Free up space in Windows Server 2003

"Low Disk Space" is common disk space usage problem in Windows Server 2003 all editions, many people don't know how to remove low disk space warning or fix this issue, so in this article, I want to give some hints maybe a "complete solution".

Windows Server 2003 low disk space

Windows created the "Low Disk Space" warning to alert computer users when their hard drive is running low on available disk space. It also gives you a shortcut to free space by deleting old or unnecessary files.

Low disk space

When the system C: drive running out of disk space, it causes many problems, such as:

  • You cannot install Windows update and expose the server to dangerous situation.
  • No free space to install server services or applications.
  • Server reboot unexpectedly.
  • System crash when free space is extremely low.

You'd better fix this problem as fast as possible, otherwise, you'll loss vital files and customers, wasting days to start from scratch.

Steps to solve this problem

To fix this problem completely, 3 main steps you need to do.

  1. Find out which files eat up your free disk space.
  2. Free up space in Windows 2003 Server and get some precious free space.
  3. Resize partitions and extend system C: drive.
  4. Change the way you use computers.

The most important step is freeing up disk space, after getting some free space you can solve this serious problem temporarily.

Besides Windows updates, 3rd party program setup and applications data, many other files also consume the disk space, such as:

  • Windows installation caches, reports, logs and temporary files.
  • Windows backup and restore points.
  • Browser caches and temporary files.
  • Caches and waste of videos and music.
  • Invalid or lost registries and DLLs.
  • Large amount of files on desktop or in Recycle Bin.

After finding out these files, you'll know how to free up disk space.

Free up space in Windows Server 2003

Please note, freeing up disk space costs a long time, if you have no such time to do this, you may jump to step 3 (extend C drive), so free up space later.

First step, transfer files to other partition or delete the unused files in desktop, and then empty Recycle Bin.

Free up space with Windows Disk Cleanup

Open up "My Computer", right click the partition (common C) you want to free up space, and select "Properties". In first "General" tab, click "Disk Cleanup".

Disk cleanup

After a couple of minutes, you will see a list of options which files can be deleted safely. The options range from deleting files to compressing old files.

Compress files

You may tick "Compress drive to save disk space" option in previous window or "Compress old files" in current window to compress files and release some free space. (This has relationship with cluster size, file system and your file type/amount, etc. I'll explain later in other articles)

Generally speaking, you can free up large amount of disk space.

Move page files

Right click "My Computer" > "Properties", switch to tab "Advanced" > Settings under Performance > Advanced > Change.

Page files

Paging file is an area on your hard disk where Windows uses it as if it were a RAM. Usually, this paging file is located in your C drive and takes up to 1 or more GB. It is ideal to place this file in the C drive instead of other drives because it is faster to access it from C. Having said that, this is not a recommended step but it works.

Please note, this option requires reboot.

Disable Hibernation

Hibernation doesn't come cheap – it requires at least 512MB depending on your system. If you enabled this option, disable it and more free disk space was freed up.


Delete Browser temp files

There are several main browsers and the option to delete files are different, I cannot give all steps, this is an example in Microsoft Internet Explorer.

IE browser

Last step, check if there are files in "My Documents" and "Download" folder, especially large music or video files. To other files listed above, you may free up space with HDD optimize utility or just ignore, because you cannot get large amount of free space.

Steps after freeing up disk space

As I said above, spending a long time freeing up space you can get some free space again in the C: drive, however, you cannot get GBs of free space and shortly the low disk space alert pops up again. If the system C drive is too small, I suggest resizing partitions and extend the C drive. For detailed steps, refer how to resize Server 2003 partitions.

To completely solve this problem, you have to consider:

  • Change the way you use your hard drives. Many geeks like to keep their data separate from the operating system. This makes it easier to make backups of the data on the D: partition, and easier to replace or reinstall the operating system on C:
  • Change default download and cache path of the applications to another data drive.
  • Delete caches and temporary files regularly.

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2 Responses to Free up space in Windows Server 2003

  1. Pingback: C: drive is full or out of space, what to do?

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