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Ask Max: Hard Drive Partitions and OS X

Asked on 05/26/2006:

I have always partitioned my drive into three, keeping the boot partition the smallest. I thought 6.33 gig would be enough in OSX, but, although I have very little more in that partition than what came with it, I frequently get a notice that it's nearly full. Right now it says there's 595MB space left. Two weeks ago there was over 1GB of free space. I haven't added anything to it.

What would be the simplest way to increase the size of that partition? I have plenty to spare in the other two partitions. MacAddict once talked about some software that would increase the size of a partition without striping the hard drive or losing anything. Know anything about that?

Right now the Get Info on all three partitions says it was created in April 1976, due to some corruption of the drive software I once experienced.Any ideas? I got the G4 from you guys. I'm not sure what the hard drive size is. Now I'm running Tiger with 1280 RAM.


What you are experiencing with your shrinking OS partition is a common symptom that often goes unnoticed in the era of large hard drives. Mac OS X uses a portion of your hard drive to hold data that was in RAM but needs to be stored temporarily so it can load more information into RAM. What OS X does is create invisible files called Swap Files. Each time it runs out of space in a Swap File it makes a new one. When you restart your computer it erases all your old swap file... hopefully. The more RAM you have the more Swap File space gets used. If after restart your drive is still full than repairing disk permissions from Disk Utility and then restarting could help.

As for changing your partition size without damaging data, it can be done. PC users have been able to change partition sizes for years with PartitionMagic. For the most part it is safe and effective but always back up your data whenever working on a hard drive. As for the Mac software I know of a couple but have not used them myself. I will mention them but you should evaluate the software for yourself.

DiskStudio – From MicroMat, which is a trusted company and the maker of TechTool Pro.

VolumeWorks – I do not know this company but it looks to be well liked product.

Let me know what you chose to use and how you like it.

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