Mac Desktops forum

General discussion

mysterious hard drive fill-up

by droliff / October 5, 2010 11:29 AM PDT

Hi all,

I'm not sure this is the correct category for this question but here goes:

While doing some work on the mac pro a warning message popped up saying that my startup drive ( Macintosh HD ) was nearly full. I never save anything to this drive so I was a bit confused.
Upon looking at the size of each folder on the drive, I found that the total added up to about 42 GB. The capacity of this drive is 320 GB yet the info panel for the drive is saying that 318.87 GB have been used. Take a look at the link to screenshot jpeg (I've not used this forum before and neither html nor UBB code seem to work to embed a jpeg image). Am I missing something obvious?

I've run Disk Warrior on this drive and it repaired 'critical values in the volume information'. Yet the drive remains mysteriously full.



Discussion is locked
You are posting a reply to: mysterious hard drive fill-up
The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to our CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Track this discussion and email me when there are updates

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

You are reporting the following post: mysterious hard drive fill-up
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.
Collapse -
full hard drive
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / October 5, 2010 11:27 PM PDT

Obviously something is filling up your drive.

Not sure how you counted up all the folders on your drive, there are thousands of them and a great many are invisible.

Did you only count the ones in your Home folder?

You save nothing to that drive? No iPhoto, iTunes, iMovie, documents?


Collapse -
I recommend you use a utility
by sturner--2008 / October 6, 2010 7:36 AM PDT

to search for the culprit. The utility I have used is What Size. You can find it here:

It is worth the cost. You can sort by size and look into each and every folder and identify where the large files are.

Collapse -
Uninstall Google desktop
by Sugith1 / October 8, 2010 10:31 AM PDT

This happened to both my iMac G5 and my MacBook Pro, which is why I realized it couldn't be something I saved.

I wasted a lot of time using various disk utilities to track what was going on. The trouble is, none of the utilities I used could specify the source of the file, just the type of the file.

Finally I stumbled upon the logs that Google Desktop makes. There were 80 gigs of log files on my iMac.

If you have Google Desktop installed on your Mac, get rid of it, though you will need to follow the instructions since the app doesn't appear in Applications. (Which is why I didn't find it at first.)

Collapse -
utility scan
by loliko / October 8, 2010 2:56 PM PDT

Like drolift said, I would used an utility to track down file sizes too. I used DiskWave and it's free. Give it a try and see if that works.

Collapse -
Check the hibernation
by GENE8 / October 11, 2010 3:02 AM PDT

It's possible that your hibernation file (the file that preserves space for hibernation) might be taking up too much space on your drive. Try turning off hibernation to see if you are able to retrieve most of the free space that you should be having on the drive.

Collapse -
by fox3 / October 11, 2010 5:32 AM PDT
In reply to: Check the hibernation

Do you have time machine installed?

Collapse -
by GENE8 / October 11, 2010 8:00 AM PDT
In reply to: time

I'm not a Mac user, so I don't use time machine. But it might be the combination of your OS size, your hibernation file size, and the size of your system backup file that is taking up a lot of space on your drive. Especially if they are all sharing the same partition.

Collapse -
by GENE8 / October 11, 2010 8:06 AM PDT
In reply to: time

Sorry,the technical advice I gave in the reply to you was meant for droliff.

Collapse -
Startup disk almost full error
by rstgeorg / March 22, 2011 8:51 PM PDT

I am having the same problem, I used MacJanitor to clean out caches in the Library folders I am waiting to see if it worked because the filing up takes time, you could be on the internet or working on a program then when you want to check your email,boom no emaail in the inbox,umm what is going on,? I ran disk Utilities and repaired permissions no help, I tried zapping the Pram-Be careful here you must either have your sysem cd or know your admin's name and password. It actually put me back in 10.2.4 Yuch! Still trying to find out what is eating up my drives space, recently backed up and moved 2 gb worth of files only to see the free space slowly vanish. Any Ideas?

Collapse -
Zapping the "Pram-Be", which is probably the PRAM
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / March 22, 2011 10:03 PM PDT

does not need the system CD or the admins name and password.

Are you sure you did not reinstall the OS which would have put you back to 10.2.4 if that is what the system disk contained.

Given that you did not provide and details as to the model of your Mac or the version of OS X that you were running before this, we cannot really help a lot.

To zap the PRAM you hold down the Command + Option + P + R keys at startup, wait for the second chime, (Some prefer the third) and then let go of the keys.
No username, no password and no system disk required.

Now, tell us exactly what you did.


Collapse -
RE: Zapping Pram-Be
by rstgeorg / March 23, 2011 12:45 AM PDT

Sorry about the lack of info, it's a G4 running osx 10.3.9 1.25 gb ram multiple HD's but startup drive is 27 gb of 55gb which I am running Classic on the other partition. I did a Cmd+ opt+P+r next thing I know wham I am back in 2003 running 10.2.4, weird couldn't do anything because I had no rights. Rebooted with 10.3.9 CD and reset password,changed clock and wham back in 2011 after next reboot. I believe something is caching large file or files on my startup drive. I am going to check out the disk utilities and if I can find the culprit I will write back asap.

Collapse -
Disk fill error
by HACKAMUH / December 7, 2011 9:37 AM PST

i had the same problem, i ran whatsize and found that my mail file was 160GB..... -__- i deleted all my emails and now everything seems to be working fine, also reset your mail password, it is very possible a spammer go a hold of it and is doing this

Popular Forums
Computer Newbies 10,686 discussions
Computer Help 54,365 discussions
Laptops 21,181 discussions
Networking & Wireless 16,313 discussions
Phones 17,137 discussions
Security 31,287 discussions
TVs & Home Theaters 22,101 discussions
Windows 7 8,164 discussions
Windows 10 2,657 discussions


Your favorite shows are back!

Don’t miss your dramas, sitcoms and reality shows. Find out when and where they’re airing!