Why does Windows Vista report that my backup drive is full when it isn’t?
Question by Eva /

I’m really not sure if this is a hardware problem or a Windows problem.

Windows is constantly telling me that my D drive, which is my back up drive, is full and that it needs cleaning. When I do the clean disc function that Windows Vista provides, the only thing that comes up on Drive D is the recycle bin, which is always empty, but I go ahead and let it “erase” it anyway because otherwise it interrupts me 10,000x an hour.

What causes this message and how can I stop it?

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Answers (9)
  • Thersites33

    Question.  I noticed that my laptop windows vista freezes whenever I try to attach a photo to an email.  It also froze when my photos were the screen saver.  Then any screen saver froze.  So I disabled my screen saver. Coincidentally, and almost similtaneously, my backup d drive indicates that it hasn’t been backed up and instructs me to empty my recycle bin. I do with no effect.
    I’d love to be able to correct the problem myself but cannot find helpful information. Can anyone offer any appreciated assistance?  

    • Tina


      the above question is over a year old. You are unlikely to receive a response to your comment. I recommend that you submit a new question via MakeUseOf Answers. You will receive an answer within several hours.

  • Tina


    were you able to solve the issue with your backup drive in the meantime? What caused Vista to think it was full? Please give us an update if you can. Thank you!

  • Eva

    Every time I turn on the computer it tells me that Drive D is full and I need to run a clean up on it. I do. It does nothing. I haven’t tried to run another backup since the last one is what filled it up. Before that it was only about 3/4 full. The bar under the drive that tells how full it is is full and red. I was able to tell it to compress files yesterday but it only did a small portion of them. I’m almost tempted to wipe out and start over since the most important things on here are my pictures and I have all of them either saved to disc or in internet storage but since this was originally my husband’s pc, I have no idea where he put the original discs that came with it.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Eva. I suspect those symptoms are a different thing altogether. perhaps I was assuming too much. Do you get the message (about the full drive) when you try to do the backups, or at some other time?

  • Anonymous

    There’s also a common problem, depending on what you are doing, where you are backing up a large file, and the system doesn’t want to delete the older version of the file from the backup drive until the new one has safely arrived, and there isn’t room for both of them. In this case, you need to remove the old backup file first.

    • Eva

      differentperspective, How do I go about finding out what file I need to remove. This would make sense because everytime I turn the computer off I go through “install new updates and shut down” but when I turn the pc back on the next day it is still saying that there are things to be installed and I do occasionally get a message saying “installation incomplete.”

  • Taty

    Hi Eva
    It could be a matter of the alloted space for the backup being full, not really the harddrive. Check that first and let us know if it could have been the problem, and if it is, jut allocate more space to it or set it to store for a shorter period of time. Follow up with us if that doesn’t solve it, ok?

    • Eva

      Thank you, Taty. I had thought of this (the more space but not the shorter time, that’s something I hadn’t thought of) but am not really sure how to do it. I’ve pulled it up by clicking Computer then Drive: D and then I get a little scared because I’m playing with a hard drive not just programs that I can reload if I screw up. I’ve looked under File and Edit but don’t see anything that looks like it would let me allocate more space, hadn’t looked for shorter time since I hadn’t thought of it. When I get home I will try again and let you know what happens.

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