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Low Disk Space/Full Disk Error

A Low Disk warning will appear when the computer hard drive is full or running out of space. This will prevent any backups from being generated, and can cause slow computer performance. To resolve this issue, you will need to free up space on the hard drive in question. Alternatively, you will need to create the backup on a different drive.

This article is intended to provide you a step-by-step guide to resolve the problem on your own, but MacPractice Support is always available to assist you should you need us. You can contact us at (877) 220-8418, or you can click the "Have a Question? Ask Now" link in the lower right of this window.

Checking Available Space
You can check how much space is available on a drive by navigating to the Apple Menu and selecting "About This Mac", then selecting the Storage tab. This will be on the Server computer.

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The capacity of all connected drives and their available free space is displayed here, as seen in the above screenshot. The amount of available free space you will require depends on the size of your database, which is best identified by checking the size of one of your previous backups.
We recommend at minimum conserving space equal to the size of your backups multiplied by four, and multiplying that resulting number by the number of backups you wish to retain.
SpaceNeeded = (Backup Size * 4) * NumberOfBackups 

How big are my backups, and how much space do I need?
In order to check the size of your backups, we will need to locate them first. You can always check the path of your automatic backups by checking your Backup Preferences, located on the MacPractice Server computer by navigating in MacPractice to the MacPractice Menu > Preferences > Server Backups.

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This screen displays your backup configurations. Each line represents an automatic backup scheme. We are interested in two fields:

  1. The Backup Path column, highlighted in the above screenshot. This column determines where the backup is written on the hard drive. You can think of this like an address on the computer.
  2. The number in the Max column. This determines how many backups are to be retained in that location. This is the number we can plug in to "NumberOfBackups" in the formula described above.

Navigating to a path is easy. Simply open up Finder, navigate to the "Go" menu, and select "Go To Folder..." This will prompt you for the path.

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In this prompt, enter the path exactly as seen in the Backup Path column in Server Backup Preferences. For example, to navigate to the MacPracticeBackups folder shown in the Server Backup Preferences screenshot, you would type in "/Library/MacPracticeBackups", exactly as shown.

Once you have navigated to the Backups folder, you should be able to locate your backup files. They will all end with .mpbak, and should display the name of your practice. In the below animated image, you can see the name "MacPractice_Support" for our backups here at MacPractice HQ.
You can see the size column in Finder. This displays the size of your backups. You can also check the size by right clicking the backup file, and then clicking "Get Info", as shown in the below image.

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If we follow our formula from before, we would take our backup size (151.2 MB) and multiply that by four. This equals 604.8 MB. We would then multiply that result by the Number Of Backups (5). This equals 3,024 MB, or a little over 3 GB. In order to comfortably write our backups, we would need a little over 3 GB free at all times.

SpaceNeeded = (Backup Size * 4) * NumberOfBackups
3024 MB = (151.2 * 4) * 5

I can't access /Library/MacPracticeBackups!
The path "/Library/MacPracticeBackups" is a little special. It is the default location that MacPractice writes backups to. Secondly, it has an additional security step that prevents a user's access if they haven't been granted explicit access. You may need to grant yourself access to read this path.

Before following these steps, ensure that you are logged into a computer admin account.
Navigate to the Apple Menu > System Preferences > Users and Groups.

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This screen allows you to customize access permissions for each computer user. What we need to do is grant your user access to the macpractice_backups group.

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First, click the lock icon in the lower left. You will be prompted for your MacOS user password. Once entered, click on the "macpractice_backup" group as shown in the screenshot above. You may need to expand the "Groups" category by clicking on the triangle icon to the left of "Groups".

This group controls who has access to the MacPracticeBackups folder. Simply locate your user, and check their name. Once this is checked, click the lock again to lock the screen and commit your changes. 

Now, you can simply re-launch Finder by navigating to the Apple Menu > Force Quit > Select Finder and click the "Relaunch" button. Or you can log out and back into your macOS user.
Once done, you'll be able to access the MacPracticeBackups folder. 

I know how much space I need. What now?
MacPractice cannot assist with freeing additional space on the server hard drive. We unfortunately do not know what files on your computer are important to your practice. An IT or Office Manager would be better equipped to determine what is needed for your practice.
However, we can recommend a few steps that you can take.

  • Additional space may be obtained by emptying the computer Trash. To empty Trash, right click or control click on the Trash icon in the Dock. Select Empty Trash to remove all Trash contents. This will delete all files that were in the trash, freeing up the space those files were occupying. Be sure that there is nothing in the trash that you want to keep before emptying the trash!
  • Additional space can be obtained by removing older MacPractice backups. Check each path with the instructions given above, and any extraneous backups can be dragged into the trash. The most important backups to keep are the most recent ones, as those will be the ones you want to use should the worst occur. Your practice may want to store quarterly or yearly backups as well, so confer with your office staff and management to determine your needs.
  • You can reduce the amount of space you will need to reserve by adjusting the "Max" value in Preferences > Server Backups. The Max value determines how many backups are kept in the designated path. Once the max is reached, when a new backup is generated, it will replace the oldest backup in the path.
    If there is no max set, MacPractice will continue to write backups to this path until there is no space to do so. We highly advise setting a Max value in all cases to contain how much space is needed.
  • Additional space may be obtained by removing unnecessary programs or files (such as music, videos, images, and so on) from the computer.

We hope this helps! Again, if you run into any issues at any point, don't hesitate to contact MacPractice Support! We're here to help!

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