Don't know why I didn't get a warning about disk being almost full... It came down to zero free space and I couldn't do anything except force-shutdown it. I booted into Windows, deleted some files from OSX drive, but now on boot there is a progress bar every time and when it reaches the end (in 15 min), the computer shuts down.

I went into the recovery mode and tried to repair the disk, but it says "The Disk Utility cannot repair the drive... backup files and reinstall the OS" -- something like that.

I have a time machine backup but I'm currently not at home - going home in 3 weeks.

Is it "normal" that system gets borked like this because of full disk + force shutdown? Seems too fragile to me. I have Mavericks 10.9.4 on this system.

Is there anything I can do?

3 Answers 3


The problem is that the system goes into a fail-safe mode when the directory structure cannot be presumed to be safe for a new write.

You did the correct triage step by booting into recovery mode and attempting to repair the volume with Disk Utility.

At this point, you should back up any files you need. Test that your backup is complete and run Disk Utility against it to make sure it's in a good state.

Then you can boot to recovery and erase the volume or perhaps use another tool to repair the volume. If the drive erases and takes a format - the problem was a directory (data) corruption and not a hardware issue. If the disk can't be erased, then you need to repair the machine before restoring your backup onto a clean install of the OS.

In your case, you could possibly back up the changed files since 3 weeks or just get a new external drive and use Disk Utility to clone the volume or terminal to copy what you can using rsync or another tool.

  • I tried to repair it with MacDrive from Windows but it also didn't work. Do you suggest some other 3rd party utility that could maybe help? Like DiskWarrior - should I try it?
    – davidhq
    Jul 11, 2014 at 18:17
  • @DavidKrmpotic I wouldn't spend $$ on Disk Warrior unless you have valuable data that's not backed up and can't pay for recovery software. It is useful for professionals - but if you have a recent backup, it's usually best to just wipe and reinstall. In general. Windows utilities won't work with HFS+ Mac volumes.
    – bmike
    Jul 11, 2014 at 19:54
  • I fixed it! Got Disk Warrior and it worked... First tried to run it from bootable DVD (actually USB) but it didn't let me select the internal drive as an option. Then I ran it from the external OSX installation and I was able to fix the internal drive... Yay! Also I suddenly got 15GB extra free space from it... I hope no files are missing, just that it additionaly fixed the problem someone was mentioning above (bug in Mavericks).
    – davidhq
    Jul 12, 2014 at 13:55
  • @davidkrmpotic glad to hear it worked. In general, when directory damage is repaired you lose files to return the disk catalog to functionality. A reinstall of the OS is always good after you back up your critical files now that the system runs again.
    – bmike
    Jul 13, 2014 at 22:35

Actually Mavericks since 10.9.3 has had a filesystem bug where files are not deleted properly, thus the disk "fills up" with files that don't exist, and then when you try and repair it it fails the first time, but may work if you try again.

  • I used Disk Warrior to fix the problem and also I suddenly got 15GB extra free space from it... I hope no files are missing, just that it additionaly fixed the problem you are mentioning. So it's a good practice to just run Disk Warrior from time to time to negate the effect of this bug?
    – davidhq
    Jul 12, 2014 at 13:56
  • I wouldn't run it unless check disk turns something up, but if it does, then yeah of course. As for running check disk, I'm doing that almost every boot these days, stupid friggin bug. Jul 14, 2014 at 14:21

I used Disk Warrior and it fixed the problem.

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