Running out of disk space? How’s your logs? – Tales from the Crypto

Running out of disk space? How’s your logs?

I ran out of disk space today.

This is not entirely a new issue for me, because I like to listen to BBC Radio from back home, and my only way to do that is to download the shows overnight so I can listen to them the next day. [I’m not allowed that sort of bandwidth at work]

I start troubleshooting this in the obvious way – where are my largest individual files, and are they useful? Windows Vista’s Search is great for this – you can ask for files over a certain number of bytes:

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Whoa, over a gigabyte in that mysterious file called “setupapi.app.log”? Ah, but it’s in that C:\Windows\inf directory that I really shouldn’t mess with, so I’d better check to see that it’s alright to get rid of the file. Let’s see what the Microsoft Support Knowledge Base has to offer on the subject of huge files created by the Setup API.

http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx/kb/958909 – “It may take a long time to log on to a Windows Vista-based computer that has antivirus software installed” – well, I haven’t really noticed that logons are that slow, and I don’t actually have antivirus software installed. But visiting the article, I see that this is only the first half of the title. The full title is:

It may take a long time to log on to a Windows Vista-based computer that has antivirus software installed, and you may notice that the file size of the Setupapi.app.log file is very large

So, to use a medical metaphor here, the large setupapi.app.log is the internal haemorrhaging caused by some injury or illness, and the slow logon (or in my case, the inability to use my disk space) is the externally visible symptom – the loss of consciousness, the fainting fit, the going-into-shock. Now that we’ve got the diagnosis, let’s see if the KB article has anything useful to say.

“This problem occurs because the verbose logging policy for the Setupapi.app.log file in Windows Vista is set to the most verbose setting (0x20000FFFF).

“…

“To work around this problem, remove or adjust the value of the following registry entry:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Setup\LogLevel

Hmm… my value is set to 0x20000000. What value should it be?

“Type 0x00000020 in the Value data box.”

OK, that’s a little pedantic – instead, how about you click the “Hexadecimal” radio button, and enter “20”:

Image-0245

There is a hotfix mentioned in the article, but I rarely like to apply hotfixes to my machine if I am sure that the workaround will suffice. I may revisit the hotfix if I can’t see this work to reduce my log file size.

So, how did this happen? How did the setting get put to such a bizarre value?

Quite frankly, I don’t know – and as long as the problem goes away, I’ll just put it down to one of the many programs that I’ve installed or uninstalled. Judging from the fact that this log seems to have been in detail mode ever since November 2007, it’s likely that this setting was chosen (either by me or Microsoft) to gauge how successful the new install of Vista was going.

I now have a gigabyte of my file-space left, and I can go and download “Crisp and Even, Brightly”, one of my favourite Christmas shows from Radio 4. I only wish I could get the TV, because there are some excellent BBC shows that never make it across to this side of the Atlantic – and I just can’t wait for Doctor Who Season 4 – the next Doctor (or is he?), Cybermen, and a Victorian Christmas.

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