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How much hard disk drive space should I actually use?

It was once a common practice to use only up to 80% of the total hard disk drive capacity for optimal performance -- beyond 80% of capacity usage and it was time to buy more disks. Is still a good formula to follow? If so, does it apply to different RAID configurations?

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I still like to follow this rule of thumb, no matter how much data is concerned, and not for performance reasons. Rather, once 80% of my storage is used, I start worrying about running out of space. It may surprise you to learn that actual storage utilization is usually much lower than 80%! In my study of utilization across industries and operating systems, I found the average utilization of production systems was actually below 40%.

This was first published in December 2004

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