Waking up my computer this morning, I was surprised that my email software had problems overnight downloading my email. It complained the disk was full. Odd, because the hard drive is a 1TB drive.
I emptied the Recycle Bin, moved some movie files to another drive, and uninstalled some software, but this freed up a mere 15GB. I needed to pinpoint what what causing the drive to fill up. I found Folder Size by MindGems, downloaded it, installed it, and started it up. The software shows you the largest folders, and then lets me quickly drill down to find the largest subfolders.
Looking at the results, I found a very large folder named "Screen Captures." It held 105GB of files, 11% of the hard drive's capacity. Examining further, I determined it was created by Picasa. Now this was strange, because I don't use Picasa for screen grabs, nor did I know it even had the function.
Checking online, I found out from LifeHacker that whenever I take a screen grab while Picasa is running, Picasa unhelpfully keeps a copy in the C:\Users\<username>\Pictures\Picasa\Screen Captures folder. (You can also get to the folder through Libraries | Pictures | My Pictures | Picasa | Screen Captures.) As a technical writer, I take hundreds of screen grabs (using WinSnap) and so this folder held 18,415 files, starting in April 2009.
Worse, Picasa saves the screen grabs in BMP format, meaning they are uncompressed, meaning each file takes up the most amount of space it can -- rather than in a compressed format. Most files are 6MB.
Worse, Picasa creepily determines which app was being screen-grabbed, and so labels the filename, such as Print Configuration Manager 3162013 64432 PM.bmp and ÖBB travel portal Fare - Opera 3162013 51431 PM.bmp.
Worse, I took a single screen grab with WinSnap and watched the folder as Picasa made copy after copy. Within seconds, there were two dozen files in the folder of one screen grab. No wonder the hard drive filled up! Quickly, I exited Picasa, and erased the newly added files. Clearly, there is a serious bug in a seriously bad feature.
And then it gets really worse. The really bad news is that there is no way to turn off this unnecessary function in Picasa. LifeHacker provides two workarounds: make sure Picasa is not running when doing screen grabs, or change the folder so that Picasa cannot save files to it. Here are the steps, which I updated for Windows 7:
1. Right-click the folder name, and then choose Properties.
2. Select the Security tab.
3. Click Advanced.
4. Click Change Permissions.
5. Uncheck the "Include inheritable permissions from this objects parent" option.
6. Windows asks if you are sure. Click Remove.
7. Exit the dialog boxes by clicking OK.
After doing these steps, I checked the folder as I took a screengrab with Picasa running. No files appeared.
I was in a mad dash yesterday to finish updating an ebook, taking screen grabs like crazy, working from 9am through to 8pm. I am only glad that the full disk problem occurred after I completed the project, and not during it.
Google is evil, after all.
Thank you MindGems for helping me find the problem quickly.