MacBook Air Harddrive mysteriously full!

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by andmje, Jan 16, 2012.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Jan 16, 2012
    Hello all,

    I have a 13" 120 GB macbook air that have been almost at capacity for a long time although I barely have anything stored on it.

    If I check the different folders of the Harddrive, they sum up to 70 GB including the system folder. This seems to make sense relative to what I have on the computer (I know I have about 10 GB of pictures, 6-7 GB of movies and music, a couple of GBs in applications and about 15 GB in mail).

    However, if I ask for information about the whole "Macintosh HD" is says that it is at 119 GB. Does anyone else have this discrepancy? Or have any ideas about where the "missing capacity" may have gone?

    Many thanks!

  2. macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    For space issues, there are a few things you can try:
    • Begin by restarting your computer as a first step. This sometimes resolves issues.
    • Search with Finder to see if the space is being consumed by a very large file or several large files. Adjust the 50GB in the illustration to whatever size you deem appropriate.
    • For Time Machine users on Lion, Time Machine local snapshots may be consuming space.
    • Use OmniDiskSweeper, JDisk Report or GrandPerspective to see how space is being used on your drive. Some of these apps may show more detail than others, so try several.
  3. macrumors regular

    Jan 6, 2012
    When you go to
    about this mac>more info>storage
    how big does it say "other" is? Maybe it is time machine backing up all of your stuff locally and taking up a lot of memory. You can change the settings or back it up on an external drive. that should free up a lot of your memory if this is the problem. Otherwise, just look at what it says is on there. maybe you missed some things when you were adding it up.
  4. macrumors 6502a


    Jun 24, 2010
    Chicago and Spooner (when it's not 20 below)
    This has been covered in several other threads. The thing that is filling your drive is the local snapshot of the drive that is saved until you backup - which I am assuming you are doing through Time Machine? It's not really something to be concerned with as the system will automatically free up space if you need it for other things.

    I turned off local snapshots through terminal, using the following command.

    sudo tmutil disablelocal

    Again, it's not really an issue that should cause you any problems, but if you're anal like me and don't even want to have the thought that your system is populating your drive space, this will cure it for you.
  5. macrumors member


    Jan 7, 2012
    Great Lakes
  6. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 16, 2012
    still a mystery

    Thanks for all the replies.

    First of all, I do not have Time Machine on. In fact, when I click on "Enter time machine" it says that "no back up disk can be found", so that should not be the problem.

    I also tried the omni sweep and jdisk scanning tools. Both give me a total harddrive of 85-86 GB. Even if the actual capacity of 120 GB may be a bit lower than the 120 GB, there is still definitely 25+ GB missing! Any other suggestions for this?

    Second, among the 85 GB, there seems to be some strange duplication and errors as well:

    1. On the highest level using both programs, I get up a folder called "Volumes" which is 20 GB. Inside this one, the biggest subfolders are applications, library, system and users. When looking into these folders, it seems to be the remainings of an old user profile I have deleted (or thought I had deleted - I cannot access this user profile anymore) and basically a complete duplicate of what I have in other folders (e.g., I find office, all of applications, etc in here as well as in another folder)

    How can I delete the files?

    2. Under library, I find that my gmail folder is 16 GB! However, when logging into my gmail account online, I can see that the total gmail account is 3.3 GB! Does anyone know what the discrepancy can be?

    3. I also have 7 GB stored as "Mobile Sync". I guess this is my iPhone? Does anyone know what this really is? Is it the pictures I have on the phone? If so, should these not also be found in the "Images" folder and hence be another duplicate?

    Thanks again for your input!


    I tried to follow your steps but could not find "storage" after clicking "more info". Is it supposed to be called "storage"?
  7. macrumors G5


    Jul 29, 2011
    Somewhere Back In The Long Ago
    Re- installation of Lion may help. You have no backups, so if you do choose to go down the reinstallation route, back up your critical dat to an external USB hdd first.
  8. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 16, 2012
    But I do not want to reinstall Lion. Any other suggestions??
  9. macrumors G5


    Jul 29, 2011
    Somewhere Back In The Long Ago
    Not that haven't been covered here already....If you have a lot of corrupt or needless files and you are prepared to trawl through finder deleting them, then that's the only other suggestion I have left.

    It's fraught with danger though, and you could end up re-installing anyway.
  10. fullojellybeans, Jan 16, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 16, 2012

    macrumors regular

    Mar 31, 2010
    When you launch mail does it have a recovered mail folder?
  11. macrumors demi-god

    Oct 6, 2009
  12. macrumors 604


    Aug 10, 2010
    Poole, England
    Ok, first of all, before you do anything, do a full back up. I recommend Carbon Copy Cloner - it's free.

    The /Volumes folder is only meant to contain symbolic links to your "volumes". A storage partition is a volume. So for example if you have a hard drive and it has one partition called Macintosh, you can get to in the terminal by typing cd /Volumes/Macintosh

    The fact that you have 20 GB in there is wrong. Other users have reported this issue before and it is a bug in OSX that shows up very rarely.

    Open terminal (cmd+space, type terminal)

    type in the following

    ls -al /Volumes
    Copy and paste the output here so that I can see it.

    Difficult to say with the info that you've supplied

    No. The mobile sync directory is where your iPad / iPhone are backed up to. So it's not only the images, but other info like what apps you have, settings, documents and so forth. The purpose is quite different.

    You can navigate to it via Finder. Hold down alt and click on Go in Finder's menubar. Library will now be available and you can navigate all the way into this directory and check it out. Normally it stores a couple of the last backups. If aren't having any issues with your phone, you can delete the old backups and only keep the new one. Even better, change your settings in iTunes to get your iPhone to back up to iCloud. Once it is complete, delete the backups from your computer.
  13. macrumors newbie

    Dec 8, 2012
    easy fix

    Onyx works for this by using the hidden files feature.Gained 100gigs instantly.
    Discinventory will also work and is funner
  14. macrumors newbie

    Apr 29, 2014
    Not sure if you've solved this problem but...

    I do a lot of tech work on macs and I wanted to give you some helpful suggestions in case you hadn't solved this particular issue.

    First, the files through which you are navigating are only the ones Apple has not hidden from you. There are a myriad of hidden files which may be holding this mysterious amount of unused SSD space. Open terminal and type the following command exactly as written (including the capitals) hit return:

    defaults write AppleShowAllFiles TRUE

    Then type (and return):

    killall Finder

    You should now see shaded files throughout your finder, you'll know you've done the steps correctly if you see .DS_Store and .Localized files on your desktop (this is because all folders contain these items and your desktop is essentially a folder).

    Hold Command+Option and i to view the inspector and scroll through all your folders and check the file sizes (the cmd+optn+i makes it so you do not have to hit command+i on every single folder).

    MY GUESS, is that you likely have a giant sleep image file sitting in your ~/Library/Var folder. My understanding of this file (and users, correct me if I'm wrong) is your machine creates a giant file of everything your mac is doing so that when it goes to sleep it can wake up, and have everything immediately ready to go from the moment it fell asleep. Sometimes the file can get corrupt and begins to build and build upon itself. In this scenario you have to delete the darn thing and let your Mac create a new one (which it should be doing every single time it wakes/sleeps). I once had a sleep file on a customer's machine at around 60GBs who had the same problem as you.

    If the issue persists (either continues to create giant sleep files, or indeed you cannot seem to locate all your data and I am wrong) I would agree with one of the previous posts: Wipe and re-install. Fresh software is ALWAYS going to be the best and safest path to take. Because there is likely a problem in the system that cannot be fixed by these kinds of palliative solutions. Likely in the kernel or some some launchd process, which takes the issue to an engineering level haha and thus waaaaay over my head and not worth the effort.

    So back up, wipe the system clean, then drag and drop your data (music/pics/movies/apps). I'd recommend NOT migrating your data over the easy way (using migration assistant with your Time Machine backup) since the issue may just be carried over with your old data.

    Best of luck. Sorry for the late response, hopefully you were able to resolve the issue.

    OH, one more thing, to hide all of the files you've just unhidden, use the same terminal commands I posted earlier but instead of typing TRUE use the opposite, FALSE. Boom, files hidden away from the user :)


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