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Windows 7: How full is too full for a hard drive?

23 Jul 2015   #1

Windows 7
How full is too full for a hard drive?

When I bring up 'computer" (Windows + E) I've noticed that the bar graph showing how relatively full an external hard drive is is colored blue-green. But whenever there is less than 10 percent of the drive space free that bar turns red.

That made some sense for a drive with a few hundred gigabytes (although I don't understand the technical reasons) because I assume there needs to be a minimum amount of free space for the system to be able to do whatever manipulation of those files might be required, such as defragmenting the drive (something I've never done in decades).

However with a 4 terabyte drive the system says it is over 90 percent full when there is still over 350 gigabytes still available. That's a huge amount of space, as big as some drive C's on some computers, so I've been ignoring the red bar, but still keeping an eye on those hard drives that have it.

Does anyone have information on how much space should really be left unused on a hard drive? I hate to overfill a drive, yet also don't see the point in pulling a drive for storage with 200 or 300 gigabytes still available on it. Any advice (with sound reasons) appreciated.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Jul 2015   #2

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1

Defrag is done automatically when the PC is idle in Windows 7, you can also start it manually of course.

There is a tutorial or some such I remember seeing here to adjust when the bar turns red. I will try to find it.

Edit: Here it is low disc space partition color

It is not exactly setting the %, but disabling the coloring all together though. Can't find an exact answer to your question though. See if you will like the above solution.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Jul 2015   #3
Lady Fitzgerald

Win 7 Ultimate 64 bit

The figures I've seen for HDD free space is 10-15% (20-25% for SSDs). You could get away with less IF your data is static (you only read it and never make any changes or deletions once you put it on the HDD) but I don't recommend it. I've always felt better safe than sorry.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

23 Jul 2015   #4

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1

I am with Jeannie on those free space figures.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Jul 2015   #5

Windows 7 Pro 64 bit

A defrag requires about 10% free space to operate efficiently. It will work with less but more slowly, and in some cases it could fail. That free space recommendation was once 15%. SSDs need free space for different reasons.

You really should keep about 10% free space.

It doesn't seem to matter how large drives become, people somehow manage to fill them.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Jul 2015   #6

W10 Pro desktop, W10 laptop, W10 Pro tablet (all 64-bit)

I would look at the disk space coloring turning red as an "early warning system" of sorts, telling you that you will soon need more disk space. If a 4TB disk drive has only 350GB left, it's a good bet that your data storage needs are such that you need more disk space.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Jul 2015   #7

Windows 7

Thanks GokAy and others who replied. I don't see much value in getting rid of the red bar. I see it as a reminder that I'm working on the last 10 percent of free space on the drive.

I was just wondering which was more important, the percentage of free space or the absolute amount of free space. Getting a ten percent raise is nice if you're making $50,000 a year but it's much nicer if you're making $10 million a year. You can do a lot more with the extra million dollars than you can with an extra $5,000.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 How full is too full for a hard drive?

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