Sunday, 6 September 2009

Howto: Reclaim hard disk space from the system.

Before I went on holiday last week I had an internal drive start to fail, so a quick look at Ebuyer and a new Samsung Ecodrive F2 1.5TB monster was delivered. I swapped out the drives and went on holiday. While I was away I realised that I had left the default setting on the drive for system reserved space. Almost 80GB was reserved by the system for logs and such which I feel is a tad excessive myself ;)

This works on ext2/3 partitions and from what I can tell and been advised this is fairly safe to do, I'm using "fairly safe" deliberately here, as I best understand it the reserved space is mainly for system logs, helps to prevent fragmentation and helps when a drive becomes 100% full.

Note: This is safe to do on drives containing data, no need to backup everything to perform it, no data should be lost, based on advice I received and my own results of course, I will not be held liable for your data or lack of backups in general.

I have set my storage drives to 0% reserved space, left my root drive at 5% space and my /home drive at 2% space (which should be around 3GB which is excessive I think but better safe than sorry). Change /dev/sda1 to match the drive you want to change!

sudo tune2fs -l /dev/sda1

Lists the drives settings (note that "-l" is a lower case L, in case of font issues), you can then see how many blocks are being reserved by the system, you can then adjust the default 5% that the system uses to something nicer), If you have a Nautilus open before issuing the command, notice how much free space is available (lower left corner of the window) then issue the command and refresh the Nautilus window, the result is instant extra space available to see and use.

sudo tune2fs -m 0 /dev/sda1

This will set it to 0%, adjust that "0" to a more suitable number if needed, I prefered to leave some space reserved on root and /home, drive space is cheap but I don't like the though of wasting too much, making adjustments on various drives and partitions recovers me a good chunk over 100GB!

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