“Your startup disk is almost full”

I don’t really know computers that well. I rely on my computer for all of my PhD work, and it stresses me out that I don’t know how to keep my computer running well in times of need. For a long time now, my mac has been giving me a pop-up warning that says, “your startup disk is almost full.” Recently, it has been crashing. I’ve had to get in the habit of saving my large data files every couple of minutes because excel and SPSS (my stats software) are crashing. Microsoft word is crashing. This is terrifying for someone who’s life’s work is wrapped up in these three programs. I back-up to dropbox, but I’m still terrified.

And today I am so frustrated that I cried. I finally got round one of my dissertation data, and I need to clean it and analyze it before collecting the next round of data. My programs won’t stay open long enough to work on analysis. I googled how to clean my startup disk, and it seems that no matter what I delete, no space opens up. My storage is taken up by a category called, “other”. I have no idea what’s taking up my entire hard drive, and I don’t know how to get rid of it. I feel helpless. I am eating chocolate and pouting and hoping that it will miraculously cure itself.

Any help will be gladly accepted.

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10 thoughts on ““Your startup disk is almost full”

  1. There is no way your photos from your phone are making their way onto your hard drive, is there? “Other” is a hard one to fix, because it could literally be anything. Also check your Drop Box settings – I think Drop Box may automatically save a copy of everything onto your hard drive if a certain setting is selected, so maybe you’re just re-saving stuff that you don’t need or already have? Files I frequently clean out are my downloads, cookies, browsing history, etc. I know that’s not super helpful, but those are the first places I would check.

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    • Thanks! Great tip about Dropbox! I just un-synced everything I’m not currently working on. There was a lot there that was automatically saving on my hard drive as well as dropbox! Unfortunately that didn’t make a dent in the space issue. I do frequently empty my downloads folder, and I’ll go empty the others you recommended, too. There must be something bigger behind the scenes though.

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  2. Amy, I am a MAC user. I get this message on occasion but it’s because of the “cloud” that stores all of our Apple stuff collectively as a family. I can’t delete my husband music/audio files so instead, I delete screenshots, saved documents I no longer need, and EMPTY the trash can. It frees up chunks at a time, enough for me to have a few months without getting the message again. It’s also a nice perk when you clean your digital space. You would be surprised how many download and documents end up on your computer from emails, reading, research, etc… I just send them to the trash and them empty my trash.

    Liked by 1 person

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