A partition of my hard drive says "18.4 GB free of 18.5 GB" but when I click on the drive, it's empty. There is nothing there. Why is it?

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  • 2 months ago
    Favorite Answer

    Yes that's right - 0.1Gb is taken up for specialist hidden files and file allocation tables.

    In Windows it tends to hide hidden or system files that are located on the drive - there are a few ways to see these though.

    If you change the settings in explorer there is an option hide system/hidden files - untick that box and you'll see those files - you most certainly will have one called something like RECYCLER or something which is the recycle bin - you may have not deleted anything yet but it still creates the folder automatically for when you do - and this folder takes up a tiny amount of space.

    Then you might also see a file in there called desktop.ini - again this is a system/hidden file - it contains all the settings so when explorer opens up the drive it knows how to display the drive folder (like what size to use, which files to show, etc).

    There are also a few other files there that Windows hides too - these can't usually be seen even by asking Windows to show hidden/system files as these are really special files. You can still see them if you go to a command line (type CMD into the start menu search box and press enter - or press left windows key + R and type cmd into that and press enter) and then type "DIR /AS /AH <drive letter>:\" and press return (replace <drive letter> with the drive you want to see - this letter should be at the top of the explorer window in the address bar.   So if you want to see D drive you'd type "DIR /AS /AH D:\" you will then see additional folders that explorer won't show - including "System Volume Information" which is a system hidden folder that Windows creates on each drive and if you go into that folder you'll find a few extra files in there too - these are vital system files - do not delete them, do not edit them, do not do anything with them at all - even if Windows will let you - chances are Windows would block you anyway.

    You can also see these files if you boot off a Linux disc, like Puppy Linux, Linux will show you the hidden system files that Windows keeps under wraps - but remember also very important - Linux is a lot more hardcore than Windows - Linux WILL let you edit or delete them files - DO NOT under any circumstances edit them or delete them.Also btw if your also wondering why it seems quite big - 0.1Gb when the files themselves are only about a couple of kb in size - that's just the way Windows does it - they might only be taking 200kb on the drive but Windows rounds it up to the closest 0.1Gb when showing sizes in Gb.As well as that you also have the GiB/GB conversion to consider too which makes drives that bit smaller too - I presume your 18GiB drive is actually labelled as a 20Gb drive - the slight difference in size there before you ask again is to do with the GiB/Gb effect - computers work to a base of 2 (binary) where as humans work to a base of 10 (decimal) - Bi being Latin for 2 and Dec being Latin for 10. With a base of 2 when you add an extra number the amount of possibilities goes up by 2 to the power of x (x being the number of bits), in effect it doubles - so binary - of 1-bit has 2 states 1 or 0 (2^1), binary of 2-bits has 4 states (2^2) 00,01,10,11 and 3-bits has 8 states (double of 4 or 2^3) and so on, whereas in decimal each extra number has 10 states so it goes up by 10 to the power of x (x being the number of decs) - so 1-dec = 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 (10 states - 10^1) 2-dec = 100 states (10 to power of 2), and 3-dec = 1,000 states (10 to the power of 3).  The problem is when you get to 1000 - in Binary 1000 doesn't match up with 3-dec it's actually in the middle of a 10-bit number - 1024 is the closest whole number in binary which is 11-bits.  So when they make hard drives they label them in Gb sizes which go up in decimal however the actual size is in binary which is all down as 1024 bytes = 1KiB, 1024 KiBs = 1MiB, and 1024MiBs = 1GiB and so, therefore, an 18.7GiB drive would be labelled as 20Gb due to the binary difference.

    • jj
      Lv 5
      2 months agoReport

      Hard drive/SSD capacities are not measured in GiB. Memory is. 
      What you totally ignored is sector and cluster size. The larger the drive, the larger each sector is. So saving a file to a drive always takes a minimum amount of space.  

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  • 2 months ago

    Its for formatting mostly. if you buy a 16GB flashdrive you never get a full 16GB , there's always room to re-format the drive

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  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    There are hidden partitions reserved for system. 

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  • 2 months ago

    The files that are there are most likely hidden system files.

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  • Laur_F
    Lv 4
    2 months ago

    The difference in capacity is because the drive is not really empty, it only has no user data, but it still needs critical files to reside on it in order to function, they are just hidden from the normal user.

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  • Bill
    Lv 6
    2 months ago

    becasue there is nothing recorded on the hard drive

    the .1 bit is what is used for the hard drive to store stuff

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  • keerok
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    Hidden files? .

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  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    Because some person that had no idea what they were doing erased your recovery partition. Or it could be a hybrid hard drive which is part solid state and part physical hard drive and somebody has not configured the solid state part of the hard drive as a readyboost drive and it's sitting there doing nothing you need to verify what kind of hard drive you have and if the 18 gig partition is physical hard drive and it's empty that's because somebody deleted the recovery partition and you need to make a new one by going to control panel and making a system image and placing it in that partition you may have to go into disk Management and delete the partition and recreate it large enough to hold a system image

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  • Rayal
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    There is always some space used for the file system that is on your HD.

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  • Speed
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    The mere existence of a file that can be read or written to uses a small amount of its total space. You have most of it available and I wouldn't worry about it.

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