Recovery Disk is Full; Can I Delete Files?

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Infopackets Reader 'pthamilton' writes:

" Dear Dennis,

I have a Dell XPS M1330 laptop computer. I get frequently recurring messages that my D drive (recovery drive) is full. Can I delete files on my recovery drive? Also, if I upgrade to Windows 7 or Windows 8, will it stop the 'disk is full' error messages? Thank You. "

My Response:

In general, it is not recommended that you delete any files from the recovery drive, as it contains disk image files used to restore your system to default configuration when you first purchased the computer. If you downloaded or copied files onto the D drive, you can either move them over to C, or delete them to free up space -- just be careful which files you delete. Another option is to shrink the C drive and then expand D drive using Windows Disk Management, or by using a partition management program. Before you grow or shrink a drive, you should always backup the system in case anything goes wrong.

As for your second question: upgrading to a new version of Windows will not resolve the 'disk is full' error message, unless you deleted all partitions on the drive (including the recovery partition). Please note that if you proceed with a new Windows upgrade and did not delete your old recovery partition, then it would contain an out of date disk image backup of the system; if you then restored the system using the old recovery partition, it would would wipe out the new installation of Windows and replace it with your old version of Windows again.

How to Upgrade Windows with a Recovery Partition

To upgrade to a new version of Windows with a new recovery partition, I suggest you backup your entire system, then proceed with the new Windows installation; during setup, delete all partitions on the drive, and create 2 new partitions (one for Windows [C drive], and another for your new recovery partition [D drive]). I suggest the new recovery partition be at least 25 GB in size to store your new disk image backup of Windows. So, if the hard drive is 1 TB in size, C drive would be 975 GB and D drive would be 25 GB (approximately).

Once the new version of Windows is installed, you could then create a new disk image and store it on the recovery partition (or external hard drive). If you use a recovery partition on the same physical hard drive, you should also sync your backups to a secondary source (external hard drive, or cloud, for example) for safe keeping in case your primary hard drive dies, which would leave you without any way to restore your system.

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About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

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