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Wasted space with Dell XP laptop?



I just purchased a Dell Inspiron 2650 laptop with XP home installed. My experience with Windows PCs only goes as far as 95, though I've learned my way around XP fairly good so far. However when I go to check how much harddrive space is used up, I find that there is a discrepency of about 2-3 GBs when checking C:/ Properties, and viewing the file sizes of all the files in the C:/ drive.

While this might not be an issue for people with 50 GB harddrives, I only have 18 GBs.

I've turned off system restore, indexing, and shrunk the size of my swap file to about 300 MB, however the space still wont come back.

I'm considering a clean reinstall of XP to get rid of any crappy options that Dell might have installed. Would this be a wise choice?

And one final question. On my XP Home CD that was shipped with my computer, there is no serial number on it, and it doesnt even look like a Windows XP CD. It is just black and white and and says it is from Dell and contains Windows XP Home. Is this a full version of windows, or just a CD containing an image of XP. If I format my HD and do a clean install, will I be able to do a clean install?



Dell generally ships full versions, so yes you should be able to boot to it. But the best way to find out is to try now.


Unfortunately I'm not at my home computer right now, and I'm not sure how the drive is formatted. It is brand new, so I would assume it is NTFS (though I dont know the difference between the two). Each cluster size is 4 KB each I believe if that helps.


Check when you get home. If it's NTFS, 12% of your boot drive is reserved for the ever-expanding Master File Table. This is the area that the OS looks to for information on installed programs and how to find them.

Oh, and I strongly suggest reenabling System Restore. Lower the amount of reserved space if you like, but one day you may need it.


Where is this "Master File Table" kept? What is its file name and how do I know how large it is? Any idea on why this file needs to be so big?

About System Restore, what exactly does it do? The reason why I disabled it is because it wont let me delete any items in the Windows directory that I dont need (such as the screensavers).

How much space should I dedicate to system restore?


Ryan - kicking himself for not throwing in the extra $100 for a larger harddrive


You should never disable something if you don't know what it does. System restore provides a backup of key registry and system settings that you can revert to in the event of trouble.

MFT is not a file as such - it's reserved space. I told you it's 12% of your boot drive. Without it your OS will not be able to find any programs - in other words, you system would be useless. If you don't want it, reformat using FAT32.


ok the solution is Do Nothing.

i say this because i worked at dell doing tech support for notebooks. formating wouldn't give any more drive space. if you did Fdisk, you would gain about 20-30GB, maybe. (space used in factory for loading or something like that)

i did some testing and here is what i discovered.

1. if i right click on the C: drive it shows:

used space: 7,172,710,400 bytes 6.67 GB

2. if i highlight all folders that are in C: and right click, properties. it shows:

Type: All of type File Folder
Location: All in C:\
Size: 5.21 GB (5,599,136,496 bytes)
Size on disk: 5.14 GB (5,528,897,073 bytes)

3. and lastly went to folder properties and made it show all hidden files and folders, then unchecked hide protected operating system files, and it shows me:

Type: Multiple Types
Location: All in C:\
Size: 5.87 GB (6,304,316,478 bytes)
Size on disk: 5.80 GB (6,236,243,505 bytes)

I find that there is a discrepency of about 2-3 GBs when checking C:/ Properties, and viewing the file sizes of all the files in the C:/ drive.
by the way your message reads, i just recreated what your doing to get this discrepency.

i myself only check drive space used by test #1.

system restore has nothing to do with why you can't delete things from the windows directory. that's called system file checker.

i've provided a link for learning about windows xp.

lastly, your product key for windows is on the bottomside of the notebook.
Your CD is probably just a recovery CD with an image of XP on it... you should be able to boot from it but it won't boot into XP setup. Instead it will probably boot into a recovery program.


Damnyank, thanks for the link about system restore. I'll enable it once I'm back home.

Cruiser78, if its just an image, does that mean that if I format my HD one day that I will not be able to reinstall?

I would at least hope that if I pay for the OS when I purchased my laptop that it would be a full version, otherwise what is the point?


your xp cd is for sure a Full XP disc. so yes you will be able to boot to it and it will enter setup just like normal. you don't even know the amount of times i had to walk customers through a repair or reinstall.

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