One of the things that Microsoft tried to do when it
released Windows XP was to try to make it idiot-proof, adding all sorts of
bells and whistles that are supposed to keep users from getting themselves into
trouble. Among these bells and whistles is the Low Disk Space Notification
feature. Even though it’s supposed to be helpful, most often it can be an
annoyance. Here’s how to disable it.
Why it’s there in the first place
As the name suggests, the Low Disk Space Notification alert
is supposed to let you know when a hard drive is about to run out of space.
This can be very important, especially on the main system drive, to prevent a
disk from filling up and causing you to lose data. If a user’s main system
drive fills up in the middle of work, it can cause the system to run out of
swapfile space. This in turn can cause a system not to be able to load or
unload programs properly. Running out of free disk space can result in system
lockups and possible data loss.
Windows XP becomes increasingly annoying as your amount of
free disk space diminishes. When available drive space falls below 200 MB,
Windows XP will notify you once per session. If the amount of free disk space
falls below 80 MB, XP will complain every four hours until you exceed the 80 MB
threshold. Once the amount of free space falls below 50 MB, XP will harass you
every 5 minutes until you get the amount of free space back above 50 MB.
If you’ve configured users to have separate data drives in
their workstations, and you’ve educated them about the importance of not
running out of disk space, then these frequent interruptions become counterproductive.
The user is already aware that space is running low and doesn’t necessarily
need to be pestered about it by the operating system. At the same time, on
systems that are at or near minimum recommended system requirements, this
frequent notification can deteriorate system performance; XP is spending time
checking free drive space that it could otherwise dedicate to other tasks.
Turning off the alert
Turning off the alerts requires you to make changes in the
system registry. Start the Registry Editor by selecting Run from the Start
menu, typing regedit in the Open text
box, and clicking OK. When the Registry Editor opens, navigate through the left
pane until you get to:
HKEY CURRENT USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer
In the right pane, look for the value named
NoLowDiskSpaceChecks. If the value exists, it’s probably set to 0, which is the
default value for the key. To change the value, double-click it. You’ll then
see the Edit String screen. Enter a value of 1 in the Value Data field and
If the value doesn’t exist, you’ll need to add it. Select
New | DWORD Value from the Edit menu. The new value will appear in the right
pane, prompting you for a value name. Type NoLowDiskSpaceChecks and press
[Enter]. Make sure you don’t separate each word with a space—it’s one long
Double-click the new value. You’ll then see the Edit DWORD
Value screen. Enter a value of 1 in the Value Data field and click OK. When
you’re done, your Regedit screen will look like the one in Figure A.
|Add the NoLowDiskSpaceChecks key to your registry.|
When you’re done, close Regedit. Your registry changes will
be saved automatically. Reboot your workstation. When your workstation
restarts, those pesky alerts will be gone. Just be sure to advise your users to
watch drive space levels on their own if they’re getting close to being full.
Windows 9x beats XP
Most of the time Windows XP contains more features and is
easier to use than Windows 98. Not in this case. Although Windows 98 doesn’t
have a precise Low Disk Space alert, it does automatically fire up the Disk
Cleanup wizard when it decides that you’re running out of space. Turning this
feature off is easier in Windows 98 than disabling the Low Disk Space alert in
To turn off Windows 98’s Low Disk Space Notification alert,
click Start | Programs | Accessories | System Tools | Disk Cleanup. When the
Disk Cleanup window appears, click the Settings tab. You’ll then see the screen
shown in Figure B.
|It’s easier to disable Low Disk Space Notification under Windows 98.|
Remove the check from the If This Drive Runs Low check box.
Click OK. Now you can monitor disk space on your own and not have to worry
about Windows making decisions on your behalf.