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Ask Max: Mac mini missing disk space!

Asked on 11/02/2006:

First let me say, I really enjoy and look forward to your newsletter articles. Keep 'em coming. BACKGROUND:I purchased an Intel Mac mini from PowerMax back in April to mirror (backup) my MySql database for photographs. The database is actually on at Lacie 250 HD (and on a webserver) interfaced through the mini. The workflow has me moving batches of photos containing 10 to 50 (55mg) tiff files and a set of 3 duplicate Jpeg files (for web use) to the mini where a php script puts the files in appropriate folders and another script zips up the package to send to the server and the Mysql database on the drive attached to the mini.PROBLEM:After moving 1000 images in 42 batches, I found my hard drive space on the mini was down to about 1 GB of available space. Bear in mind, the mini is designated to the task described above so there is no music, movies or even an email account on the computer. I've been careful to remove the quite large batches of photos (up 4 gb sometimes) after performing the operations described above. Naturally, I've searched extensively for any reservoirs of data (large or small) on the surface and even (with help from a friend) searched for hidden directories through the terminal. Based on calculation of system requirements, application use, and comparison to another mini serving a similar function we estimate that 35 to 40 GBs on the mini are unavailable and unaccounted for. QUESTIONS:Do you have any ideas based on this brief description and does your technical team at Powermax have any special tools or techniques to tackle this sort of problem? Any information you can provide will be greatly appreciated. I'm stumped.Thanks in advance.


It may be a long shot, but "swap files" could be eating up your drive space. As you probably know, the swap file is a section of hard drive set aside for temporarily moving data out of the RAM and storing it until the RAM is free. When you are moving large files you could end up filling that file and forcing the OS to create a new swap file without deleting the old one. You can check it by clicking on the desktop and then going to the "Go" menu. From the Go menu select "Go to Folder..." In the text box type "/var/vm" without the quote marks and click on the "Go" button. That will take you to the folder containing the swap files. If you have more than a few files there then you should check their size. Most often a restart will clear these files and free up some space but something could have failed with that process.Let me know if that solves it.

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