Hard Drive Utilization (Rule of Thumb)

When it comes to keeping your computer running smoothly, there's one thing that should be easy to do... don't fil up your hard drive (or SSD, if you happen to be so lucky to use one). Most people don't consider a full hard drive a real problem, but in reality, it can really halt your ability to get things done. Here's why.

Just the other day, I was called by a client who couldn't seem to do anything on their computer. They couldn't save a Word document, they couldn't print... in the end they couldn't even log out of their profile. I took one look at it and quickly assessed the problem. They had completely filled their hard drive to capacity. It happened to be a 500 GB hard drive and after a brief inspection, I determined that they had 0 bytes of available hard drive space. Their hard drive was literally 100% full.

Why is this bad? For at least two reasons. First of all, logic says that if something is completely full, your ability to add anything else to it is non-existent. There's no way they can save or do anything. Secondly, most modern Operating Systems use a "swap" file system. When your OS uses all available physical memory (RAM), it resorts to using the hard drive (or SSD) as "pseudo-memory" to continue running your applications as normally as possible (albeit slower). If there is no more space available on the hard drive, it can't do that, therefore, the OS either runs very, very slowly, or begins to stop functioning altogether. Either scenario is bad for the user experience.

Kevin's rule of thumb is that you never, ever use more than 80% of your hard drive's available space.


If you have a 500 GB hard drive, don't use more than 400 GB. If you have a 1 TB hard drive, don't use more than 800 GB. You get the idea. This will help to keep your system running smoothly. This rule of thumb, by the way, applies to all devices... even iPads and iPhones.

Most people know how to check their hard drive utilization. If you aren't sure, contact me and I will help.

Posted on June 22, 2015 and filed under Opinion.