Hello all, new to this forum, seems like a friendly bunch, hope you can help me.

Been having trouble with an Xserve, it has all the latest updates and recently was trying to run a backup of the Xraid storage (600GB used), anyway managed to run a backup before no trouble, but this time after the second tape the server no longer responded with a out of disk space error.

The main system drive only has the operating system, norton antivirus, and retrospect for backup (60GB Hard disk for system), which when looking at the finder total files add up to not more than 2GB and yet the hard disk is full!

Please if anyone has any ideas where to look I would be gratefull, but for some reson the hard disk is full and I have no idea where the space has gone, the only thing I was thinking was the virtual memory (paging or something)

But the file 'swapfile0' in the directory/folder /var/vm, is 67108864 (only 64MB) from ls -la, any advice on how to control this? would there be an old one hidden much larger from when the backup was running :confused:

Hello Briggsy,

Interesting trouble that you are reporting. Could you fill in a few details please:

1) What version of OS X are you working with? Panther? Latest patches?
2) Can you open a terminal window, and do a df for us?
3) How much RAM is on our server?

The df command is the "disk free" and it will show out all of your devices, and how much space is used.

Take care,


Hello Christian,

Thank you for your post.

1) Server 10.3.3, Yes, Got all latest updates from Software update
2) Luckily it lets me do that! just been using the du and df commands after looking around the forums.
3) 2GB

You are right needed to use those commands from the terminal, and hay presto there are the files nicking all my space, well nearly after having to log in as root and tracking down loads of files and directorys/folders in the /var/tmp area, one of them is 35GB!!!

Now me next problem is how to safely remove these files, do you know what is the safest way to clear the /var/tmp area?

Thanks again


It would be quick to observe that if files are in /var/tmp, that they are tempfiles, and a simple rm -rf * will take care of the issue. NO! Do not do that. They could be lock files, could be someone's version of word, etc.

My *educated guess* would be:

1) Schedule a downtime. Inform your users that you need to go down for maint. Have them close all files, etc.

2) Reboot the server, and go into /var/tmp, and see what is there. See what the ownerships involved are. Check the dates. You might be seeing someone's print spool file. Maybe someone's photoshop crashed and these files are from whenever. On my OS X laptop, I looked, and they appear to be .ppd files (postscript page defs).

3) You might need to do a cat | more on the files to see if they are text, and you can read them.

Without entering into your system, it would be difficult to quess further. If, after a reboot, there are files still there, I would say it is safe to kill them. Users should not be saving legit files there, and if the files are print jobs, they will be re-created.

As you know Mac OS X / Unix / Linux are multi-user operating systems. It is not so easy to wave the magic wand and kill the temp files a-la-windows.

Good Luck,


Followup: After cleaning /tmp, check the /tmp as you run the Retrospect program again. See if that big 35 GB is related to the tape system. I do not know the innards of Retrospect, aside from that it works really well with me and my ftp-based backups.


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