Windows XP Does Not Recognize All Available Disk Space

February 16, 2009

Windows XP may not recognize all of your available disk space. For
example, you may have a hard disk with a capacity of more than 30
gigabytes (GB), but according to the Disk Management utility or Windows
Explorer, you have only 2 GB of disk space capacity.

As a result, even though you have ample hard disk space, you may receive the following error message:

Low Disk Space.
You are running out of disk space on <Drive Letter>.

To resolve this issue, use the following methods as appropriate. To
best determine the method(s) appropriate for your situation, please
read through the entire article before you proceed.

WARNING:
The following methods may require that you reinstall Windows XP.
Microsoft recommends that you back up all important data before you use
the following methods.

Method 1: Run Windows XP Setup to Determine Whether the Hard Disk Space Is Accessible

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To determine whether all of the hard disk space is accessible, run Setup from the Windows XP installation media.

  1. Insert the Windows XP installation CD into the CR-ROM drive,
    and then restart the computer. When you are prompted to start from the
    CD, press any key.

    NOTE: You may need to configure your BIOS to boot from the CD-ROM first, in order to do this step.

  2. Press ENTER when the Windows XP Setup screen appears.
  3. Press F8 to accept the End User License Agreement (EULA).
  4. When
    the Windows XP Setup screen appears with a list of current Windows XP
    installations on the computer, press ESC to continue installing a fresh
    copy of Windows XP without repairing.
  5. The Windows XP Setup
    screen appears with partition information. Note the partitions and
    unpartitioned space listed. Determine whether all of your available
    space is listed, and then do either of the following:

    1. If
      you determine that not all of your hard disk space is listed, then you
      may have a BIOS problem that is preventing the computer from
      recognizing your hard disk correctly. If this is true, continue with
      Method 2.

      -or-

    2. If you determine that all of your hard disk space is listed, you can continue with either of the following options:
      • Select the existing Windows XP partition, and then press D to delete the partition.

        NOTE:
        If you do this, all data on the partition will be lost. Only use this
        option if you are sure that you want to completely remove the partition
        in order to create a new partition by merging all of the available
        space.

      • Select the unpartitioned space, and then press C to create a new partition.NOTE:
        You can use this option without first deleting the existing Windows XP
        partition. Use this option if you do not want to lose the data in the
        existing partition, and you want to install a second copy of Windows XP
        in the unpartitioned space.

        NOTE: You cannot create a
        volume larger than 32 GB in size by using the FAT32 file system in
        Windows XP. The Windows 2000 FastFAT driver can mount and support
        volumes larger than 32 GB that use the FAT32 file system (subject to
        the other limits), but you cannot create one by using the Format tool.
        This behavior is by design. (See Method 3 in this article for more
        information about this issue.)

Method 2: Update the System BIOS or Use a Boot Manager

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If the previous method determines that you have a BIOS problem that is
preventing the computer from recognizing your hard disk correctly, do
either of the following:

  • Update the system BIOS. Contact the manufacturer of your motherboard or your computer for more information on how to do this.
  • Use
    a third-party boot manager to access the extra space on your hard disk.
    Many hard disk manufacturers provide utilities to do this. Contact the
    manufacturer of your hard disk for more information about how to do
    this.For information about how to contact manufacturer of your
    hardware,

Method 3: Use Fdisk or a Third-Party Partitioning Utility

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If you need to format a FAT32 volume greater than 32 GB, you can use a
third-party partitioning utility to increase the size of the current
Windows XP installation partition, or use the Fdisk utility on a
Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition (Me) Startup disk or a Microsoft
Windows 98 Startup disk to reformat the hard disk entirely.

How to Use Fdisk and Format to Partition/Repartition a Hard Disk

Once you have created the partitions that you want, continue to
reinstall Windows XP by using the Setup program on the Windows XP
installation media.

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