Holy balls, man. Every time I say that I’m not going to fix another friend or coworker’s computer, someone comes along with a weird enough problem that it piques my interest and I have to go digging around. Most recently (and actually at this very moment!) I’m working on a Toshiba Satellite A135-S4527. Its some bargain basement econo-laptop that has a 1.73 GHz dual core Intel CPU (T2080) that’s part of a mobile line I don’t recall ever reading about. 1 GB RAM, 110 GB HDD, and and Intel GMA 950 integrated graphics solution with (get this!) 8 – 256 dynamically allocated (read: jacked from the system RAM) video RAM.
So I’d normally not touch this shit without charging at least $40 an hour with a minimum 3 hour commitment (mostly to deter people from wanting me to help them), but my coworker Jordan had a rather interesting problem with it. He called me a few weeks ago saying he was trying to update the software on his Garmin GPS to the latest version, but he got a low disk space error because there wasn’t enough room on his laptop to download the ~100 MB update file.
“What kind of crap-tastic computer does this clown have?” I ask him. He proceeds to tell me some nonsense, so I make him go to the properties page of My Computer and read the specs from there. I groan and have him check the total disk space in My Computer as well, and he’s got 16 MB free out of 110 GB. He swears up and down that he has less than 100 mp3s and his pictures don’t take up more than a gig or two. I ask him how much porn he’s got on there, because in my experience, its always porn. He insists there’s no porn and says he only streams it because its easier than downloading it. OK, fine, I’ll take your word for it. I have him check his installed programs, and there’s not really a lot installed. We run disk cleanup and it frees up less than 30 MBs. What sort of tomfoolery is afoot? He begs me to take a look at it and I agree, because now I’m curious. I feel like Dr. House, except I get paid shit, am not hooked on prescription painkillers of which I seemingly have an unlimited supply, and I don’t get to be a giant, raging asshole to everyone around me. I should get to do at least one of those things, right?
So he gave the laptop to me yesterday, but I didn’t get a chance to look at it today (read: I forgot it in my car and was too lazy to go and get it last night). I fired it up at 1:30 PM tonight and came across the first hurdle. This one is for all of you non-tech savvy people out there: If you give your vastly smarter than you friend or coworker a computer to fix, and your user account is password protected, GIVE YOUR FRIEND THE GODDAMN PASSWORD! That is, unless you want me to return it to you inside of a locked container of some kind. I’ve had to hack Windows passwords before where the client couldn’t remember the password and “only knew it when they typed it on the keyboard” or just plain forgot it and insisted it was something it was not. I can get into your computer no problem, but if you make me do this, I will make you suffer. You will get your computer back, with the problem resolved, but it will be in a locked container. A locked container which has a misplaced key that for the life of me I can’t find. Oh well, that’s OK. I’m sure you’ll figure out how to get to your computer.
I sent a text to Jordan and he replied with the password, which I must say was hilarious. Jordan’s user name is is first name… as is his password. I told him it was the best password ever, and at least he had a sense of humor about it because he told me it was so secure the FBI can’t hack it. I will admit to getting a chuckle out of that.
Five minutes later, and his desktop has finally loaded. FFS. I verify everything we did over the phone and it all checks out. Music and pictures are less than 5 GBs combined, the disk space cleanup tool doesn’t give any additional free space, his installed programs are less than 3 GBs, and he’s got no vast porn collection. So where are all his megahurts?1?!?!?!111one
I’m sure that at least part of the reason this craptop is so slow is that 80% of his RAM was in use right after Windows finished loading the desktop. If that much RAM is being used before I even open anything other than Task Manager to see how much RAM is being used, then you know that its gonna be hitting the pagefile pretty hard. If he’s got negative infinity disk space, then that’s gonna cause this slow hell I’m currently living in.
Better get sleuthing! I check his My Documents, and other than about 71 MBs of incomplete downloads from an old install of Limewire that is no longer there, I find nothing. I trash the incomplete downloads, giving him at least a little extra breathing room and I move on to checking the properties of each folder in the C: drive. There aren’t very many and most of them are 2 GBs or less, except for Program Files (around 3 GBs, like the Add/Remove Programs utility told me) and Windows, which is around 10 GBs. I remove all but his most recent restore point and get no space back, so that’s not it either. At this point, I’m wishing for a utility like the Apps option in my Galaxy Nexus’ system settings. That thing tells me where all my space is going and what’s using it. I think to myself “I can’t be the first person to want such a thing. There’s gotta be something out there like that!”
A quick Google search later, I find WinDirStat. I spend almost 30 minutes downloading it on his laptop because its slower than a dead turtle being dragged backwards up a hill by a drunken snail. My first attempt at downloading the program caused Firefox to crash. Not wanting to wait another 5 minutes for it to start back up, I tried Chrome, which he surprisingly had installed. It took almost 7 minutes to start and then crashed with that whole “encountered an unexpected error” crap. Really now, what errors are expected?
I now grit my teeth and start Internet Explorer, which surprisingly only takes about 3 minutes to start. I go to the site, download the program, spend about 10 minutes installing it and am now waiting for the results. In fact, let me go check on it now…
The Windows folder is using 84.6% of his drive, which works out to be 97.9 GBs. WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK?! YOU LIED TO ME, WINDOWS EXPLORER PROPERTY PAGE! Looks like 74.3 GBs are in the Temp directory. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t disk cleanup supposed to… oh, I don’t know… CLEAN UP TEMPORARY FILES? Apparently, that doesn’t extend to the Windows Temp directory. Probably because those are MAGIC temp files! They’re extra special so you should keep them forever and love them and hug them and squeeze them and call them George.
Excuse me while I nuke that fucking directory.
That’s better. There’s now 74.5 GBs of free space. I don’t know why the properties tab of the Windows directory claimed that it only had around 10 GBs of files. That was clearly a lie. I even made sure that hidden files were shown, even though I know that shouldn’t make a difference when querying folder properties. I just rebooted the computer to make sure nothing exploded from deleting those files and to see if it sped up any and while everything functions normally… well, everything functions normally. Meaning this slow ass trashtop is still monstrously slow.
Whatever, I did my job and reclaimed his disk space. Those evil files are gone now and I can give this back to him tomorrow, clearing my weekend for the rebuilding of my file server… a file server that will be known as…
FRANKENSERVER! Ha ha ha!
Yeah, I’m gonna go bust some skulls in Torchlight 2 and then go to bed.