive kept on filling up even though I wasn’t installing new software and I kept the temp directory in check. Yesterday the bar the Explorer indicating how full the disk was even turned red so some action was needed. I fired up WinDirStat, a great utility for finding where your disk space went and reported 14Gb as <Unkown>. That is quite a portion of a 50 Gb disk, a whoping 28%, so I decided to focus on that first. It turns out it was in use by Windows Vista System Restore.

How to check? Well you need to start an command prompt with administrator privileges and from there do “vssadmin list shadowstorage” which will tell you how much disk space is in use by System Restore and what the maximum was. Turns out my machine didn’t have a maximum so it just kept on growing; no wonder that I was running low in disk space [:(].

Fixing the problem is also done using vssadmin with the “Resize ShadowStorage” option. I did and now I can keep working just fine again [:)].

More info on vssadmin can be found here although Windows Vista doesn’t seem to understand all listed options.

Enjoy your disk space!

36 thoughts on “Windows Vista and low disk space

  1. Hello and thanks for sharing this info. I supposed you meant run command prompt as Administrator? I did that and typed “vssadmin list shadowstorage” in there. However, according to my actions, the Command promt stated that what I typed is not recognised as an internal, external command and an operable command and batch files. So I guess I didn’t understand your solution. Could you provide more specific details on the solution to this low disk space problem?

    Many thanks

  2. @Raven,

    You are correct and you need to run a command prompt as an administrator. Your command seems ok so I am not sure what the problem is. Maybe the search path or else vssadmin is not installed by default on every Vista installation. I am using Vista Ultimate 64bits and it works with the default path settings.

  3. Thanks for sharing Maurice.
    So now what should I do?
    I’m kind of at my wit’s end.
    Oh by the way, I tried shifting some files from the C drive, under the default folder, “User” and in the end I wasn’t able to do that because most of the things there are admin stuffs I guess.


  4. Hello again. I typed in again and this time it worked. Great!
    So now I’m actually wondering what these shadow terms mean and so..
    whats Shadow Copy storage space?
    whats Shadow copies?

    I need additional help!

  5. The disk spaces is used for backup copies of files that are changed. If you right click a file you will see an option to search for previous versions of the file. These previous versions are stored in the shadow copy storage.

  6. i am having the same problem but when i am using the vssadmin command as administrator it is saying that no items can be found that satisfy the query…..

    any help will be appreciated…


  7. I am having the same problem of low disk space. I have tried to use the vssadmin and resized the shadow storage but still I am having issues with my disk space. Any help Please

  8. i am having the same problem but when i am using the vssadmin list shadowstorage command as administrator it is saying that you dont have the correct permission to run this command.Please run this utility from a command window that has elevated administrator privileges

  9. Right click on the command prompt in the start menu and select “run as administrator”. that will give you an elevated command prompt that will allow you to do admin actions.

  10. WOW!! great tip man big ups to you for that one. That directory tool is something ive needed for ages. I am running Server 2008, it is great BTW, but i was using a program that was not running properly.. the server never shuts down so the error logs had filled up my hardrive to max. it would have taken me a while to find what was killing the space. thanks again!!

  11. please advise on how to enter the command correctly for resizing shadow storage. i am having problems. i have tried a number of ways and keep getting invalid code

  12. I used windirstat to check my hdd and i found 23.8GB as However I check the system restore storage space to be about 15.9GB only. Could anyone advise on where does the remaining 8Gb comes from? Really appreciate it. Thank you

  13. So, I have my Data drive Red, it says i have only 4.9MB of 70.9Gb.. i cant seem to free any space and i dont know how to, which doesnt help,.. low data drive is slowing up some of my programmes, how can i free Data space and get it off being red? and giving me a warning everytime i load up my computer.
    Help, Thanks.

  14. Get more storage on Vista with a command line >>

    The recycle bin in Windows Vista occasionally gets corrupted leading to files being quarantined to C:\$RECYCLE.BIN. Here’s a guide on how to empty this folder using your admin account via the command line. Give it a go! I just freed up 9GB on each of my laptops.

  15. I am having a similar issue, and the vss… did help on my C drive, but my concern is actually with my D drive. I have a split HD, and my D drive basically filled up in a day. I have deleted all the files that were not needed, as the drive is just for music/vids/docs. When i check the shadow storage using the above directions, it doesn’t show my D drive. Can someone please help me on how to get it to show my D drive, or how maybe another way to do the process to change the shadow storage limit on my D drive! If there isn’t a way, then is this another issue???

    Thanks for the helpful thread!

  16. yeah I get the problem and messege for “vssadmin list shadowstorage” –> “no items can be found that satisfy the query”
    and for “vssadmin resize shadowstorage /on=C: /for=C: /maxsize=2GB” –>”the specified volume shadow copy storage association was not found”.
    and the problem still exists .

  17. HI there *!!

    I runned windirstat and it found my C drive with just 27 GB used .. but when it comes to checking it normally it shows about 70 GB used */

    windirstat didn’t show the unknown type of used space ..

    anyone can plZ help …!!

  18. here’s another, and its my first time at this. I am showing low disk space recorvery D. it says to delete files that are unessary. I need some info as what to delete. some help?

  19. I keep showing a Low Disk Space on recovery disk D also. But when you click the option to delete unnecessary files the message indicates there are none.
    Line Jo said on May 6 …Help.

  20. Ok, I am running the command as administrator and using “vssadmin resize shadowstorage/for=C:/on=D: /maxsize=300MB”

    It said 300mb was the minimum I could enter.

    It is still telling me this is an error. The above syntax is exactly as Microsoft says to do it. How in the world can I get this to work!?

  21. I am still having this problem. The command is not being recognized. Can anyone tell me what command to use that will work? (i.e. vssadmin resize shadowstorage/for=C:/on=D: /maxsize=300MB” ). If you know, please type exactly as I should type it.

    thank you,

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