Using Philip

Revision history

bulletMarch 5, 2004: Added notes about using other drives.
bulletAugust 31, 2000: First version.

What is it?

Philip is a program that fills up your hard drive. It was written by Josh Mayfield and is available at Inky’s Linkies.

Why would I want to do that?

There are three reasons.

bulletPhilip was initially designed to work around a problem that sometimes occurs on computers that have very large hard drives. Some setup programs aren’t capable of calculating space requirements on hard drives that have a very large amount of free disk space available, because the numbers that the computer reports are so big that they exceed the setup program’s ability to properly interpret them. You can usually successfully install programs like this when the hard drive has less than 2 to 4 gigabytes (or 2048 to 4096 megabytes) free. You can use Philip to temporarily stuff your hard drive so that you can install that problematic piece of software and then reclaim the space when you’re done.
bulletAnother way that Philip comes in handy is during the development of software. With Philip you can test how a program behaves when running on systems with very limited free disk space.
bulletIf you’re concerned about data security, you should know that when you delete a file and empty your recycle bin in Windows, it’s not truly gone until the sectors where it was stored get overwritten with other data. If you’re preparing to get rid of a computer and you’re worried about future users of it (or your hard drive) being able to retrieve old personal files from it, you can use Philip to ensure that none of your personal data is left over on the drive. To do this, delete all your personal files and empty your recycle bin. Next, run Philip and tell it to leave 0MB free on your drive. Philip will create a giant file of nonsense information that will wipe out all traces of the old files. Finally, delete Philip’s temporary file and reformat your drive. Good as new!

Why not just copy a bunch of files to my drive instead?

bulletSpeed. It can take a long time to copy 4096 MB of files to a hard drive- sometimes hours, depending on the source, number, and size of the files. Philip is optimized for speed and can usually do the trick in just a few minutes.
bulletPrecision. Using the file-copy method makes it tough to achieve an exact amount of free disk space. In Philip, you just enter the number of megabytes you want free and it calculates exactly how large its temporary file needs to be.
bulletSimplicity. Instead of searching for files and looking for an appropriate place to put them, Philip creates a single file in your computer’s temp directory that you can append or delete with a single click.

What’s this do?

When you start Philip, you’ll see something like this. A description of the controls follows:

bulletFree space desired on system drive (MB). Here is where you type how many megabytes you want Philip to leave free. (Philip will fill up the rest.) For example, if you wanted to leave 2 gigabytes free, you’d type 2048 here, since 1 gigabyte is 1024 megabytes in size.

If you’re dealing with a program that won’t work if you have more than 2GB free space, I recommend entering a bit LESS than 2048 megs here, because your free space can be pretty dynamic- if you end up with even one BYTE more than 2 gigabytes, those programs will break. Try something safer like 1536.
bulletRecalculate. Click this to make Philip calculate how big of a temporary file would be required to leave your specified amount of free space on the drive. (Note: When you click Create file Philip automatically recalculates before creating or appending the file.)
bulletFree space currently on system drive (MB). This is how much space Philip detects is free on the drive. In the screenshot shown here, it reports 5246 megabytes free, which is around 5.1 gigabytes.
bulletRequired temporary file size (MB). This shows the number of megabytes the temporary file would have to be to leave your desired amount of free space. Click Recalculate if you change your free space amount.
bulletTemporary file name. This is the path and filename Philip will use for the temporary file it creates. If Philip has never created a temporary file, this field will be left blank; Philip will generate the name when you attempt to create the file.
bulletTemporary file status. This indicates whether or not the temporary file currently exists on your system.
bulletStatus bar. When Philip is not doing anything, this reads Idle. When Philip is creating or appending the file, it says Working and a progress bar indicates how far along the process has gone.
bulletCreate file. If no temporary file is on your system, this button reads Create file, and you click it to generate the file. If the file already exists, the button reads Append file, and when you click it Philip will increase the file’s size until it reaches your desired amount of free space. While Philip is working (either in Create or Append mode) this button reads Cancel and you can click it to stop Philip at any time.
bulletDelete file. Click this to delete the temporary file and reclaim your free disk space.
bulletQuit. Well, just click this when you’re done!

How do I use it?

Creating a temporary file

To create a temporary file in Philip, enter the number of megabytes that you want to have free under Free space desired on system drive and then click Create file. (Note that one gigabyte is 1024 megabytes.) The first time you run Philip, the default value under Free space desired on system drive is 0, meaning it will assume that it will completely fill the drive. The next time you run Philip, it will remember the last target value you entered.

While Philip generates the file, it updates the progress bar and flashes the message “Working…”. You can click Cancel to stop the process at any time.

After the temporary file is created, the Create file changes to read Append file, and the message under Temporary file status reads: File does not exist

Appending the temporary file

If you have already created a temporary file with Philip, you can extend it by entering a new target value and clicking Append file.

Deleting the temporary file

Once a temporary file is created, you can delete it by clicking Delete file. You can also delete the file manually. Its path and file name are listed under Temporary file name.

Estimating the size of a temporary file

You can see how large a temporary file would have to be to reach your target value by entering the value under Free space desired on system drive and clicking Recalculate. Philip will automatically recalculate the size it needs when you click Create file or Append file.

If your temporary file already exists and you alter your target value, the size reported under Required temporary file size will really indicate the additional number of megabytes that Philip will have to append to the file in order to reach the target value- in this case it is not an indication of the temporary file’s current or projected total size.


I just used Philip to fill up my drive, and it seemed to work, but Windows says there’s more free space on my drive than Philip reported.

By default, Windows uses a dynamic paging file for virtual memory. This file can grow and shrink by megabytes at a time depending on the number and type of programs you run during a Windows session. Sometimes Windows optimizes the paging file when disk space gets low to free up more room on your drive.

If this happens to you, run Philip again and click Append file to claim the extra space that Windows freed. Be aware that Windows might shrink the paging file even more after you do this.

A more exact method of obtaining a certain amount of free disk space is to change your computer’s virtual memory settings so it uses a fixed-size file instead of a dynamically-sized one. These instructions are for Windows 98 SE, and should be similar for all Windows 9x derivatives:

  1. On your desktop, right-click My Computer and click Properties.
  2. On the Performance tab, click Virtual Memory.
  3. Under Virtual memory, select Let me specify my own virtual memory settings.
  4. Enter the same number next to Minimum and Maximum. You probably shouldn’t enter anything less than 64MB.
  5. Click OK, then Yes, then Close, then Yes to restart your computer.

Why is Philip necessary if I can just set up a fixed-size paging file?

Because that probably won’t work. Using the steps described earlier, you can indeed create a paging file of a fixed, exact size. However, this only works for relatively small paging files. Windows prevents you from creating a very large one. For example, on a computer that has 2083 megabytes free, specifying a paging file size of 2080 megabytes yields a file that is only 28 megabytes after the computer is restarted. Windows, apparently, believes it knows what you need better than you do.

What if I have more than one hard drive or partition?

Philip was designed to fill up your system drive (the drive or partition where Windows is installed). There is a workaround, though, if you have more than one partition and the one you need to fill up is not your system drive. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Run Philip and exit it at least once. You don’t have to do anything, just run it and click Quit. This will create a file in your Windows folder (usually C:\Windows) called Philip.ini.
  2. Locate Philip.ini in your Windows folder and open it in a text editor, like Notepad. If you have used Philip to create a temporary file before, you will see a TempFileName line like in the following sample file:


  1. If such a line already exists, you might want to run Philip once more and check whether the file still exists (see the Temporary file status line). If it does, click Delete File to get rid of the file now. Otherwise, you should note down the file path listed here so you can manually delete that file later on if you ever need to. If the line doesn’t already exist continue to the next step.
  2. Either create the TempFileName line if it doesn’t exist or edit the existing one so it now specifies a new file on the desired drive. For example, if I wanted to fill up my D: drive, I’d add a line like this:


  1. Note that there can only be one TempFileName entry and it must appear under the [Settings] line in Philip.ini. Save your changes and close the file. Also, any folders you specify in the TempFileName path must exist before you run Philip again. For example, if the path is D:\MyFolder\Philip.tmp, the folder named MyFolder must already exist on drive D:.
  2. The next time you run Philip, the disk space calculations it does will be based on the drive you specified in Philip.ini, and the temporary file it creates will be there, too.