Q: Following a Windows 10 update, I got a warning that said, “You are running out of disk space on disk (E).” I’ve never had a disk E, but now File Explorer shows it as a drive with a capacity of 449 megabytes, of which only 42 megabytes are available. Yet when I click on drive E, File Explorer shows that it’s empty. What should I do?

Keith Loewen, Shoreview

 

A: The update caused this situation, but it isn’t a big problem.

The update mistakenly reclassified the hard disk space occupied by your recovery files (which can be used to fix Windows 10 if something goes wrong) as a mythical separate disk drive.

In reality, these recovery files occupy a small space (449 megabytes) on your hard drive, or C drive. You weren’t aware of them before because their storage space is partitioned off from the rest of the C drive, and they are designated as “hidden” files that File Explorer doesn’t normally see.

But when the update reclassified the recovery files partition as a separate E drive, the operating system automatically began monitoring the new drive. It found that the drive was nearly full and began sending you warnings. However, the warnings aren’t significant because no additional data will be stored in the recovery partition.

You can get rid of the warnings by eliminating the E drive letter from your PC (doing so won’t affect any data on the hard disk.) Use the following commands:

Click the Start button and in the search field type “cmd” without the quotation marks. When an icon labeled “command prompt” appears, right click it and choose “run as administrator.” When asked whether the app can make changes to your PC, click “yes.”

A black screen with a blinking cursor will appear. Type “diskpart” without the quotation marks and click the enter key. Then type “list volume” without the quote marks and click enter.

Type “select volume E” without the quote marks. Click the enter key. Type “remove letter=E” without the quote marks. Click the enter key. Then close the black window by clicking the X at the top right and restart your PC.

 

Q: The D drive (recovery drive) on my Windows 7 PC is nearly full (only 2 gigabytes of empty storage space left out of about 20 gigabytes.) Meanwhile, the C drive has lots of empty space. Is there a way to safely erase some files from the D drive to free up more storage space?

Marlene Markel, Covington, La.

 

A: Your issue is slightly different from the one above. Your Windows 7 PC didn’t suddenly create a new D drive after an update; it came from the factory that way.

But the answer is similar. Your D drive is really a small area partitioned off from the rest of the C drive and holds only PC recovery files — which you should keep. Because your PC won’t try to store any new data on the D drive, it doesn’t matter that it’s nearly full.

 

Q: My PCs use Windows 8.1 and 10. Where can I get low-cost or free antivirus software?

Trey McNabb, Baton Rouge, La.

 

A: There are many free antivirus programs available (see tinyurl.com/ybn6bqa8 and tinyurl.com/yah8z9pg).

 

E-mail tech questions to steve.j.alexander@gmail.com. Include name, city and telephone number.