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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