Tag Archives: Startup Disk Full

Your Mac Startup Disk Full

My Mac just got a ‘Startup Disk Full’ Warning. What now?

Your Mac Startup Disk FullThis is a scary message because nobody seems to understand what it means! Apple, in all their ease-of-usefulness, forgot to make this message a little more user-friendly. What this message means in human-speak is that your internal hard drive, which is where all of your data (photos, documents, music, etc.) is stored is now full. VisualizeĀ a 5-gallon bucket for a moment. If you fill this bucket to about 90%, a voice will yell at you saying “Hey, you just filled the bucket up to 90%!” Though this doesn’t sound very problematic, since it’s just a bucket and all, it’s actually a HUGE problem if left unchecked.

What can happen when your startup disk, or bucket, is full is that the computer no longer has any room to perform its operations–it’s almost as if the computer is suffocating and has no more air to breathe. When this happens, the computer simply will get to a point that it will no longer startup, or boot in geekspeak.

At this point when you see the “Startup Disk Full” message, you will want to immediately begin to either back up your data to an external hard drive for safe-keeping, or, begin going through your data and deleting older data that you may no longer need. These files will always start with videos and photos, since they take up the most data, and then into music and documents. Thankfully, Capital Mac can help you figure out what is using all of this data and how to get it safe before it’s lost forever.

Why is my Macintosh booting to a gray screen all of a sudden?

Booting to OS X Gray Screen“I woke up today to turn my computer on and it’s now booting to nothing but either a gray screen, or, a gray screen with the Apple logo and a loading bar at the bottom of the screen.”

During my time with Apple, this was something I heard about umpteen times a day. What it usually means is either a failed hard drive, hard drive cable, or, directory damage that is stopping the unit from booting. Rarely, it’s a problem with the operating system, but, usually it’s one of the first 3. Read more below the fold!
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An easy way to check this out is to force reboot the computer and hold down these 2 keys: COMMAND and the S keys simultaneously, which puts the computer into a mode called “Single User Mode.” This mode will cause the screen to turn black and display a whole bunch of white text, similar to an old DOS computer. When you see this text, you can let go of the keys. At the end of this stream of text, you will eventually get a prompt where you can type on the keyboard. Type this line of text just as you see it, with the spaces between:

fsck -y -f

Hit return on the keyboard and wait. Eventually, it’s going to either pass or fail–if it fails, you will see something that states the Macintosh HD could not be repaired, or maybe disk I/O error in that text. If it fails with either of these faults, you will most likely have to either erase the hard drive, or, replace the hard drive and cable. What you are seeing is directory damage, which can happen to anyone at anytime for any reason and it will prevent the computer from booting. Sometimes, the directory damage will be small and the built-in utility can repair it enough to get you on your way. Otherwise, you would need a higher strength disk utility such as DiskWarrior.

If you are nervous about doing any of this on your own, it’s Capital Mac to the rescue! Contact us for any types of gray screen or stuck at the Apple logo that you may experience on your Macintosh. We’re here to help!

Should I buy a Mac with a solid-state drive or full-sized hard drive?

The hard drive is the storage disk that lives inside your trusty Macintosh. On this hard drive, all of your personal data including files, photos, music, applications, etc. reside, making it an almost endless file cabinet for your needs. Unfortunately, this hard drive is sensitive to knocks, drops, bumps and basic wear and tear. These spinning disks, which look like a small record player, spin approximately 4,000-7,200RPM, depending on the model. Over time, age and general usage will catch up to these devices and cause them to simply fail–usually taking your data down with them. The good point about buying a Mac with a “real” hard drive is the storage angle–these hard drives can store vast amounts of data and usually still have room left over. Apple seems to be on a mission to phase the venerable hard drive out in the coming years, after replacing most computer hard drives with something called a solid-state drive.

Solid-state hard drives have the advantage of having no moving parts inside. This can usually eliminate the damage that goes along with a severe drop of your computer on the floor, or, the general wear and tear of the internal bearings on a traditional hard drive. These SSD drives are small in form and footprint, which allows the computer to become thinner. SSD drives are also lightning fast–a typical Macintosh can boot many times faster than the hard drive of yesterday. The main drawback to these SSD drives is size–they simply aren’t as large as the traditional hard drive, which makes most people using them fill them up almost immediately. Years from now, that will even out due to the lower costs of producing these drives.

This is a hard question to answer and most people will have to look at what they currently have on their hard drive in order to answer the question. Contact Capital Mac service to schedule a consultation to see what type of hard drive is suited to your needs.