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The Mystery of Disappearing Disk Space

13745 Views 15 Replies Latest reply: Nov 21, 2013 8:20 PM by Benjamin Eldredge RSS
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baxblue Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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Sep 13, 2012 10:24 AM

Very new to the forum, appreciate any help.

 

I know this topic (or variants of) have been posted in the support community, some going back quite a ways but I have yet to find an answer.  Maybe I have not looked in the right place.

 

To start, I have a 15” MBP, mid-2009, 500GB HD, 3.06 Ghz Core 2 Duo, 4 GB 1067 MHz DDR3, running Mt Lion 10.8.  I am using Time Machine to back up, one disk on the desktop connected to MBP and the other comes out every 2 or 3 weeks, then back into a fire proof safe.

 

Background: last week, I got Apple TV and subscribed to iTunes Match, thinking I could recapture some HD space by removing 4 seasons of Fringe and about 20 movies as I am making more room for 1000’s of photos to be edited in Photoshop CS6 and Aperture.

 

I deleted the iTunes files above; only to find out that the available HD space had gone down from 139GB to 132GB.  Not the right direction.  I should have easily recovered 130GB to 150GB at least.

 

1st trip to the Apple Genius Bar, I was told everything checked out fine.  The volume was verified via disk utility, and after poking around for sometime he said that perhaps “About This Mac” “Storage” tab was reporting faulty data and that I needed to reinstall MT Lion.  If that did not work I was to “erase” my HD and perform a “recover” from Time Machine.  For me, this was pretty drastic but went home and reinstalled MT Lion.  This did not solve the issue so I stopped.

 

After searching this forum, I discovered, downloaded and ran, Disk Inventory (DIX).  It revealed that I had over 150GB in the infamous “folders occupied by other files and folders”, all, which I could not find on the HD.  Further searches online, revealed possible causes could be related to “sparse tables”, “time-machines local snapshots”, etc.  At this point, it is over my head and went back to a different Genius Bar (we have two in St. Louis) for another opinion.

 

While he was poking around my system, I told him, one thing was also ways odd to me after moving from SL to Lion and MT Lion, was that in both Lion and MT Lion, whenever I deleted a file, a window always popped up asking for my password to trash any file.  I would enter the password and the file was immediately trashed.  Trash can was empty.  Per that discussion, he then verified disk permissions (which revealed issues) via the recovery disk in Mt Lion and also turned on the hidden files. After a while, he discovered some type of trash file was holding the ~150GB.  He deleted it, made some other changes via terminal, restarted and viola, all the disk space was back.  The trash now work properly on the desk top, in that when I delete something it goes to the trash-can and if I erase deleted items in the trash can, it empties, or so it appears.

 

The problem is that after I returned home and did some further trimming of Aperture projects, the symptoms are back.  After running DIX, “folders occupied by other files and folders” now continues to grow anytime I trash some files, even though the desktop trash can is empty.

 

The guy at the genius bar seemed to find (and delete) the offending file/s but not necessarily the cause.  I am hoping that someone really familiar with how MT Lion operates can shed some light onto this. Sure, I can keep going back to the Genius Bar when I need more disk space and they can dig into the terminal and delete these files, but why is it happening and what is the solution.

 

Thank in advance,

MacBook Pro, OS X Mountain Lion (10.8.1)
  • macjack Level 9 Level 9 (50,445 points)
  • macjack Level 9 Level 9 (50,445 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 13, 2012 11:17 AM (in response to baxblue)

    Is this what FInder, reports? What happens if you empty the trash, force quit FInder and then relaunch.

    Does Disk Inventory agree? Also, does Disk Utility agree with the free space?

  • macjack Level 9 Level 9 (50,445 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 13, 2012 12:11 PM (in response to baxblue)

    Actually I was trying to see if the descepency was the way Finder was reporting as opposed to Disk Utiltiy.

     

    Since, I don't use DIsk Inventory, I'm at loss as to how it reports. "Folders occupied by other files and folders" is certainly non-descript. Is there any way to drill down into them and see what they are?

  • macjack Level 9 Level 9 (50,445 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 13, 2012 12:27 PM (in response to baxblue)

    Yes, I need to test that one out. I have OmniDiskSweeper which is much the same from description.

    Local Snapshots would be in Backup on your "About this MAc" > more info. It could be log files, or a particular log file gone bonkers.

     

    Try Onyx at the presets for basic cache and log cleaning.

  • j-m-i Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Mar 21, 2013 1:42 AM (in response to baxblue)

    This applies in Lion and ML

     

    If your disk space is showing up mostly as other and you have enabled/disabled Time machine in the past I recommend using terminal to ls -a on your computers root directory /    Here you may see a folder called .MobileBackups.trash.  When Time machine is disabled it moves all previous local snapshots in here.  Sometimes it fails to delete them and the space fills up.  You can delete them safely.

     

    Here is the list of commands to check for and delete.

     

    OPEN TERMINAL, type commands in bold:

     

    cd /

    ls -a

    *Look for .MobileBackups.trash -- if it exists run the following commands:

    sudo chmod -Rf 777 .MobileBackups.trash    *will take awhile to complete*

    sudo rm -rf .MobileBackups.trash *will take awhile to complete*

    ls -a

    *.MobileBackups.trash should be gone*

     

    After this check your disk storage space and there should be some space freed up.

  • andeqoo Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
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    Apr 6, 2013 1:18 AM (in response to baxblue)

    *Same problem

     

    The last time TM was backing up my computer i noticed that space was disappearing from...my computer.

    i wasnt doing anything that would cause more disk space to be used and yet it was disappearing to the point where i had ~50MB of space left.

    Deleted a bunch of stuff thought i was fine- 20GB left. That was about a week ago, i havent used tm since, turned off auto backups and have not possibly generated 20gb of content since then and yetScreen Shot 2013-04-06 at 3.13.52 AM.png

     

    and:

     

    Screen Shot 2013-04-06 at 3.14.06 AM.png

     

     

     

    and not even a few minutes later

     

    Screen Shot 2013-04-06 at 3.15.36 AM.png

     

    those 3 screenshots are the only additions to my disk space that i have made. i have firefox terminal and system preferences open. nothin.

    no idea whats going on but im loosing space for every second that im doing nothing on this computer....

    help?

  • andeqoo Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 6, 2013 11:02 AM (in response to baxblue)

    haylp

    looked into it some more-

    if backupd is the only time machine process that does work for time machine

    and if .mobilbackups is the only place where time machine stores that information,

    then according to activity monitor and terminal (as root  (sudo -i)) that is not the cause of my mysterious my problem :-(

  • andeqoo Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 6, 2013 11:31 AM (in response to baxblue)

    i was going to combine these screenshots into a single file but i literally have 0bytes of space left on this hard drive so i obviously cant

    this is exciting!

     

    Screen Shot 2013-04-06 at 12.54.20 PM.png

    Screen Shot 2013-04-06 at 12.54.41 PM.png

    Screen Shot 2013-04-06 at 12.54.50 PM.png

    and then about 10 minutes later...

    and then about 10 minutes later...

    and then about 10 minutes later...

    and then about 10 minutes later...

    and then about 10 minutes later...

     

     

    Screen Shot 2013-04-06 at 1.03.33 PM.png

     

    Screen Shot 2013-04-06 at 1.03.41 PM.png

     

     

    Screen Shot 2013-04-06 at 1.03.43 PM.png

     

     

    so those are the processes that were running and thats how much they changed in 10 minutes!

    Who murdered my hard drive space- where were they doing it, how'd they do it and why!

     

    It's a true mystery!

  • andeqoo Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 6, 2013 11:39 AM (in response to andeqoo)

    and this wouldnt be a problem if i could just back up my hard drive and reinstall ml

    but i cant do that because time machine is evil

    and i wouldnt want to at this point because for all i know it could be infectious and could spread to my other computer! whether it's a bug in ML itself or a virus that serves no purpose other than to eat hard disk space (like a cookie monster :-P ) I do not have the expertise to say- All i can say is that it seems like a bad idea

     

    Technology is fun.

  • mollivan Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 30, 2013 9:07 AM (in response to j-m-i)

    Thanks. That's exactly what I needed.

     

    I'd used the Migration Assistant to bring all my users and Applications, etc., across onto a new Mac from a Time Machine backup. Then, since I'd been having some quirky issues with my main user on the old machine, I deleted that user and recreated it manually, dragging across just the content I wanted. At the end of this process, I had over 100 GB of perplexingly unusable but allededly available disk space. It stopped me from copying across my Aperture library.

     

    After finding this thread, I discovered that the space was all bound up in .MobileBackups.trash. Perhaps it was left over from the TimeMachine backup of the deleted user. After I deleted it in the Terminal, things have been fine.

  • Costas Synolakis Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 29, 2013 12:17 AM (in response to j-m-i)

    I have the same issue with disappearing disk space  with 10.8.5 macbook pro - over 20GB/hr is getting lost, and I am down to literally zero. Have backed up files three times today opening up abou 40GB every time. Tried the fix j-m-i outlined - actually cut and pasted the commands listed - couldn't find the backups.trash files in the directory. Yet my problem sounds like  a time machine issue, disabled it anyway, since it started once I did my first backup; interestingly the evil window about backing up appears every time I introduce a new external disk for backups, which I did exactly to avoid the time machine in the first place.

     

    Any ideas what else it may be ? How can "stuff" be generated internally at a rate of 20GB/hr ? Who did this ?

     

    What is worse, is that I can't install the new free update, because there is no space. I am even scared to shut the laptop down . Did I mention that I was trying to rebuild mailboxes to save space, and mail kept crashing loosing messages...

     

    Thanks in advance for any help.

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