Are You Dealing With the “Scratch Disks are full” Error Repeatedly?

Scratch Disks are full

Everyone loves to work on a digital device smoothly without any interruptions. However, it’s not possible if you don’t use the recommended settings. For instance, the designers well-acquainted with Photoshop understand the agony every time the dialog box “scratch disks are full” appears. It is so frustrating that many designers often think changing the system is the last resort to reduce such errors.

But that’s not always the solution. Then what should you do? If you want your Photoshop to run at its maximum potential, understanding scratch disks are essential. But before we get into details, let’s understand a bit about Photoshop scratch disk error.

Scratch Disk Error: What is it?

A scratch disk is a hard drive or SSD that Photoshop uses for temporary storage. In other words, it uses this space to store some portions of the documents and its history panel that is unable to fit in the memory of your system.

By default, the application uses the hard drive as its primary scratch disk. So, whenever you encounter the “scratch disk is full” error, it means your hard drive or drives are running out of storage space to perform a task.

But what triggers this error in the first place?

Photoshop Scratch Disk: Why Does it Happen?

As we mentioned above, the photoshop scratch disk is nothing but an event where the application uses the hard drive as temporary storage when your system does not contain recommended RAM to operate. And in case your system contains a single hard drive, a scratch disk will be the space where it stores the operating system.

It goes without saying that Photoshop is a “resource-intensive” application that needs more than just your device’s memory. For those who are still new to this concept, let’s clear one thing. By default, Adobe Photoshop gets more than 60% of the computer’s RAM. This is why the applications always warn the user to increase their RAM capacity.

Now that you understand the concept, the next probable question would be:

How much space do you need to avoid scratch disk errors?

Ideally, the minimum free space on a scratch disk must be around 6GB for Photoshop. However, this is the minimum space it requires to keep free for the scratch disk. But for the application to work efficiently and seamlessly, you would need more than 6 GB.


If you make only a small change, you need 10 GB of scratch disk space. Experts believe that you will need around 20GB of free space in your OS drive when working with this application. However, it might vary according to the file type you are currently working with. For instance, if you have to make changes to dense pixel layers, you need as many times the sizes of the original files.

But what drive formats do scratch disks support?

macOS: macOS extended

Windows: FAT32, NTFS, exFAT

The following drives don’t support scratch disk:

  • Any USB-2 drive
  • Thumb drives
  • NTFS formatted drives
  • Network drives

Now, let’s move on to the critical task. And that is:

Setting Up Scratch Disks- Steps to Follow

The application allows you to manage the scratch disk location. This is why experts suggest creating a dedicated hard drive space for the scratch disk so that Photoshop works smoothly. You can further improve the performance of your system by setting the disk as the quickest drive on your digital device. Also, make sure never to use removable hard drives as a dedicated space for your scratch disk.

Is that all? You can follow the steps to avoid this issue in the future.

  • If you face issues like the application shutting down on different occasions improperly or crashes in the middle of a session, you might have many temporary files on this disk. Hence, if you receive messages like scratch disks are full, you can look for files named—Temp####, in which #### denotes the series of numbers.
  • Again, if you are getting this message, there might be a chance that you have to clear some disc space. Like we mentioned before, adding a space specifically for Photoshop will be beneficial to avoid this error.
  • There are chances you might receive this error message even though there is free space on the disc drive. In such a case, you might have run a disk defragmentation utility to gain some unfragmented free space for your Photoshop scratch disk.

The steps mentioned above help you set up scratch disks and allow you to avoid errors when working. Now, we’ll be talking about the experts’ recommended settings.

Settings for Scratch disks

When working with Photoshop, if you want the best performance, connect it to a compatible port that provides the highest bandwidth limit. For instance, if you opt for Thunderbolt, it provides 10GB/second, and USB3 delivers 400MB/second.

To further improve the performance, make sure to set the disk to a defragmented hard disk containing plenty of unused space. Experts believe that RAID disks are ideally a good choice for dedicated scratch volumes. And lastly, make sure to defragment the disks containing scratch disks regularly.

Final Words

Working with Adobe Photoshop is a necessity that no designer can avoid. However, if you start facing issues like “Can’t complete the request as the scratch disk is full,” you must look for the steps mentioned above and resolve your problems completely.

Besides the points mentioned above, there might be cases where you might receive the error message when cropping an image. It might be because you entered the wrong values of your units. For example, setting up inches instead of pixels will result in creating a huge file, triggering the error message. In such a case, clear the option and start the action again.

Having said that, there can be multiple reasons that your device shows “scratch disk full” errors when working with Adobe Photoshop. So, you must identify the root cause of the problem and use the solutions accordingly to solve the problem.

After all, you can’t leave your work hanging because of this temporary problem that has a solution.


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