While Microsoft Vista has been getting some bad press, on the whole, I’ve been pretty satisfied with it, and would not want to return to Windows XP. True, in the early days, the shortage of proper Vista software drivers from third party hardware manufacturers was a real issue, and I suffered from that as well. But now, those problems are mostly behind me(*), and my Vista systems have been humming along nicely. Until, that is, a couple of weeks ago.
I began to notice that free disc space on the main drive on one of the systems was vanishing at an alarming rate, and I could see no reason for it. Gigabytes were disappearing daily. I ran the Disk Cleanup utility, but, as expected, that reported it could only recover a couple of gigabytes from the disc space allocated to my files. I began to wonder if the disc was beginning to fail, so I ran the low-level error check on the disc. This also revealed nothing untoward. Meanwhile, the relentless tumble in the amount of free space continued.
Finally, I stumbled across the additional option in Disk Cleanup to delete Shadow Copies and Restore Points. Now, my versions of Vista (Home Premium) do not have the Shadow Copy feature, but they do use Restore Points. Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained, thought I and selected the additional option as I tried the Disk Cleanup utility again. This time, I got over 100 Gigabytes of free disc space back…
So, that was the cure, but what was the disease? Why would Vista’s Restore Points be taking up so much space? After further googling, I came across this excellent article: How To Reduce Disk Space Used By Windows Vista System Restore. It turns out that, by default, Vista should be set to use up to 15% of a drive to store Restore Points, but on my system, it was set to "Unbounded" – in other words, Vista was free to keep on grabbing disc space for Restore Points. I used the vssadmin command as described in the article to change from no limit to a reasonable 30GB (on a 400 GB drive). Something had occurred in the past few weeks to set that parameter on the Shadow Copy Service of Vista to "Unbounded" – I still don’t know what it was, but at least I have got it back on track.
Aren’t computers fun?
* It took over a year for Creative Technology to release proper Vista drivers for my EMU 1820m audio hardware. And I gave up waiting for Creative Technology to sort out the problems with the Vista drivers for the Audigy range of soundcards. I finally ripped the Audigy card out of my PC in disgust and replaced it with a soundcard from Terratec, which came with working Vista drivers. I’m still not completely out of the woods though. Steinberg, the company that many musicians love to hate, announced, to an angry chorus of frustrated users, that it would not be releasing 64 bit Vista/XP drivers for its Midex 8 interface. So that means I have to stick with the 32 bit version of Vista, where I can use the old XP driver for the Midex 8.