Where has my hard drive space gone?
January 23, 2007 9:59 PM   Subscribe

I just got a macbook pro with a 120 gig hard drive. I only have 93 gigs available, what gives?

To clarify, the only thing I've installed is mouse drivers, and the only things I've downloaded are a few updates (itunes, pages, security etc). I know that OS X and the preinstalled software takes up a chunk of space, but 27 gigs? Is that right, or could I have a problem with my laptop?
posted by nimkip to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Second paragraph from the bottom, mostly, but the rest is applicable as well.
posted by awesomebrad at 10:01 PM on January 23, 2007

120GB = 12 billion bytes. You are actually only getting 112GiB (gibibytes) on your hard dirve. As for OS X and preinstalled, I wouldn't be surprised that it takes around 20gigs. (I know garage band is around 3+)

btw the conversion.. gibibytes = gigabytes * 10^9 / 2^30.
posted by mphuie at 10:05 PM on January 23, 2007

At least part of your problem is that marketing hype defines a gigabyte as one-billion bytes, rather than 2^30 bytes, like the operating system does. The wikipedia entry explains this further.
posted by fvox13 at 10:06 PM on January 23, 2007

Beyond the operating system and utilities, it's also pre-loaded with a 30-day test-drive of MS Office (which can be removed at leisure).
posted by deCadmus at 10:33 PM on January 23, 2007

Yeah, hard drives always have lower capacity than advertised. The "320 GB" drive I bought a couple weeks ago is reported as 298 GB in XP. My old "80 GB" drive is actually only 74.5 GB. I found it interesting that the percent difference between advertised size and actual size is, in both cases, 6.875%.

I remember reading an article, or possibly more of a rant, many years ago (maybe in Wired?) about rampant false, or, at least, misleading advertising in personal computers. Besides hard disk sizes, it also railed against how CRT monitor sizes were/are advertised: as the diagonal distance across the face of the tube, instead of the actual visible surface (although I recall many ads would use asterisks thusly: GIANT 17 inch screen!*

*15 inch viewable

As fvox13 alludes to, when there's two ways of measuring something, hardware manufacturers like to advertise the bigger number.
posted by good in a vacuum at 10:34 PM on January 23, 2007

I'm under the impression that part of the missing gb goes to OS X's swap partition. I could be wrong about that though.
posted by lekvar at 10:47 PM on January 23, 2007

GarageBand's loops and iMovie's templates take up a couple GBs by themselves.
posted by nathan_teske at 12:02 AM on January 24, 2007

good in a vacuum: found it interesting that the percent difference between advertised size and actual size is, in both cases, 6.875%.

It's the difference between the aforementioned gibibytes and gigabytes:

(1 - 109 / 230) * 100 = 6.87%
posted by RichardP at 12:39 AM on January 24, 2007

Yeah, the GarageBand instruments and loops are around 4 GB now. The templates for iDVD are almost 2 GB. The core of the OS (just stuff in the System folder) is around 2 GB. Your Applications folder is a couple of GB too. Add that all up, add all the other little things, it's somewhere over 15 GB.

Apple gives you a lot of stuff for free. Not only the OS, but all the iLife apps and a bunch of free media to use with them, and also a complete Unix environment underneath, which you can play with if you want.
posted by todbot at 2:21 AM on January 24, 2007

I recomment Disk Inventory X as a wonderful tool to visualize the data on your drive. It'll let you see precisely how your drive is being used.
posted by Hankins at 6:36 AM on January 24, 2007

in the terminal: sudo du -k / | sort -n
will get you a sorted list of every directory and the size of it's contents (including sub dirs).
posted by mce at 8:23 AM on January 24, 2007

Download Monolingual and delete all of the language files for languages you can't read. You will gain quite a bit of space.
posted by odinsdream at 8:53 AM on January 24, 2007

good in a vacuum, that "320 GB" drive you bought contained precisely 320 billion bytes. There is no false advertising here. It's just that what you commonly call a gigabyte is not a billion bytes, it's 1,073,741,824. If you want to be technical, the hard drive manufacturers are the only ones using the correct terminology, as a gigabyte really should be a billion, and the thing everyone else refers to as a gigabyte is actually a gibibyte or GiB. It would only be false advertising if they labeled it a "320 gibibyte" drive. So don't blame the hard drive manufacturers for the fact that you are confused about units. Of course their reason for using GB and not GiB is obvious as it allows them a slight advantage, but they are not technically doing anything untoward.
posted by Rhomboid at 11:35 AM on January 24, 2007

Along odinsdream's line of thought, if used cautiously, xSlimmer can help you knock out the PowerPC portion of Universal applications, since you only need the Intel. Do not use Monolingual — although it offers that capability, it does it globally, and in doing so will trash the odd application or two that doesn't weather the change well (and they're out there). xSlimmer has a cooperative blacklist of apps that need their PowerPC code even if you're on an Intel machine. Also, don't be afraid to delete apps you don't use — some of them can be huge space hogs, like iDVD and GarageBand. (I like and use AppZapper to clean out my stuff.) If you need them again, you can always reinstall them from the installation DVDs — I use Pacifist to selectively reinstall only what I want.
posted by WCityMike at 12:22 PM on January 24, 2007

Should've been: "... delete preinstalled apps you don't use ... "
posted by WCityMike at 12:25 PM on January 24, 2007

@WCityMike: Monolingual maintains an internal blacklists of apps it shouldn't slim down. You can also add exclusions manually in the preferences.

As I type this, Monolingual excludes Pacifist, Skype, SpeedDownload, Acquisition, FontExplorerX, Diskwarrior, and everything in /System/Library/Frameworks and /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks.
posted by stereo at 2:59 PM on January 24, 2007

IIRC, Monolingual will save you about 2GB on a new macbook pro if you remove everything but English and all PPC architectures.

You can Get Info on your hard disk to see how much space it really has. A standard macbook pro's disk will really be 111.47 GB.
posted by stereo at 3:02 PM on January 24, 2007

Rhomboid: I'm aware that the hard drive manufacturers' measurement is correct. By false advertising I didn't mean that they were lying, just that they have, for many years, been using a unit that does not correspond with the unit that the overwhelming majority of computer users are most familiar with, and work with on a daily basis. It's not shady, it's just stupid. It would be like a car company advertising in the US that its product can do zero to sixty in 5 seconds, then in the fine print specifying that it means 60 kilometers, not miles, per hour. Given that mph is the way car speeds are measured in the US, it would be misleading advertising.
posted by good in a vacuum at 5:21 PM on January 24, 2007

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