Placeholders for Emergencies

A long time ago I worked in a large corporation where we managed lots of servers, each of which performed a variety of different functions. Some were Exchange, some SQL, some file servers, etc. and they would come and go at a frightening pace.

We had monitoring in place, but we’d also have plenty of situations where a runaway process would use up a lot of disk space at a rate that exceeded the ability of the monitoring software to alert us before the user encountered a problem. To help us more effectively monitor things, we started adding placeholders do our server build process.


What’s a placeholder? It’s a large file that just takes up space on a disk. For example, I’ve created a few on my system:


These can be text files, movies, images, whatever you want. The idea is that you just save a particular amount of space. In this case, I have 3 1GB files that are taking up space.

That’s it.

If I run out of disk space, I just delete one of these, and voila, instant 1GB space available.

These have become really, really handy for me. I actually have a few on my laptop. When I run low on space, which will often happen at THE WORST possible time, like the morning of a talk, I can remove a file and free up space.

Of course, I’ve just deferred the issue, but at least then I can work at that moment and then clean up old files as I have a moment.

Placeholders are a great way to save yourself in emergencies.

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7 Responses to Placeholders for Emergencies

  1. extremesanity says:

    I like it. Thanks!


  2. Dan says:

    To me this seems much like setting your clock ahead 5 minutes so your not late all the time. You just end up doing the math in your head, and your just as late, or out of drive space.


  3. way0utwest says:

    Not sure what you mean, Dan. This is a pad for emergencies that’s there. You could run out of space because you weren’t paying attention (Which is like the clock) or because a process breaks unexpectedly. This gives you a way to recover quickly.


  4. I think that’s brilliant. Simple and yet effective. I just ran into something similar last night with one of my VM’s running amuck with snapshots. Luckily I had some old VM’s that were not in use and was able to free up enough disk space to merge the snapshots.


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