Some Facts About Windows Low Disk Space Warning Balloon



With the hard drive space getting unbelievably bigger and bigger, the chances of getting the low disk space warning balloon aren’t that often anymore comparing to years ago, unless you are using those low space SSD drives. But it’s still interesting getting know some of the facts of it I’ve never paid attention to.

It delays in Windows 7

In fact, in version prior to Windows 7, the Low Disk Space warning balloon appears within a minute when it happens. But since Windows 7, it can take up to 10 minutes for the balloon to show up. Why? According to the inside story revealed by Raymond Chen:

In previous versions of Windows, Explorer checked for low disk space once a minute. The Windows performance folks requested that the shell reduce the frequency of checks to improve overall system performance, and the shell team agreed to reduce the frequency to once every ten minutes. (The performance team made other suggestions to reduce the impact of that code that runs every ten minutes.)

So yes, in Windows 7, it may take up to ten minutes for Explorer to report that you are low on disk space.

But don’t explain, since Windows Explorer never promised that those reports would be timely. The behavior is not contractual but a courtesy notification.

How low of the hard drive space to trigger the balloon?

Again, Raymond explained here:

The simplified version is that it warns of low disk space on drives bigger than about 3GB when free disk space drops below 200MB. The warnings become more urgent when free disk space drops below 80MB, 50MB, and finally 1MB. (For drives smaller than 3GB, the rules are different, but nobody—to within experimental error—has hard drives that small anyway, so it’s pretty much dead code now.)

So, theoretically, no matter how big your hard drive is, you won’t get the balloon to warn you unless it’s only got less than 200MB free space left. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem be a way to change this behavior.

How to disable it

You shouldn’t really bother or disable it. But if you find it’s annoying, here is a registry change you can use to disable it.

  1. Click Start, click Run, type regedit, and then click OK.
  2. Locate and then click the following key in the registry:
  3. On the Edit menu, point to New, and then click DWORD Value.
  4. Type NoLowDiskSpaceChecks, and then press ENTER.
  5. On the Edit menu, click Modify.
  6. Type 1, and then click OK.

Not that this is a user based registry change, meaning that changes made here won’t affect other users that use the same computer.


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