While trying to save a small file to my hard drive, I sometimes get a disk
full message. My operating system is Windows Vista; my hard drive holds 455 GB
and 351 GB are shown as free. The software I’m using when I get the disk full
messages are Word Perfect and Microsoft Works, i.e. small word processing files
and small spreadsheet files. Do you know why I’m getting the disk full messages
or what I could do about it?
In this excerpt from
Answercast #48, I look at a computer that is showing “disk full” when the
disk has lots of space.
Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!
False disk full error
Unfortunately, I don’t. I have a theory.
It really depends on the programs you’re using
specifically. By that I mean, the versions of both Word Perfect and
Incorrect error report
The issue is that I have seen programs that incorrectly report disk errors
of various sorts as “disk full.”
In other words:
The program tries to write a file to the disk;
Something goes wrong;
It’s unclear exactly what goes wrong, but something about writing to the disk
And the program reports essentially “disk full” for everything;
No matter what the real underlying problem is.
So I don’t really have a good way to diagnose this or say anything about it
other than to see if you can identify any patterns in:
What it is you’re saving;
Or how you’re saving it;
Or for that matter, where you’re saving it;
That might help add a clue as to exactly why these programs are having
difficulty saving files to an otherwise empty disk or a disk with a lot of
The other thing that just came to mind that is certainly a possibility,
it’s an obscure one…
If your temporary folder is on a different drive;
And that different drive is running out of space;
It’s possible that the error message actually refers to the program’s
inability to write out a temporary copy of the file to that other drive that
doesn’t have enough room.
That’s something else to look at.
Inability to write the file
And finally, like I said, this error can be caused by just about anything
that could cause an inability to write the file.
- It’s possible (maybe) that some other program has the file open;
- Or that some other program is somehow interfering with your program’s
ability to write the file.
So, I realize that it’s a lot of vague “maybes” that I’m throwing out here,
but unfortunately that’s the kind of scenario that we often face.
Sometimes when it’s clear that there’s plenty of room and the program is
reporting “disk full,” in reality all it’s really saying is, “Something didn’t
work.” There’s no real good additional information to understand what that
“something” is other than paying attention to the patterns that might emerge
The different types of files;
The different types of programs that are running at the same time;
The different places you’re actually saving the file.
Sorry, I don’t have better for you, but that’s about the best I can come up
Next from Answercast 48 – Why are there always programs that don’t respond when Windows is shutting down?