What to do when C drive is getting full in Windows Server 2008 R2?

Why C drive getting full automatically

The most common issue in Windows Server 2008 is about low disk space – the system C drive is getting full automatically after running the server for a period of time. When less than 200MB free space left, you’ll receive Low Disk Space warning, it means this issue is urgent and you should fix it as soon as possible. Many people feedback they do not know what to do in this situation, so here I want to share some experience how to get out of the trouble of C drive full in Windows Server 2008 (R2).

C drive full server 2008

About the reason, it is related to the way Windows operating system working – to fix bugs, add new feature and keep away from virus or other danger, Operating System download and install updates continuously. It also create many types of files in daily usage, such as log files, temp files, system backup and hibernation files, browser caches. Another discussed behavior in Microsoft platform is about default installation path. Every applications install to C drive by default, some files still write into C drive even if you set to install other partition. Further more,  If you delete files without pressing Shift, the files discarded to Recycle Bin which use part of space in C drive.

The risk of C drive becomes full in a server

If C drive becomes full, it causes many problems, such as:

  1. There is not enough free space to accommodate all your needs, such as software update/upgrade, install programs.
  2. Windows operating system runs much slower, stuck or reboot unexpectedly.
  3. Windows may crash if the free space is extremely low.

So you’d better fix C drive full issue in Server 2008 as fast as possible.

What to do when C drive becomes full

Two choices: reclaim free space by freeing up disk, or extend C drive directly. If you can free up large amount of free space, you can solve this problem without doing anything else. But in most cases, you cannot get enough free space, especially when system C drive was created too small. In this case, the best idea is expanding C drive with free space in other drives.

Option 1 – Free up disk space

About freeing up disk space in Windows Server 2008, the best tool is Windows built-in Disk Cleanup utility. It is able to find out and delete many type of unused files. Of course you may use some 3rd party software, but I think they are not cost-effective.

It is very easy to free up space:

  1. Open Windows Explorer or My Computer.
  2. Right click C drive and click Properties.
  3. Click Disk Cleanup.
  4. Click the check-box in front of the files you want to clean.
  5. Clean system files in same window.

Option 2 – Add more free space into C drive

As I said above, if you cannot free up plenty of space or C drive was created too small, you’d better expand C drive, otherwise you’ll see C drive full in near future. As long as there is free space in any other drives of the same disk, you can transfer to C drive to increase its partition size. Steps to expand C drive:

Step 1: Download and install NIUBI Partition Editor, right click drive D: and click “Resize/Move Volume“.

Extend volume

Step 2: In the pop-up window, drag the left border rightwards to take free space out from D.

Shrink d drive

Drag to resize

Click OK and back to the main window, 20GB Unallocated space that take from D created behind C: drive.

Volume shrank

Step 3: Right click C drive and select “Resize/Move Volume” again, in the pop-up window, drag the right border rightwards to hold the Unallocated space.

Extend C drive

Extend volume

Click OK and back to the main window, 20GB free space added into C drive. Press Apply on top left to execute, done!

Volume extended

As you see, it is very easy to solve this problem when C drive becomes full in Windows Server 2008. If there is not enough free space in D, you can take free space from any other drive in the same disk, check the video.

Video guide to add free space to C drive from other volumes

(Recommend full screen by clicking the square at bottom right of this video)

In Summary

When system C drive is getting full in Windows Server 2008 (R2), try to free up disk space or add more free space to C drive. If you cannot free up large amount of space or C drive was created too small, you’d better expand C drive, otherwise, you’ll see C drive becomes full in near future.

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