Does free space on the hard drive affect performance?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by BadWolf13, Jul 8, 2010.

  1. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2009
    #1
    I know that back in the day, when I used Windows computers, they always said that you should have at least 10% of your hard drive free, and that less could affect the performance of your computer. Is this true for macs?
     
  2. Guest

    spinnerlys

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2008
    Location:
    forlod bygningen
    #2
    Yes. 500MB of free space is worse than 50 or 25GB of free space on a 232GB HDD.
     
  3. Moderator emeritus

    Hellhammer

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #3
    Yes, it is. If it's too full, you'll notice a performance hit, no matter what computer you're using
     
  4. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2008
    #4
    Macs are a BSD descendant, and any UNIX that gets more than 90% full with disk space starts to get unhappy file-system wise, as it has less ability to deal with file fragmentation. So, performance suffers because it has to write a file in multiple places, as opposed to one contiguous item.
     
  5. macrumors G5

    gnasher729

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2005
    #5
    There is some point where lack of free space will affect performance. I wouldn't say the point is at 10%; 10% free on a 500GB hard drive is quite a lot. But if you have only a few GB free you should do something about it.

    There is a completely different effect that will happen with hard drives with _any_ operating system: The tracks on the outside of the hard drive are longer and can contain more data than the tracks on the inside, and therefore reading or writing data on the outside tracks is faster than on the inside tracks. Maximum read speed can be less than half for inside tracks. If you store 250 GB on a 500 GB drive, all the data will be stored on relatively fast tracks; if you squeeze the same data onto a 250 GB drive, both fast tracks on the outside of the drive and slow tracks on the inside of the drive are used.
     
  6. thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2009
    #6
    Thanks guys, that's some good information. One thing I've noticed lately is the DVD Player program crashing, a lot. It always happens when the DVD starts playing. Is the lack of hard drive space a possible cause of that? Or is this totally unconnected?
     
  7. Moderator emeritus

    Hellhammer

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #7
    If the drive is 100% full, then it can't create a swap file which might cause crashes etc. Try another player, VLC for example
     
  8. macrumors 601

    sammich

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2006
    Location:
    Sarcasmville.
    #8
    I don't think 'having a full hard drive therefore having no room for more swap space' causes crashes. Programs are generally blocked from running until they have their request for more memory fulfilled. This would look like a crash because the program doesn't appear to be running.

    If you want to see this affect for yourself, turn off dynamic paging, use up your ram, and then fire up a VM. The VM 'runs' at about a frame a minute.
     

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