If you find that your Mac has started to run slowly or takes a long time to start up, it’s likely that storage space is the problem. Insufficient storage space can have many negative consequences on your Mac, ranging from slow startup speed to apps not launching, and more.
There are many reasons why you should keep extra free storage space on your Mac. We’ve covered them all below.
How much free storage do you need on a Mac?
There are several factors to consider when determining the exact amount of storage you need to keep free on your Mac. It depends on the type of storage, how often you use your Mac, etc.
You usually need to keep a significant fraction of your storage device empty, anywhere 5 to 20 percent the total disk storage size. Keeping this amount empty will allow your Mac to use it for temporary files when needed, so it can run efficiently.
For example, if you have a 256 GB SSD in your Mac, you should keep at least 13 GB free at all times, preferably more.
Most SSDs these days will work fine even if you fill them to capacity, as most manufacturers keep a portion of the drive empty to deal with temporary files and boot issues. However, depending on your usage, it can still cause a lot of issues on your Mac. Some of them are very obvious, while others can be a bit hidden.
Here are the top reasons why you should keep free storage space on your Mac.
1. Free storage keeps your Mac from slowing down
If you’re low on storage space on your Mac, the first thing to suffer will be your Mac’s speed. You’ll notice everything running slower, from starting your Mac to loading apps. You will also notice that the Finder is stuck or unable to load folders. If so, it’s best to free up some space immediately to get your Mac back to normal.
Your Mac may also be running slower due to limited memory and insufficient RAM, in which case we recommend freeing up your RAM instead.
2. Your system will have room for temporary files
Macs use free storage space for temporary files and “swap” files. Swap files are used when memory is under pressure to write data to the drive. It can take up a lot of storage space when you do some memory-intensive task like editing a movie.
In such cases, it is always beneficial to keep storage space free to allow your Mac to work well with temporary files. Otherwise, you will find that your Mac may stop working when you throw an intensive task at it, for which you will have to restart it to get it working again.
3. You will be able to update your Mac software
Many software updates these days can consume several gigabytes of data, which is why it’s essential to have free storage to allow them to be downloaded. If you update your Mac’s software to the latest version of macOS every year, you’ll see that each installer is around 12 GB in size and requires around 35 GB to 45 GB of free storage to install. So, if you don’t have the required free storage space, you might not be able to upgrade to the latest version of macOS.
4. You’ll have fewer starting problems
Another consequence of running out of storage space on your Mac is that it can interfere with your Mac’s startup process. A slower start can be a little inconvenient, especially when you’re looking to get the job done quickly.
How to Check Storage on Your Mac
macOS gives you a clear overview of free storage on your Mac from the apple menu. You can see it if you go to the Apple menu and click About This Mac. Click on Storage to see an overview of your usage. This is also broken down into different file types, allowing you to see which files are taking up the most storage.
How to Free Up Mac Disk Space
If your storage space is indeed filling up, you might want to start freeing up space on your Mac. It’s easier said than done, but there are immediate steps you can take. For example, enabling iCloud Drive on your Mac can let you offload unused documents to the cloud. Likewise, you could move non-essential data to an external drive, which would free up space on your disk space.