Erroneous Out of Space Messages

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated January 15, 2022)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


Working on large Word documents, Bob frequently gets this (paraphrased) error message: "...Disk is out of space. Save on another disk...". Then he must save the document with a slightly different file name. This is clearly not a memory problem because Bob has oodles of room on his disk drive. ("Oodles" is, of course, a precise technical term.) He believes this pops up especially when the program is trying to AutoSave. He wants to understand why this message pops up and how to avoid it.

There are actually a few things you can check out to see if they help. The first thing to check out is where Word is actually saving your information. Word saves information in default locations, defined by settings in the program. Specifically, there are four locations you can specify:

  • AutoRecover file location
  • Default file location
  • Default personal templates location
  • Server draft location

You can see where Word saves each of these by displaying the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 or a later version, display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.) At the left side of the screen click Save. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The Save options of the Word Options dialog box.

Jot down the four paths indicated in the dialog box. Then, take a look at how much free space is available at each of those paths. It is possible that one of them is low on disk space, and that results in the error message. If you discover that to be the case, the solution is to free up some space at that location or change the settings in the dialog box to use a different location.

Another thing to be aware of is how you are opening the document. If, for instance, the document is attached to an e-mail or stored on a USB drive and you double-click it to open, then Word creates temporary files in the same location where your e-mail attachments are saved or on the USB drive. Either of those places could have limited storage capacity and generate the error. The solution is to move (or copy) the file from your e-mail or USB drive to your hard drive and open it from there.

Finally, check to make sure that there isn't some third-party add-in that is the real culprit here. The only way to check this is to disable any add-ins and try to use the document. If the problem is gone, start enabling the add-ins, one at a time, until you see the problem reappear.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13273) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Animated Menus

The menus used in Excel can be animated in several different ways. All it takes is a quick change to the Excel options.

Discover More

Pasting Multiple Paragraphs Into a Single Cell

Copying information from one program (such as Word) to another (such as Excel) is a common occurrence. If you want to ...

Discover More

Counting Changed Words

Track Changes is a handy tool for those who need to see how a document changes over time. If you have a long document ...

Discover More

Create Custom Apps with VBA! Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2013 today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Setting the AutoRecover Directory

When you are using Word, it normally saves temporary AutoRecover files that reflect the latest state of your document. If ...

Discover More

Determining the Length of a Non-Document Text File

If you use a macro to create and work with text files, you can find out the length of those files using a simple command. ...

Discover More

Creating a Document Clone

If you need to work with a copy of a document rather than the original document, you can use Word's Open dialog box to ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is two less than 3?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the ribbon interface (Word 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Videos
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.