Eliminate XP's Low Disk Space Notification alert

Learn how to eliminate XP's Low Disk Space Notification to increase system performance and prevent users from being interrupted.

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 click OK.

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 variable name.

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.

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 XP.

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.

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.

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