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Help! My Recovery Drive Is Full

Monday, November 3rd, 2014 by | Filed Under: File & Disk Management

Joy writes:

I keep getting a pop up warning that my recovery drive is full. I can’t perform backups. What can I do?

Hi Joy, thanks for the question. Some computer manufacturers provide a Recovery drive option built in to the computer, usually on a D: drive. This is not a separate, physical hard drive, but a partition of the main hard drive that is designed to be used only if you need to restore your computer back to its original, factory settings. (You know how when you bought a computer in the past, you used to get a disk with the operating system? This partition replaces that!) This would be done only in extreme cases or problems, as it wipes out all of the changes you’ve ever made to the computer.

That being said, nothing should be stored by the user on that partition. If you ever needed to perform a system recovery, those extra files that have been saved may cause that process to fail. The drive space on the recovery drive is fairly small, and typically is not much larger than would be needed to complete a system recovery.

In working through this problem with Joy, we found that she had somehow saved a backup to that recovery partition, which caused it to be full. Once she deleted or moved that backup to a different drive, her recovery drive was back to being only half full. Keep in mind, since the Recovery drive is designed to be a certain size, it may grow to be almost full. If you get a warning that the D: drive is almost full, that’s OK – as long as you have never added anything to the drive. It’s designed to be almost full.


Remember, a backup should never be set to save to your Recovery drive. One, this will fill up the drive very quickly and make a system recovery difficult if needed. And two, the Recovery drive isn’t a separate hard drive, but rather a partition of the original hard drive. So if something were to happen to the drive, you wouldn’t be able to access that backup anyway. You should set your backups to go to an external drive or flash drive.

– Audra

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2 Responses to “Help! My Recovery Drive Is Full”

  1. […] Monica, most likely you have accidentally saved other files to your recovery drive.  Nothing should be saved on that drive except the recover. It’s not an uncommon problem, in fact we addressed the question last fall. Click here to read the full article on how to solve the issue. […]

  2. Dorothy McM says:

    Thank you for this tip- I have wondered about this for years
    Mine was full (on other computers) but I never put anything on it.
    Never even had the option to do so.
    You don`t say how to go about looking to see what`s there- and how to remove anything that doesn’t belong…

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