My motorcycle has a pretty cool feature. It has a reserve fuel tank. When the main fuel tank runs out, the engine sputters a little, and then switches to the reserve tank and a blinking logo appears on my dashboard. My car has only run out of gas twice, ever. Both times, I wish it had a darn reserve fuel tank, just like my motorcycle has.
Years ago, a colleague of mine, Dan Dapkus (whom I’m beginning to think of as more of a mentor lately) made a suggestion to me, regarding server hard drive space: “Always keep 500 MB in the trash. When you run out of HDD space, you can dump the trash and instantly regain 500 MB”. My first response to this was, “No, that is dumb. If you keep the recycle bin empty, then you will already have that 500 MB available to you and the HDD would not be full. Keeping 500 MB will simply fill the HDD quicker”.
I didn’t fully appreciate the genius of his suggestion until several months later, I had a server run out of HDD. Some of the apps stopped functioning. I had to regain some space immediately! I dumped a few log folders and some old service packs. It wasn’t enough. The server was starved for space and gobbled up the new free space immediately. I was starting to feel a sense of panic coming-on. I felt pretty angry towards the guy who maintained these servers. That slacker should have been monitoring this and purchased more disk last month but he didn’t. He probably had some lame excuse, like not having enough budget or something. Any excuse would be unacceptable right now. I wasn’t freeing up drive space fast enough and it was making me more agitated by the second.
I was considering whether I should do something more drastic, like shrink the swap file (virtual memory) or start uninstalling some apps and drivers that didn’t seem critical. Then it occurred to me to check the recycle bin. I found that Dan had out-smarted me and left 500MB in the recycle bin of that server. I dumped it and breathed a deep sigh of relief. Now, there was plenty of HDD space. I should be safe for a week or maybe two. That should be enough time to get a new HDD and install it without an emergency outage.
After I submitted an overnight order for another HDD, I went to Dan and humbly thanked him for leaving that lump in the trash. It spared me an hour or two of panicked deletes (probably very dangerous). He laughed and said that he felt good to hear that I get it now.
Take my word for it: When you run out of drive space on your server, you DO NOT want to make panicked deletes to free up space. Always keep 500MB in your recycle bin (or emergency delete folder). If you ever run out of space, it will be like a reserve-fuel-tank (of HDD space) for your server. Just dump it and spend your day calmly making good decisions about files to clear and purchasing HDD upgrades.