How to fix C drive running out of space on Windows Server 2008 (R2)


Why C drive runs out of space in Server 2008

Many people feedback their Windows Server 2008 C drive is running out of disk space but do not know the best solution. Yes, low disk space is the most common issue in ALL Windows operating system. Even for the experienced server administrators, C drive runs out of space is bothersome indeed. If start from scratch to back up, recreate partitions and restore back, the whole weekend maybe wasted. During this operation, the server disconnect with users.

When there is not enough free space in C drive, the partition shows red when you open My Computer.

C drive out of space

Windows also give you an alert on bottom left, asking you to free up disk space.

Server 2008 low disk space

It is easy to understand, many types of files write to C drive every day, especially when there are many large files, of course C drive runs out of free space very quickly. The files include:

  1. Windows updates, system restore point, hibernation and page file, which are in large size.
  2. Logs, temp, cache, browser .etc, which are in small size but produce continuously to large amount.
  3. 3rd-party applications, which install to C drive by default, even if you install to other drive, some files go to C drive forcedly.
  4. All files deleted without pressing Shift go to Recycle Bin, which is in C drive.

Even if the C drive is created large to 100GB when building the server, it runs out of free space sooner or later. When C drive running out of space on Windows 2008 Server, the best idea is freeing up space and then increase C drive disk space. After reading this page, you’ll know what to do.

Risk of C drive out of free space

When C drive running low on disk space, you cannot install Windows updates or applications. Some Windows services such as backup stop working. C drive full also cause operating system running much slower, stuck, reboot unexpectedly or even crash. So you’d better fix this issue as soon as possible.

What to do when C drive running out of disk space

When C drive is running out of space, especially when Low Disk Space warning pops up, it means the server is in dangerous situation. The first choice is freeing up space with Windows built-in Disk Cleanup to reclaim some vital free space, bringing the server back to the right way.

Free up space on Server 2008

To free up disk space in Windows Server 2008, there are many options: 3rd-party optimization software, Windows Disk Cleanup, delete files manually. I always suggest to this with Disk Cleanup.

Option 1 – Windows built-in Disk Cleanup

The Disk Cleanup executable file cleanmgr.exe and the associated Disk Cleanup button are not present in Windows Server 2008 (R2) by default. There are two ways to enable the Disk Cleanup tool:

  1. Installing the Desktop Experience. Go to Programs & Features, and in the Features section, enable/install “Desktop Experience”.  By this way, you will need to reboot your server after installing and it installs other components you may do not need on this server.
  2. Copy some files that are already located on your server into specific system folders.
 Operating System Architecture File Location
 Windows Server 2008 R2 64 bit C:\Windows\winsxs\amd64_microsoft-windows-cleanmgr_31bf3856ad364e35_6.1.7600.16385_none_c9392808773cd7da\cleanmgr.exe
 Windows Server 2008 R2 64 bit C:\Windows\winsxs\amd64_microsoft-windows-cleanmgr.resources_31bf3856ad364e35_6.1.7600.16385_en-us_b9cb6194b257cc63\cleanmgr.exe.mui
 Windows Server 2008 64 bit C:\Windows\winsxs\amd64_microsoft-windows-cleanmgr.resources_31bf3856ad364e35_6.0.6001.18000_en-us_b9f50b71510436f2\cleanmgr.exe.mui
 Windows Server 2008 64 bit C:\Windows\winsxs\amd64_microsoft-windows-cleanmgr_31bf3856ad364e35_6.0.6001.18000_none_c962d1e515e94269\cleanmgr.exe.mui
 Windows Server 2008 32 bit C:\Windows\winsxs\x86_microsoft-windows-cleanmgr.resources_31bf3856ad364e35_6.0.6001.18000_en-us_5dd66fed98a6c5bc\cleanmgr.exe.mui
 Windows Server 2008 32 bit C:\Windows\winsxs\x86_microsoft-windows-cleanmgr_31bf3856ad364e35_6.0.6001.18000_none_6d4436615d8bd133\cleanmgr.exe

Once you’ve located the files move them to the following locations:

  1. Cleanmgr.exe should go in %systemroot%\System32.
  2. Cleanmgr.exe.mui should go in %systemroot%\System32\en-US.

You can now launch the Disk cleanup tool by running Cleanmgr.exe from the command prompt.

Run disk cleanup

Select C drive in next window.

Select C drive

Select the files you want to delete and proceed.

Select files

More option

Option 2 – delete files manually

If you want to delete files by your self, refer to this page.

If you cannot free up large amount of free space, or system C drive was created too small, you’d better expand C drive to increase its disk space, otherwise, C drive runs out of space again in near future. With server partition software, you can transfer free space from other drives into C drive without losing data.

Fix C drive out of space issue by resizing partitions

Step 1: Download 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 generate free Unallocated space.

Shrink d drive

Drag to resize

Click OK and back to the main window, where 20GB Unallocated space 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, where C drive extended to 50GB by holding the 20GB free space from D. Press Apply on top left to execute, done!

Volume extended

If there is plenty of free space in D, you may take more free space out and add into C drive. If there is not enough free space in D, you may get free space from other drive in the same disk.

Video guide how to add more free space to C drive in Server 2008:

Expand C drive

In Summary

When C drive runs out of space in Windows Server 2008 (R2), try to free up disk space and expand C drive with free space in other partitions.

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