Help: Start-up disk full error

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by McLagman, Jan 16, 2012.

  1. McLagman macrumors newbie

    Nov 21, 2011
    If anyone can help...

    I bought my sis and her husband an iMac in 2010, and now it's acting up, so I am on the hook for 24/7 tech support. Anyway...

    It's a 20" iMac, intel based. Recently upgraded to Lion, but was acting up a little before then.

    When the computer starts up, there is a brief message that the startup disk is almost full.

    It has a 500 gig hard drive. They only have about 60 gigs of pics, music, etc. on the disk, and nothing else that I can see on the drive BUT the drive says about 499 gigs are used. I do a command-I on the main folder and it shows the 499 gigs used, but if I look at all the sub folders, they only add up to about 60.

    They have been running Time Machine hooked up to a 320 gig external hard drive. The last backup that went through was in December. Since then, it has been trying to back up and failed because it says the external drive is also full.

    So, does anyone know how to find which files are hidden?

    Is this a Time Machine problem keeping hidden local files since the external filled up?

    IS something else writing to the hard drive and filling it up?

    I've run the disk utility, the disk checked out as OK, verified and repaired permissions, etc.

    Also, when I go to "About this Mac" and click on storage, it shows 450 gigs filled up with files labelled "Other."

    The only thing funky they ran was AOL Desktop, which now won't work after upgrading to Lion, and I deleted it.

    Any help would be appreciated!!!
  2. r0k macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    Sometimes those "other" files are backups that are made to the local disk. I know it's stupid but OS X backs itself up to itself from time to time. It usually happens when Time Machine kicks in and the disk it normally backs up to isn't available. I haven't had this happen but I've read a lot of posts about it. There are instructions here to reclaim that wasted space.
  3. smirk macrumors 6502a


    Jul 18, 2002
    Orange County, CA
    Yeah, try getting something like JDiskReport ( to find out what's taking up so much space. Just be aware that it will list out filenames, which could prove embarrassing and potentially marriage-unfriendly. Best to run it in private.

    Let us know how it goes!
  4. Macman45 macrumors G5


    Jul 29, 2011
    Somewhere Back In The Long Ago
    In about this mac>more info>storage, what does the report give you? This may be caused by a pre-backup image being stored on the iMac because the other drive is either full, or faulty.
  5. McLagman thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 21, 2011
    It lists Audio, Movies, Photos, etc. totaling about 50 gigs and 447 of "Other." When I browse the folders, I can't find any files or folders that come remotely close to the 447.

    I've searched all the forums, and the closest problem I have found is Macbooks using Time Machine and it writing files when not connected to an external disk. But this isn't a Macbook, it's an iMac and it remains connected to the external drive.

    I turned off Time Machine and unplugged the external drive... had no discernible effect.
  6. Macman45 macrumors G5


    Jul 29, 2011
    Somewhere Back In The Long Ago
    Have you checked the external drive? If it's got issues or is full, the image is "waiting" to be written to a disk that TM may not be able to access.

    Perhaps borrow a spare hdd from a friend and try that with TM. Keep your existing backup hdd safe though.
  7. JediMeister macrumors 68040

    Oct 9, 2008
    If it's the same issue a few of my clients have had, its probably a Recovered Messages.mbox in ~/Library/Mail. See this for the fix. In short, there's a saved draft with an attachment in an IMAP account that keeps being downloaded from the server down to the Mac. Clearing the .OfflineCache, unchecking "Store draft messages on the server", and trashing the Recovered Messages.mbox file should free up the hard drive space.
  8. GGJstudios 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.
    • For Time Machine users on Lion, space may being consumed by Time Machine local snapshots, which can be disabled.
    • 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.
    • 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.
  9. fmba4 macrumors newbie

    Jan 31, 2012
    Startup disk full??


    recently on my MacBook Pro, I upgraded my memory slots from 1GB each, to 4GB each, totaling 8GB total.

    as soon as I upgraded I got a message saying that my startup disk is full.
    I thought upgrading my memory slot would solve this issue. Seems to me it hasnt. Does anyone have any idea? or what should I do?

    thank in advance.
  10. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    Upgrading RAM will have no effect on how full your disk is. Read my post just before yours.
  11. hazzage15 macrumors newbie

    Oct 7, 2012
    Startup Disk is almost Full?

    I have just had this problem on my macbook pro 13" and imac 21". The whole problem is fixing the issue, but having the computer work at the same time. I deleted multiple files, freeing up loads of disk space and the same issue occurs. In the end backing up with timemachine wont actually work because the computer has supposedly no diskspace, and all I got was the spinning pizza:| However there is the option to reformat the disk in disk utilities. It worked for me, however you can't use timemachine. You have to manually back up your folder to a external hardrive, compressing a partition of the orignal hardrive to a DMG file in safemode in disk utilities in startup mode, then loading it back on after you have re formated the orginal computer hardrive. I used migration assistant to load all my files back on to the orignal reformatted mac hardrive. Computer is fine now

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