13 Replies Latest reply: Mar 1, 2008 5:54 AM by Catherine Burgess
Catherine Burgess Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
I bought a Macbook at the end of October last year to replace my old iBook and transferred approx 45GB of data off the iBook to the Macbook using Firewire. It hung initially during this process but seemed to work fine on the 2nd attempt with no visible duplication of files.

I recently went to check how much space I had on the hard drive and discovered to my shock that I had apparently used 104GB of the dive leaving me with only around 8GB of usable disc space. A quick investigation reveals that the 'hard drive' contains 4 folders, Library (7.6GB), System Info (3.8GB), Applications (5.3GB) and Users (which contains, documents, music etc 50.3GB) totaling around 67GB.

So, where is the other 37GB??? I appreciate the operating system will use some but even Leopard surely can't use 37GB! A disk verification suggests there are not lots of corrupted files hanging about from the initial data transfer, I don't use file vault so I shouldn't have the huge file that creates and I have done all the obvious things like emptying the trash.

I have just had a warning that my startup disc is nearly full so I really want to sort this out. I know there are programs you can buy that will show your hidden folders and allow you to delete them but I am reluctant to pay for software just to let me see all the contents of my computer! Especially if there is anything else I can try first.

Macbook, Mac OS X (10.5.2)
  • Catherine Burgess Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    OK - I downloaded a couple of free programs to look at the disk. Disk Inventory X shows 69.5GB of hard drive space used but only seems to show the same files as the finder. Omni Disk Sweeper shows 71.1GB of hard drive used, this matches up with the Finder's estimate of the visible folders and also shows a 2.5GB 'private' file that contains var files, dominated by a 2GB sleep image that I don't think I can/should remove.

    Even with these invisible files there is still 30GB of missing space (and that is allowing for the fact that my 120GB hard drive is only really 111GB).

    Your help would be much appreciated.
  • Kappy Level 10 Level 10 (260,490 points)
    So I'm assuming you have a 120 GB hard drive in your computer (you didn't say specifically, but you said you thought you should have 37 GBs more than the 67 GBs you think is on the drive.)

    Starting out you have a 120 GB hard drive that actually formats to about 111.7 GBs of empty space. The computer has about 16 GBs of data pre-installed - the OS and pre-bundled software - leaving about 94-95 GBs of free space. You then loaded 45 GBs of data from your iBook which should leave about 50 GBs of free pace. Now at this point there's no way to know exactly how much additional data has been saved to the drive but a guess would be at least 5 GBs which should leave about 45 GBs free. However, cache files, temporary files, log files, etc. consume additional space as do invisible files and swap files. Invisible files will not show up using Get Info to measure the amount of data in a folder. So your figure of 67 GBs could easily be off be several GBs.

    If you select your hard drive and open the Get Info window how much space does it say is used? If you open Disk Utility how much space does it say is used? Have you repaired the hard drive, and if so is there any difference in what is reported by Disk Utility and what is reported by Get Info?

    Repairing the Hard Drive and Permissions

    Boot from your OS X Installer disc. After the installer loads select your language and click on the Continue button. When the menu bar appears select Disk Utility from the Installer menu (Utilities menu for Tiger and Leopard.) After DU loads select your hard drive entry (mfgr.'s ID and drive size) from the the left side list. In the DU status area you will see an entry for the S.M.A.R.T. status of the hard drive. If it does not say "Verified" then the hard drive is failing or failed. (SMART status is not reported on external Firewire or USB drives.) If the drive is "Verified" then select your OS X volume from the list on the left (sub-entry below the drive entry,) click on the First Aid tab, then click on the Repair Disk button. If DU reports any errors that have been fixed, then re-run Repair Disk until no errors are reported. If no errors are reported click on the Repair Permissions button. Wait until the operation completes, then quit DU and return to the installer. Now shutdown the computer for a couple of minutes and then restart normally.

    If DU reports errors it cannot fix, then you will need Disk Warrior (4.0 for Tiger, and 4.1 for Leopard) and/or TechTool Pro (4.6.1 for Leopard) to repair the drive. If you don't have either of them or if neither of them can fix the drive, then you will need to reformat the drive and reinstall OS X.
  • Catherine Burgess Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    Thanks. Yes it is a 120GB hard drive and I am allowing for the fact that is really only 111GB (clarified in my 2nd post).

    The 'info' in Finder tells me I have used 103.5GB as does Disk Utility. However the folders within the Hard disk total to just over 67GB (using 'info' in Finder) - that should include any applications bundled with the computer (although I assume not the actual operating system or any invisible files). Using OmniDiskSweeper shows 71GB used which includes the swap files, this still leaves a discrepancy of over 30GB between what the Finder and Disk Utility say is used (103GB) and what I can actually find on the hard drive (71GB).

    I have repaired the disk permissions (which made no difference to the file size) and verified the disk using disk utility and it's OK.

    I really need to locate this missing 30GB because having only 8GB of free space on the startup disk is starting to worry me!
  • Kappy Level 10 Level 10 (260,490 points)
    Do not 'verify' the drive. Do the actual repair. Repairing permissions will not help. Get a maintenance utility like TinkerTool System and use it to clean out caches, log, and temp files.

    Trying to determine actual hard drive space consumption using Get Info or the Finder to add up the space will be woefully inaccurate. Only Get Info's total space used information based on the hard drive is useful. If I add up the displayed info on my System, Library, Applications, and Users folders the total is off by nearly 5 GBs.

    If you have Disk Warrior 4.1 I suggest using it to repair the drive.
  • First Magus Level 6 Level 6 (15,850 points)
    Try using Disk Inventory X or WhatSize to see what is all on your drive. It makes finding everything easy.

    This can also help in what to do.

    The XLab: Freeing space on your Mac OS X startup disk

  • Catherine Burgess Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    I have used Disk Inventory X it finds 69.5GB used and does not appear to show all the hidden files. I have also used Omni Disk Sweeper which finds 71GB used and does include swap files etc. This is about 4GB more than summing the files in the Finder (67GB) as I would expect.

    However, it is still 30GB short of the 103GB that both Finder and Disk Utility say I have used. Even allowing 10GB for the OS, that's still a lot of space.

    I have downloaded WhatFile but it will only locate 20GB of data unless you pay for a licence and I am not keen to do that if it will just show me the same as Omni Disk Sweeper.

    I have already verified the disk using Disk utility and it tells me that the disk is OK (not the permissions, the actual disk). When I bought the laptop it was loaded with 10.4 and I got 10.5 on a DVD so would I use the 10.4 disks or the 10.5 one to boot from? I am terrified of booting from the disks in case I loose data or mess up the OS - it's backed up using Time Machine and an external hard drive but it would be a huge amount of hassle.

    I know there are various ways to free up a few GB by removing languages etc, if I have to I'll take off some of my data but I really want to free up that 20 or so GB that I'm not actually using!
  • Kappy Level 10 Level 10 (260,490 points)
    I wouldn't be worried about removing files until you are satisfied that the question about missing space has been resolved. If this is a problem of disk directory corruption then deleting files will not help and may make the situation worse.

    As I cautioned do not "verify" but "repair" the drive.
  • Catherine Burgess Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    OK - I've used the install DVD and run Repair Disk in Disk Utilities, it didn't find any problems to repair and Disk Utility and the Finder still show 103GB used.

    I'm completely stuck for ideas on how to track down this space.
  • Kappy Level 10 Level 10 (260,490 points)
    Well, either you've put more files on the drive than you can account for or there's a problem with the drive which doesn't seem to be the case. I can only suggest that if you have an external Firewire drive that you erase the external drive then clone your internal drive to the external drive. If you end up with less than 100 GBs of data on the external drive then you can boot from the external drive, erase the internal drive and then clone everything back. Hopefully, the missing space will be recovered.
  • Catherine Burgess Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    OK, thanks. My external drive currently has my Time Machine backups on (4 months worth of those total 78GB) - I don't want to wipe those as it is useful to be able to trace the changes to the system through time. So, can I restore from that or would I need to get another drive to put a clone on? I don't know how a clone differs from a backup (or how to make one) but I assume it it is more comprehensive and would include all the programmes ets.

    Is this realistically something should attempt myself or would I be able to get someone to do it for me (the MacBook is still covered by Apple Care)?
  • Kappy Level 10 Level 10 (260,490 points)
    Unless you were willing to give up your TM backups you would need to get another external drive. If you take the computer to an Apple authorized service center they can certainly check it out for you.
  • Catherine Burgess Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    Just thought I'd let people know what the problem was and how it got fixed in the end case it helps someone else.

    I spent another hour on the phone with AppleCare today and they got me to use terminal to check the file sizes (type: sudo du -cxha 1 / and enter your password). We found that the discrepancy was in users folder (Finder and Omni disk sweeper said 50.4 GB, terminal said 82 GB!).

    My users folder contained a mysterious 'noindex' file that was claiming to contain 4.5GB. We then used the Directory Utility to create a Root User, logged out of my user name and into the Root user. Now when you sized the 'noindex' file it was 36GB!! It appeared to be a copy of all my documents from the migration of my old computer to my new one in early November (none of which were visible when I was logged in to my own user account), obviously the result of it hanging the first time I tried to migrate the data.

    It seems that the data had got stuck on the hard drive but outside my user account (the only account on the system) so I couldn't see or access it (even though I was the administrator and only user).

    Solution was; Drag this 'noindex' file to the trash. Empty trash. Log back in to my own user account and use Directory Utility again to disable the Root User.

    Problem solved. Hard drive now has 67GB used, 44GB free space remaining

    The only problem now is that this stupid 'noindex' folder is still stuck in my Time Machine backups and I can't delete it because I can't amend 'backups' so it is still wasting 36GB of that disc. Annoying but I guess not as critical as have no hard disc space on the actual computer.
  • Catherine Burgess Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    Solution in my last post of the thread. Figured out my a fantastic guy called Kevin at AppleCare phone support!