Monday, 3 February 2014

How to Resolve: “Your startup disk is almost full”?

Every Mac has a hard drive that possesses enough space to hold pool of data involving MUSIC, VIDEOS, DOCUMENTS, APPLICATIONS & OTHER such data. A Macintosh hard drive, say 500GB can have up to millions of sectors that sustain every single files of an application or a folder. A file is made to occupy some sector of the hard drive on the command of the OS X itself.  All these activities are performed on the back-end and a user may not have a clue of it. This is the part of an OS, and OS X takes care of it professionally.

Coming back to the OS X hard drive, it must be partitioned to ease storing of files & folders in an organized manner. In a house, we have several rooms like the dining & bedroom and each room has its significance. Likewise, the hard drive must have several partitions so that OS X can find ease in managing the data aprioristically.  Not only the OS X, but user too benefits from creating partitions of the hard drive. This way, user can dedicate partitions for saving their music, videos, study-material and so on. OS X also, allows another version of the OS X to stay on a partition of the hard drive. Thus, partitioning a hard drive has several uncountable benefits to both OS X & user.   

Macintosh OS (Startup-Disk): By default, OS X resides on the drive named Macintosh OS. You may choose to have another alias for the same drive (or purpose) but by default, the Macintosh OS holds the OS X, and is undoubtedly the heart of the Mac system. No matter under what circumstances, no one would prefer to mess with this partition of the hard drive.   

With handy Disk Utility, creating multiple partitions on a single drive is now a child’s play and every Mac user is aware of it. Macintosh OS has no significance to saving user’s personal data but it has lots of importance in holding files of installed applications. Be it Apple’s own apps that come bundled with the OS X or downloaded third party apps, all find home in Macintosh OS. Partition. 

Your Startup Disk is almost full

No one would ever wish to have a warning message displaying that ‘Your Startup Disk is almost full’, and that too on Mac start-up disk.

Above is an image of the warning message in its original form.

So, their lies an option to tick the check box included in the window and forgets about the warning message for next time. Yes, a user may choose to do it but this is something that shouldn’t be ignored. As far the performance of Mac OS X is concerned, user shouldn’t take this warning message lightly. The message however, prompts that the Start-Up Disk (Macintosh OS, incase) is running out of space due to plenty of applications (data) installed on it.

How to start diagnosing the grey areas of the disk in question?

It’s an obvious fact that free spaces for the OS X boot disk is need to created so that it doesn’t choke. However, I would suggest not launching the disk and starting deleting files & apps randomly just to create few GBs of free spaces. It will be good if some homework is done before performing the partition cleansing.

  • Select the partition & hit Command + I. This will only let you know what amount of disk space is occupied or available. Recommended for an overview of the OS X partition.
  • Click Apple Logo<<About This Mac<<More Info<<Storage.

The above is an example of space occupied by data for all partitions, including the OS volume.

Fortunately, my OS partition doesn’t looks cluttered, but for the user who just received “Your Startup Disk is almost full” message would view an otherwise display of the partition OS. The cluttered overview of the OS volume will let you know the reason behind the OS X prompting that message on Mac.

Cleaning Grey Areas of OS disk:Starting from Minor to Major areas that can help achieve free spaces for start-up disk.

  1. Trash:A folder that should be emptied timely, but is left ignored at times.
  2. Login-Items: Login items are not a necessity to be on OS X Mac. Better shut them off. Do so by navigating through System Preferences<<Accounts & Users<<Switch to Login Item tab. Click (-) minus button to remove apps from tray.
  3. Download Folder: Like, Trash folder, the Download folder also faces neglection by the user. Over a period of time, the data inside the Download folder becomes large & unmanageable. Better to empty the download folder once the purpose is solved.
  4. Restart Mac: This minor tip is also helpful for OS X to refresh itself. 

Tips 1 - 4 are quite general in nature and may not have an immediate effect on the disk size. Though minor, they are useful in grabbing few but much needed disk spaces. Now, below are some major tips to remove the waning message “Your Startup Disk is almost full”, from appearing again.

  1. Empty Cache folder: If you don’t care you have a cache folder on Mac OS X, and then calculate how much the caches could have eaten up spaces? To know about the size of the caches, navigate though Macintosh OS<<Library<<Caches folder and hit Command + I. 
  2. Log files: Like the caches, logs too reside on OS X boot disk until they are cleaned. Now, logs are small in size but again, a neglected log folder may accumulate up to near about some GBs of spaces. Since, we are looking for areas where free spaces can be added, it is better to trash unwanted/unused Log files.
  3. Archive old files: If you have moved on to newer data, old files may have become least important for you. What you can do is archive the older data and shift to some removable media and grab free spaces for partition. 
  4. Uninstall Apps: No point of keeping such apps that you do not run or had not run from last 3-6 months. A free tool like Onyx will help you find those apps, which you might want to eliminate. (Please Note that: Onyx is a free tool that speedup the performance of the Mac, however, to analyze disk of the Mac OS X, prefer Disk Utility or some other professional tool).
  5. Duplicates: Willingly or unwillingly, some amount of duplicate data is created on the folders. Use Onyx to locate duplicate files from the OS X partition.
  6. Use a professional tool: If the data size of Mac disk is huge and beyond the scope of human time & effort, then switch to a non-Apple performance booster tool for OS X. Some in the list are:
      • Stellar Speedup Mac ($29, free to download)
      • Macpaw ($39.95, free to download)
      • CleanGenius ($29.95, free to download)

The above-mentioned tools are free to download and display previews of all unwanted apps, data and files to a user. To remove files, all of them require activation code.

Stellar Speedup Mac in action on Startup-Disk claiming almost 3 GB of free spaces & running.

The Mac cleanup software is only recommended when the data on the disk is too huge to handle. Some may agree that, professionals such as video-editor do install large apps, creates new data day-to-day. It becomes somewhat difficult for them to manage partitions and supply them the required free spaces.
However, if the data on your Start-Disk is manageable then follow the above tips to eliminate the warning message “Your Startup Disk is almost full”.