Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question
Solved

How much space to leave on hard drive? Conflicting answers...

Last response: in Components
Share
August 7, 2012 7:34:50 PM

I have a question about hard drives.

The place I brought my PC to get fixed gave me some really cryptic information, and something that I had never heard of before.

They remarked that when looking at my PC, they noticed that my 1 TB hard drive had about 700 Gigs on it, leaving about 235 or so Gigs free.

They told me that generally it's bad for a computer to have a hard drive that is MORE THAN HALF FULL. They said that if you have a 1 TB drive, you should never have more than 500 Gigs on it, or if a 2 TB drive, you should never have more than 1 TB on it.

They said that when you have it more than half full, you are reading from the outer portion of the drive, and that also in general more than half full can lead to crashes and shutdowns, and can prevent Windows from loading properly.

Now, I am fully aware that you need to keep a certain percentage of a drive free so the system can function, a small cushion. You don't want it be TOTALLY full. And of course, you want keep your drive defragmented and well maintained, that's all basic knowledge.

But no more than HALF? I had never heard of such a thing! I've read you need to keep at least about 10% or 15% percent of a drive free perhaps, but NEVER heard 50% before!

What's the real deal here?

Best solution

August 7, 2012 7:37:13 PM

5-10% is more reasonable, that 50% theory is BS, the fuller the drive gets the slower it will go but a full drive will still let windows load, just slower, anyway some of the hard drive space is taken by the windows by default (paging file...).
Share
August 7, 2012 7:47:04 PM

Few GB is still OK, but 100MB is not, that will drastically reduce the performance.

All that goes for the HDD. SSD is fine even if less than 1MB is free.

I should know : )

m
0
l
Related resources
August 7, 2012 7:51:33 PM

But less space u have more fragmented your drive become.

U cannot effectively defrag anymore.

So, best is to make your HDD partitioned, leave 50GB for the system and leave it on the front of the disk, that way your performance is top.
m
0
l
August 7, 2012 7:52:54 PM

Jay,

Thanks for the quick response!

I suspected as much about the percentage you need to keep free.

Why do these tech places have to come out with this paranoid BS? It's ridiculous. You go in these places, and it's like dealing with an auto repair garage. You go in with a hard drive issue, and they find six other things they claim is wrong, then they have to talk you with all these system theories and make you feel like you've been abusing your PC the whole time! I almost got the sense that these guys just liked hearing themselves talk.

Buyer beware, know exactly what you want done, make it clear to them you know how PC's work and you're not about to be scammed.

Unbelievable.

Thanks again.
m
0
l
August 7, 2012 7:53:38 PM

jay_nar2012 said:
Isn't 1 hard drive enough :bounce: 

No, I have 8 other sitting next to me : )

Working hard and swapping them as needed.

Need more sata ports. 99% of the time, the DVD drive is unplugged too.
m
0
l
August 7, 2012 7:58:51 PM

nikorr said:
No, I have 8 other sitting next to me : )

Working hard and swapping them as needed.

Need more sata ports. 99% of the time, the DVD drive is unplugged too.


:lol: 
8?, never had more than one in a computer......
m
0
l
August 7, 2012 8:00:28 PM

Oinkusboinkus said:
Jay,

Thanks for the quick response!

I suspected as much about the percentage you need to keep free.

Why do these tech places have to come out with this paranoid BS? It's ridiculous. You go in these places, and it's like dealing with an auto repair garage. You go in with a hard drive issue, and they find six other things they claim is wrong, then they have to talk you with all these system theories and make you feel like you've been abusing your PC the whole time! I almost got the sense that these guys just liked hearing themselves talk.

Buyer beware, know exactly what you want done, make it clear to them you know how PC's work and you're not about to be scammed.

Unbelievable.

Thanks again.

Well, if u read that on the site that make the HDD's, they will say that, its logical. Best performance it when its almost empty : )

But any significant slow down is if the drive has less than 2-3GB left. They wanna make $$$ on you. So, if they see that u don't understand much about it, some people will take you for the ride.

Happen to me too, they tried, but I understand a bit about it. Its best if u will build your own PC and than u don't have to listen to them.

That way u will learn about that too. They wanna tell u how u will get warranty and all the accessories and who know what else. Mostly its junk.

m
0
l
August 7, 2012 8:02:50 PM

jay_nar2012 said:
:lol: 
8?, never had more than one in a computer......

I have a lot of photos and video to edit yet.

You didn't see the amount of DVD's I have yet : )

Well, its my job as a photographer to do my work at home, as I work for myself.
m
0
l
August 7, 2012 8:03:12 PM

nikorr said:
But less space u have more fragmented your drive become.

U cannot effectively defrag anymore.

So, best is to make your HDD partitioned, leave 50GB for the system and leave it on the front of the disk, that way your performance is top.



Ok, I certainly understand that principle. Makes sense that it would be harder to defragment the more information you have stored on a drive.

BUT, in my case, this shop is telling me that I'm abusing my 1 TB hard drive because I have 700 out of 950 Gigs filled on it? I've got 250 Gigs free and they are telling me that a hard drive isn't even designed for that and that I'm not using it correctly!

Certainly having 200-250 Gigs on a hard drive, it can still be defragmented and can still function normally yes?

This just seems so silly to me.

I'm waiting for this place to tell me next that you can't have more than two USB devices plugged in at any one time LOL. I won't be shocked if get some JFK theories the day I pick it up... :pt1cable: 

m
0
l
August 7, 2012 8:03:42 PM

Oinkusboinkus said:
Jay,

Thanks for the quick response!

I suspected as much about the percentage you need to keep free.

Why do these tech places have to come out with this paranoid BS? It's ridiculous. You go in these places, and it's like dealing with an auto repair garage. You go in with a hard drive issue, and they find six other things they claim is wrong, then they have to talk you with all these system theories and make you feel like you've been abusing your PC the whole time! I almost got the sense that these guys just liked hearing themselves talk.

Buyer beware, know exactly what you want done, make it clear to them you know how PC's work and you're not about to be scammed.

Unbelievable.

Thanks again.


I think most of the time they make theorys of the top of their heads (a CPU's life is 3 yrs max for example).
Not sure but that theory is 101% BS, if that was true then people would buy a lot of hard drives, and thats probably what they want you to do.
m
0
l
August 7, 2012 8:05:08 PM

Oinkusboinkus said:
Ok, I certainly understand that principle. Makes sense that it would be harder to defragment the more information you have stored on a drive.

BUT, in my case, this shop is telling me that I'm abusing my 1 TB hard drive because I have 700 out of 950 Gigs filled on it? I've got 250 Gigs free and they are telling me that a hard drive isn't even designed for that and that I'm not using it correctly!

Certainly having 200-250 Gigs on a hard drive, it can still be defragmented and can still function normally yes?

This just seems so silly to me.

I'm waiting for this place to tell me next that you can't have more than two USB devices plugged in at any one time LOL. I won't be shocked if get some JFK theories the day I pick it up... :pt1cable: 


Yes, it would just take a long long time, sorting out those fragmented files.
And it would still do the same thing...

m
0
l
August 7, 2012 8:05:59 PM

You can build yourself faster and bloat free system for some 35% less.

All it takes, to build first one and lots of people come here for advice what parts to get

and where is the best place to get them : )

And where to troubleshoot, if u have a problem, for free.
m
0
l
August 7, 2012 8:11:56 PM

Oinkusboinkus said:
Ok, I certainly understand that principle. Makes sense that it would be harder to defragment the more information you have stored on a drive.

BUT, in my case, this shop is telling me that I'm abusing my 1 TB hard drive because I have 700 out of 950 Gigs filled on it? I've got 250 Gigs free and they are telling me that a hard drive isn't even designed for that and that I'm not using it correctly!

Certainly having 200-250 Gigs on a hard drive, it can still be defragmented and can still function normally yes?

This just seems so silly to me.

I'm waiting for this place to tell me next that you can't have more than two USB devices plugged in at any one time LOL. I won't be shocked if get some JFK theories the day I pick it up... :pt1cable: 

If they are telling u that, make a complain on that person. The HDD will go dead one day, if u will use it hard way or not. So, u wanna get most out of it. That is easy to understand. I run them full. If the HDD is almost full, it works harder, but its made to work hard.

"it can still be defragmented and can still function normally"

Yes, I would even partition that. But it would take some time : )
m
0
l
August 7, 2012 8:13:36 PM

Whats your system?

Post your specs...

CPU:
RAM: with link please.
Motherboard:
GPU:
PSU:
HDD: /SSD
OS type + version
m
0
l
August 7, 2012 8:16:25 PM

This is what I normally do.


SSD - W7 + all the programs + page file

HDD - partition 1 @60GB - photos, project and other files up to 5MB + Document folder

HDD - partition 2 @100GB - music, and other files up to 30MB/per file.
HDD - partition 3 @ whats left for files 30MB> videos and other files

To have a partitions, is to separate the system from the Doc. files,

so in the case of corruption on the system drive, u don't loose the files,

so that's the main reason to partition.

If u separate the small files from large ones, the fragmentation is small and it is easy to keep it de-fragmented.


Move Your Libraries off of the system drive...
http://www.tweakhound.com/windows7/tweaking/5.html
m
0
l
August 7, 2012 8:17:33 PM

...oops, meant to say in my response above, "Certainly having 200-250 Gigs FREE on a hard drive"....
m
0
l
August 7, 2012 8:18:36 PM

Best answer selected by oinkusboinkus.
m
0
l
August 7, 2012 8:19:59 PM

nikorr said:
Few GB is still OK, but 100MB is not, that will drastically reduce the performance.

All that goes for the HDD. SSD is fine even if less than 1MB is free.

I should know : )

http://img844.imageshack.us/img844/1395/20120805074618.png



LOL! This looks exactly like my computer... except all my HDD's are in the red (except windows one)
m
0
l
August 7, 2012 8:25:49 PM

Mine got into low 580KB and it was performing great, I didn't even know,

I found out that every download I started was canceled, due to low space ; ))

I needed some 5MB file and I could't get it. The fault was, that Handbrake hibernated the PC after the job was done and it created 15GB hiberfil.sys file.
m
0
l
August 7, 2012 8:27:38 PM

nikorr said:
This is what I normally do.


SSD - W7 + all the programs + page file

HDD - partition 1 @60GB - photos, project and other files up to 5MB + Document folder

HDD - partition 2 @100GB - music, and other files up to 30MB/per file.
HDD - partition 3 @ whats left for files 30MB> videos and other files

To have a partitions, is to separate the system from the Doc. files,

so in the case of corruption on the system drive, u don't loose the files,

so that's the main reason to partition.

If u separate the small files from large ones, the fragmentation is small and it is easy to keep it de-fragmented.


Move Your Libraries off of the system drive...
http://www.tweakhound.com/windows7/tweaking/5.html



I certainly appreciate what you are saying. However, I've never really been savvy enough to partition drives. I'm more the type of PC user who just buys more than enough storage space, and I just use the hard drive, and keep it organized and defragmented. I never fill hard drives to capacity. I usually typically, after installing numerous games, keeping all my personal data on it, downloads, etc, etc.....fill it to about 75% capacity where it tends to plateau off and remain there. When I'm gaming, I use gaming booster programs that shut down processes that are not needed during play, then turn them back on afterwards.

I've never had a hard drive crash or not load Windows because the majority of the drive was full. Startup errors at times YES, but of the sort that can happen no matter how little or much you have on the drive.

If anything, I do notice that it can take significantly longer during startup to load everything the more you have on a hard drive....but when I say "significantly longer", we're talking like an extra minute or minute and a half of loading time before the desktop is "released" to you for initial usage. We're not talking about huge amounts of time.

m
0
l
August 7, 2012 8:28:26 PM

This thread is proof that his theory is wrong, show him this so that he stops telling other people wrong info and making them worry for no reason.
m
0
l
August 7, 2012 8:36:59 PM

Oinkusboinkus said:
I certainly appreciate what you are saying. However, I've never really been savvy enough to partition drives. I'm more the type of PC user who just buys more than enough storage space, and I just use the hard drive, and keep it organized and defragmented. I never fill hard drives to capacity. I usually typically, after installing numerous games, keeping all my personal data on it, downloads, etc, etc.....fill it to about 75% capacity where it tends to plateau off and remain there. When I'm gaming, I use gaming booster programs that shut down processes that are not needed during play, then turn them back on afterwards.

I've never had a hard drive crash or not load Windows because the majority of the drive was full. Startup errors at times YES, but of the sort that can happen no matter how little or much you have on the drive.

If anything, I do notice that it can take significantly longer during startup to load everything the more you have on a hard drive....but when I say "significantly longer", we're talking like an extra minute or minute and a half of loading time before the desktop is "released" to you for initial usage. We're not talking about huge amounts of time.

Do u have a back up?
m
0
l
August 7, 2012 8:49:12 PM

nikorr said:
Do u have a back up?


I do actually. Well, I should say that I always keep my data backed up.

Going back the past four years or so, I have always made it a habit of keeping an external drive of equal size to my internal drive.

Essentially I keep it as a data mirror in a way. Whenever I save a file to my internal drive, I save it to the same folder on my external drive. That way I've always got an up to date backup of all my information that is a mirror of what is on my internal drive. It's also useful to save all my downloads in the same way, because it serves as a chronological record of the programs and updates I've done, and I can go back and just reinstall what I need without having to search for or remember what I downloaded.

So yes, I always use a backup drive. However, I don't have a backup OS installed anwhere. That would be where having multiple internal drives would be useful, am I correct?

In other words, if you had two drives or more with Windows installed on them, you could still effectively start up your system even if one of the other drives failed.

I believe a friend of mine did that, he had two drives, one with Windows XP, the other with Windows 98. He could boot up from either drive he wished to.

Is that how that works?
m
0
l
August 7, 2012 8:54:38 PM

As long as u back up, u are fine,

because the drives are going to die, we don't know when : )

I try to always back up to identical size drives.

Finally, the sizes are getting into the right sizes.
m
0
l
August 7, 2012 8:57:44 PM

I guess it's okay to think you can fill them up until you try and defrag them and there isn't enough room to do it.
m
0
l
August 7, 2012 9:03:24 PM

BTW, what are u using to defrag your drive?
m
0
l
August 7, 2012 10:13:29 PM

swifty_morgan said:
I guess it's okay to think you can fill them up until you try and defrag them and there isn't enough room to do it.


It's not about "thinking it's ok" to recklessly "fill them up".

It's about using them normally, and leaving a cushion of 200-250 Gigs.

Certainly with that much cushion, there is plenty of room to successfully defragment.

Why would they make hard drives 1 TB or 2 TB, or whatever size if you were not able to able to utilize the majority of the storage space available?

This isn't about taking 1 TB of storage space and stuffing it full, down to the last sector. It's about being able to use a hard drive and using most of the available space, but not all of it.

m
0
l
October 13, 2013 4:43:59 PM

According to Jean Andrews 8th Edition A+ Guide to Managing and Maintaining Your PC and I quote "For best performance, Windows needs about 15 percent free space on the hard drive that is uses for defragmenting the drive, for burning CDs and DVDs, and for a variety of other tasks, so it's important to delete unneeded files occasionally!
m
0
l
October 28, 2013 4:56:12 PM

nikorr said:
Few GB is still OK, but 100MB is not, that will drastically reduce the performance.

All that goes for the HDD. SSD is fine even if less than 1MB is free.

I should know : )



This thread hasn't had much added to it in a while but considering the amount of misunderstanding going on here, hopefully my response from my research will help someone out in the future. Simply put, running an SSD with 1MB of free space may not affect your perforamce very much, but it also could make it last 1/10th or less of it's average lifetime (more on this later). With that said, I don't post to threads, but Tom's Hardware used to (I have much less time to look into things) be an excellent source and no-one really seemed to do a good job clarifying this issue. Even the Jean Andrews 8th Edition of "What without the why." Lastly, feel free to correct any errors I have here because all of this is from memory and won't be in chronological order to the above comments.

First, there is no magic number, even a percentage when there are so many technologies out there to utilize. Fortunately for us we are only concerned with two of them SSD and HDD. They are both still used, and one is better than the other but not always. Where windows is concerned it's going to be concerned with only a few things and usually it will take care of them (or block you from getting it it's way too much, heh). After that, anything you do with the hard drive will probably just fine and won't drastically affect your performance. That last statement of course will also bear weight on if your using an old IBM Thinkpad with specifications too horrible to reference, or an all new ultrabook with branding so shinny you can see your face in it :)  Ok, so I'll start with the SSD and HDD difference.

The main difference between and SSD and an HDD is how information is stored. Think of an HDD as super efficient finely tuned record player (assuming it could erase and re-write information). HDDs store information with magnetic charge (+ or -, which is a 0 or 1 to the computer). This is done through physical mechanism, which is an arm (armature) suspended over the 'platter' (discs -- there is usually 3-5 of them in each HDD). The speed at which the information can be written/read is a factor of both the disc rotation speed and how dense or tightly packed information . I'm referring to the maximum read/write speed here which drives (of all kinds) don't meet. Where this information is (outside or inside of the disc) doesn't matter nearly as much as where 'some' information is in relation to other information). This is called fragmentation and starts to happen when you run drives to close to their total storage. The reason for this is because your computer doesn't have to store that Elvis Album you have in orchestra quality in one box on shelf like we do. It's more than happy to chop that data up (and use snazzy things I won't go into like memory addresses and allocation tables) to reconstitute it for you when your actually listening to it. That itself is ok, but what happens when you keep writing next to that information and then later delete the Elvis album? The computer will take the 50GB of new open space (you really loved Elvis, but can't bear his parting) and then put 50GB of new information there. The 'fragment' occurs when your Guns and Roses album is smaller or larger than that Elvis album (even though we know no-one really can replace him in our hearts). It either uses all that space and puts the rest somewhere else or it can't use it all and will split some other information. It does this because yes there is a difference between inner or outer disc, but what is WAY slower is having to move around to different areas are Ok, so here's why having a full HDD hard drive is bad:

Problem 1: There more information (and larger pieces do this more than smaller pieces) make the drive work 'physically' get to the locations where only parts of all the information is or needs to be put. So how much space matters? It's unique to each drive and windows so you should estimate more than guess. Jean Andrews is playing pretty safe number when he says 15% of total drive size, but it's wrong too. Here's how you 'should do it' when concerning an HDD if you want to be super nerdy and specifically obsessed like I can be.

1.) I if it's your system drive, I would leave at least the size of your ram (say 2, or 4GB) with best being at double that. This is just an estimation too but it makes the estimation relative to the actual hardware that you probably have. A computer with 512MB of RAM is very doubtfully going to be having a very large hard drive. Again windows 7 for example, will reserve hibernate and virtual space with pre-set sizes so you don't have to worry too much about those (unless you want to -- I do -- he he).

2.) Estimate both the largest size of file and largest size of related files that you would use or read/write on the drive. Basically, by having the same or greater amount of space as either of these two numbers will keep your drive from fragmenting too much (again SSDs don't fragment).

Example: I have a system drive. I get a 2nd drive and place all my other information on that (yes, my laptop is a 17" fat pig of a laptop that has two). I have both an SSD and and HDD so I can have my cake and eat it too. I also get ripped arms lugging it around doorways I can't fit into (socially, physically, or otherwise).

Ok, I've dragged on way to long here so the SSD summary is going to be short. It's dramatically different to but much more simple to understand how to use so you only have to understand a few things.

SSDs don't move physically so all information 'gathering' speeds are the same. The number of pieces don't affect or matter, essentially it's not going to wear out any more or less if it's in 1000 or 10. It's performance will be drastically better than an HDD in this is in direct relation to the number of pieces the total data your read/writing is essentially. Every-time an HDD jumps from one memory location to another (at least newer ones) it cost you about 3-9 Milli-seconds (average of maybe 4ms) of 'lag' or 'speed-up and slow-down' time. If all the information is in one location (this is refereed to as 'sequential' information, there is little difference in performance between an SSD and an HDD. In an SSD each location costs you about .01ms of time. The read/write isn't a magnetic change (which fail must faster than an HDDs actually magnetic charged location ever would since something would have to physically damage it in almost all cases for it to loose that charge). SSDs change memory based on one of actual 'state', this means that it wears approximately the same (metaphorically) as writing on and off of a piece of paper. 1000 people could read from it but the more you erase and write, the more state changes your making. It's about 10-100,000 read write operations for each little time 1/0 that an SSD can hold. That may sound like little but drives can now evenly wear these locations out, even for data that you think you might not move (gen. refereed to as trim support and almost all SSDs have). This functions as a background process on the drive (it won't or shouldn't cost your CPU performance) and will basically move your information form spaces that have been used very little to those that have been used a lot. The problem here is that if you don't leave enough room on most SSDs, they will essentially either not be able to do this, or your benefit from it becomes less and less because you keep writing to the same spots and it constantly must compensate for it. A general estimate like Jean's will work here too (I've heard anywhere from 10-20%).

Summary, an SSD, since it doesn't take time to physically have to move, is way faster for loading windows and running programs because it won't fragment, auto-adjusts for wear etc. and these days has higher sequential read/write speeds anyway. It's method of using it's memory however will cause increasing amounts of wear to it's memory 'cells' or storage spaces the less and less of it you have. More than 20% and your pretty much fine but again it depends more on 'how' you use your data and how large those operations are. For these reasons, I and many others use SSDs and keep them as free as possible.

Summary, an HDD is best for it's size and usually in most cases is (or was as of 2011/2012 as fast as most SSDs when it comes to sequential read/writes) and for this reason is cheaper to own as use for media (like 50GB Bluray folders/files). It also, importantly (assuming no intense magnetic field hits the drive), will not loose your information if something in it's firmware, power board, etc goes bad. If you threw it against the wall while it was running and it lost power before being able to stop it's internal movements, it probably won't. Laptop (2.5" size) HDDs usually implement some way to stop HDDs in use before impacts but I don't know much if anything about how they predict this. I do know that I've seen (on video) a person using their SSDs (20 of them I think) while jumping on a trampoline with no issues (speed included). This means that for longevity even when most HDD drives fail, you could send them in and get most (if not all) the data off of them. It would cost 200-2000 dollars but you could do it. For most SSDs, if they fail, there's a much higher chance that they are dead (although there is still a reasonable recovery rate on most of their storage space too).

I hope that information helps or at least helps you find the right information if I'm wrong. I won't be checking back on this one, so feel free to point out any errors, I just hope that my spewing of this in one long post helps in some other way than showing I was too much time at random times. I am, like an system drive HDD with too much space used; in that way.
m
0
l
November 6, 2013 12:11:03 PM

The general rule of thumb has been to leave 10%-15% of the drive space free. Yeah, you're not always going to need all of that space free to have an efficient computer but it depends on the size of your drive and other factors.

Sequential access of data is always more efficient. Think of having cards labeled 1-100. Will it be easier to lay out the cards in numerical order if they're grouped together in another deck of cards or if they're scattered randomly in the card deck? The answer is the former for obvious reasons: you're not spending as much time searching for the next card. The same holds for magnetic disk access. You want to have contiguous file storage (i.e. all of it is located together on disk) to minimize the amount of time you spend moving the head of the arm around and the amount of time spent rotating the disk to get the data.

So if you have a full disk. The OS and other programs can't dynamically/statically allocate contiguous storage for files, making access time extremely slow.
m
0
l
!