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What to do if your SSD is full

The benefits of SSDs, such as their lightning-fast speeds, durability and compact form factor, have changed the storage industry. However, despite their advantages, older SSDs often come with some limitations, such as limited storage capacity. The operating system needs around 20% of the SSD space to be free for it to function properly. If you find yourself with a “Disk Full” error message or experiencing poor performance due to insufficient space on your SSD, you’re not the only one! Here are some practical tips and solutions to assist you in making space on an SSD.

Find and remove large files

There will always be files on your SSD that are too large, or you don’t particularly want any more. A way to find these is by using built-in disk clean-up tools on your operating system, such as “Disk Cleanup” on Windows, or third-party software to clear files and free up storage. Most, if not all, operating systems will have one. We recommend WinDerStat for Windows and GrandPerspective for macOS. They will scan your SSD or just a directory on it, and then show a graphic representation of the files. The larger the rectangle, the larger the file size. Then hover over the rectangles to see the file name and size.

The files in question can then be reviewed and then deleted if no longer needed. Additionally, there is a manual approach to free up space. Disk cleanup may not propose removing files in the Document, Videos, Pictures or Download folders, so you’ll need to delete them manually. After doing so, don’t forget to empty the Recycle Bin. If you have large files that you don't need direct access to, consider moving them to an external SSD, network drive or cloud storage. This can help free up space on your SSD while keeping your files accessible.

Be cautious when deleting files and ensure you don't remove anything important. If you do, there are some tips on how you can recover deleted files on Windows and MacOS.

Application management

Another solution you could try is to review the applications installed on your computer and uninstall any that you no longer use or need. If you didn’t use it for a while, the chances are you don’t need it. This can help reclaim space taken up by unnecessary software and can also help increase your computer's performance. All installed applications use RAM space and uninstalling unused apps will clear up your memory and increase your speed.

To review the applications installed on your Windows system:

  1. Press “Windows + I” to get into Windows Settings.
  2. Click on the “System” tab.
  3. Click on “Storage”, this will show you your local C drive’s apps and features, desktop, videos, temporary files, and others.
  4. Click on “Apps and features” and a list of installed applications will be shown on the next page.
  5. Here, you can uninstall any apps that you no longer use or need.

Garbage collection and TRIM

SSDs are organised into cells, pages, blocks, dies, and chips. Write operations occur on the page level, however due to the nature of NAND flash, erase operations can only occur on the block level. This means that data in a specific page cannot be overwritten, but the SSD firmware has to perform what is referred to as a read-modify-write. If data in a specific page must be overwritten, all the old data are read and rewritten to a new block. This process is expensive in terms of write amplification and performance degradation.

TRIM is an instruction within the ATA (Advanced Technology Attachment) interface. It came along to help SSDs recognise unused blocks of data and deallocate them, to make way for new writes. This can happen transparently in the background if files are deleted or moved. The NVMe equivalent of TRIM is the dataset management command.

Disable hibernation and system restore

The functionalities of hibernation and system restore can occupy a considerable portion of storage space. To reclaim the disk space used by the hibernation file, you have the option to disable hibernation and reduce the allocated space for system restore points if required. It’s important to note, disabling these features may restrict your ability to recover data or put your computer into a low-power state.

To do this, in Windows; simply press the Windows key, type and click on "Command Prompt" application and choose "Run as Administrator". Type “Powercfg.exe /hibernate off”. Then type “Exit” and enter to close the “Command Prompt”.

Upgrade your SSD

If you've tried the above steps and still need more space, you might consider upgrading your SSD to a larger capacity drive. If your system permits, and if you haven’t already, an NVMe SSD could be the perfect upgrade. As well as receiving a boost in storage, you’ll also have access to increased speeds, improved performance, and superior power efficiency.

Kingston’s KC3000 NVMe M.2 SSD utilises the latest Gen 4x4 NVMe controller and 3D TLC NAND technology to deliver exceptional results. By upgrading your storage, you can seamlessly handle demanding workloads and enjoy superior speeds with remarkable read/write speeds of up to 7,000MB/s. This SSD ensures optimised workflow in high performance desktop and laptop PCs. It is specifically designed for power users who demand nothing but the fastest speeds available in the market.


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