Harddisk is suddenly full

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by renesteg, Oct 8, 2010.

  1. renesteg macrumors newbie


    Oct 8, 2010
    since a few days I have the issue, that my harddisk is suddenly completely full.
    First I thought, I just had reached the limit by using too much space, so I moved some data, actually about 30 GB of Pictures, to an external drive. However, 3 days later the drive was full again.
    Sounds like a virus I thought and ran a complete virus scan, which actually detected and removed successfully some trojans. But even after those were removed, I still had a process, which filled my disk. It was easy to detect in the Information window of my Macintosh harddrive, where I virtually could see, how the filesystem was filled with trash.
    I had the impression, that Safari was the cause and it actually happened when Safari was running for a longer time period. But that seems not to be the case, as I had the very same symptoms with Firefox too.
    Currently my Virus Scanner does not report any threats and also since yesterday, the usage of my filesystem seems stable, though I currently trust Firefox more than Safari, I still have the feeling, that something might be wrong with Safari.
    Another very weird thing is, that something has replicated my directory path within Macintosh HD. I have a structure with the harddrive looking like this: Macintosh HD/Macintosh HD/Macintosh HD/Macintosh HD... Not really normal is it? And in each sub dir, I find all the dirs and files of the top level drive...I would expect, that I can get rid of the entire Macintosh HD/Macintosh HD directory structure without any harm, right?? But that still leaves the question, how were they created anyway??
    Does anybody know of any issues in Snow Leopard like these? I could imagine, that it must not be a virus, but that there is simply a bug in the OS.
    Thanks for any support on this.
  2. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    First off, you don't have a virus, and unless you actually installed one of the few Mac trojans, what that scanner found was almost certainly just Windows trojans that had ended up in your email.

    That said, there's obviously something very wrong with your computer.

    Based on the symptoms you describe, the most obvious cause is some errant process generating massive log files due to some repeated error. Just about anything can do this, and since the files aren't stored in an obvious location it can go pretty much unnoticed until it fills up your drive. I personally had Microsoft Silverlight do this to me when I left a video player open overnight.

    To check, open Console (/Applications/Utilities/Console.app) and go through the list of log files--the size of the file you select is shown at the bottom left of the window. One of them is probably several gigabytes, and which one will tell you what's causing the problem. That, or check the Console Messages database for long strings of repeated items and see what's generating them (it's at the top of the Log List pane in Console).

    I will add that Safari, under anything resembling normal circumstances, will NOT do this. It's known as a memory hog (it's RAM cache tends to bloat the longer it's open), but it'll only chew up disk space like that if there's something very wrong with it.

    However... you definitely shouldn't have a /Macintosh HD/Macintosh HD/Macintosh HD/Macintosh HD... tree sitting on your drive. Meaning either a misbehaving app created it somehow, or you've got directory corruption of some kind--which could cause all sorts of weird behavior, up to and including other apps misbehaving or mysteriously disappearing disk space.

    So, run a verify from Disk Utility and see if it finds anything. If so, boot from the disc the computer came with and run Disk Utility from there to see if it can fix the problem. If it comes up clean, then maybe something else made that tree, and it should be safe to delete.

    Possibly relevant question: Have you installed any low-level system hacks/modifications/utilities? Stuff like that is usually the most likely to be at fault for odd behavior.
  3. renesteg thread starter macrumors newbie


    Oct 8, 2010
    Thanks for your reply makosuke. I had checked my filesystem with Data Inventory after I had moved several of the large directories to an external drive. But nada, it found only the normal large directories, such as the application dir and so forth.
    I have the impression, that after I ran CleanMyMac yesterday, the system is more stable again.
    I am currently running a full backup and will then do as you suggested running the disk utility tool to validate my HD. In any case will I try to remove recursively the Macintosh HD/Macintosh HD directory path and see what happens.
    Concerning your question to a low-level system application, the only ones I installed were backup and virus scanner. Before I decided to go for Data Backup I evaluated SmartBackup and I evaluated several Virus Scanner and have now bought BitDefender, as this one was the only one, which could remove the Trojans. The others were ClamXav and ProtectMac.
  4. northernbaldy macrumors 6502a


    Jan 13, 2010
    the north, UK
    not the old norton "spacesuckingfile" problem is it?

    years ago, I mistakingly installed Norton antivirus on my mac, it was garbage so I attempted to uninstall it
    the bloody program created a file that was equal to the free space on the disk!!


    google it :mad:
  5. renesteg thread starter macrumors newbie


    Oct 8, 2010
    No that can not be the issue in my case, northern. Thanks. I did not install Norton AV on my mac, though I was close .... ;-)
  6. spinnerlys Guest


    Sep 7, 2008
    forlod bygningen
  7. Sydde macrumors 68020


    Aug 17, 2009
    The Macintosh HD/Macintosh HD/… thing sounds like it could be a symbolic link that just forms a tidy loop. Or perhaps it is one of the hard links that HFS+ supports for directories since 10.5.
  8. renesteg thread starter macrumors newbie


    Oct 8, 2010
    Hi all
    thanks for your support so far. And I got the space back. After I bully backed up my mac I ran the Disk utility to check if anything is wrong with the HD. The utility found nothing. So I just deleted the subdirectories and got my 130 GBs back!
    I suppose that my backup utility Data Backup is doing something wrong when writing the so called versioned backups. The utility started last Monday around 5 pm and the additional directory structure has exactly this timestamp.
    I am in contact with the vendor to see if there is a known issue. Worst case, I have to change the backup tool, which would not be such a big deal, but in general I am actually satisfied with Data Backup.

    So let's see, what will happen when the next Backup starts today, as this will be a delta.
  9. quinnkyle macrumors newbie

    Nov 10, 2011
    hard drive is suddenly full

    Try OmniSweep. You can download it for free (http://www.omnigroup.com/products/omnidisksweeper/)

    I had the same problem. I've only had this new new 27" imac (running Lion - 10.7.2) for a couple of months. All files except application files are kept on external drive, so I was mystified. This happened in like one week. After moving all iPhoto and as much music as I could bear to an external hard drive, I still had only about 11 gigs available on my 1 TB hard drive.

    After downloading OmniSweep, I found the problem was in Mail. For some reason the Recovered Messages file was enormous. After I deleted the recovered files, I noticed I have incoming mail from both gmail and yahoo, but noticed my gmail file is relatively small (although the bulk of my email comes from there). The yahoo IMAP folder was about 155 MB, by comparison, and I only get about 2 emails a day from that account. I'm not sure if yahoo mail is where this originated, so I'm keeping an eye on it.

    Deleting the "recovered messages" via OmniSweep in the free'd up 927 gigs on my hard drive in about 2 minutes! This didn't work by simply deleting them on Mail.
  10. koue macrumors newbie

    Oct 8, 2007
    Harddisk is suddenly full

    A huge thanks to quinnkyle. His solution totally saved my butt. I had the exact same problem. Mac Mail for Lion has proved very unstable for me.

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