In a lot of our Windows-based, hard disk drive troubleshooting articles, we recommend using the CHKDSK utility tool as a method for pinpointing, and repairing data errors that crop up on your hard drive.
The CHKDSK utility is great for maintaining the health and efficiency of your hard drive. It keeps your HDD clean by scanning and repairing bad cluster sectors, which are ruined parts of your hard drive.
However, the CHKDSK scan can sometimes run into errors of its own. Notably, the most common of them is “the disk does not have enough space to replace bad sectors”.
The said error message is not limited to a single Windows version and can appear on Windows 11/10, 8/7, and even XP. Let’s jump in and figure out what this error means, what are the causes behind it, and what you can do to fix the issue.
Understanding The Meaning Behind CHKDSK’s Insufficient Space Error – How CHKDSK Works to Replace Bad Clusters
When you see the error message, “the disk does not have enough space to replace bad sectors”, it’s easy to misconstrue “space” with your hard drive’s regular disk capacity or physical storage space. However, what this error is actually telling you is that there aren’t enough unallocated sectors of space on the disk in order for CHKDSK to replace the bad sectors. Let’s break this down briefly:
- Your hard disk drive has a limited number of sectors that are assigned with their own numbers (LBA’s or Logical Block Addressing). These sectors act like “slots” where disk data can be stored. Once the disk runs out of LBAs, it can’t store any more data, regardless of how much physical storage space is left on the disk.
- At the drive’s end, unallocated (non-numbered) sectors are deemed as extras. If a sector of data goes bad, these extra, non-numbered sectors, are used by the HDD to replace the bad sectors.
- When a bad sector is identified, it’s corrected by deleting the number allocated to the sector, and reallocating it to sectors without a number. Essentially, the data gets reassigned to a non-numbed sector, freeing up the numbered sector where the data was previously housed. This numbered sector can now take on new, good data.
While the above process is taking place, you may see the error message, “the disk does not have enough space to replace bad clusters” because your disk does not have enough (same size or more) “free, non-numbered LBAs” as the number of bad sectors it’s trying to repair and replace.
If you have a lot of bad sectors on your computer’s HDD or the disk’s limited number of sectors is almost full, you may see that the “CHKDSK has insufficient disk space”. This is a problem because those bad clusters are going to stay in their current slots, and if left unchecked, can lead to bigger issues down the road.
What Causes Too Many Bad Sectors Resulting in CHKDSK Not Working?
There are a few common problems that lead to the development of bad clusters on your hard disk drive that lead to the “the disk does not have enough space to replace bad clusters” error, such as:
- Your Hard Drive Disk Is Failing Or Old. The most common cause of having too many bad sectors is a hard drive disk that is too old and failing. As your disk is worn and starts to fail, it begins to develop physical defects that could turn into bad sectors. When this happens, you may also see disk capacity problems where your disk reports less storage space than what’s actually available.
- Your Hard Drive Disk Experiences a Littoral Disk Crash. If your hard drive disk experiences a littoral crash, which is a disk failure that happens due to environmental factors such as humidity, dust, vibration, an unplanned computer shutdown, or a power outage, bad sectors can form.
It’s important to note here that hard disk drives are engineered to never run out of their extra sectors within their intended lifetime. If you have an old hard drive that is experiencing the “chkdsk has insufficient disk space” problem, it’s undoubtedly time to replace it. However, if it’s newer hardware encountering this error, you should create a backup to prevent data loss and attempt to fix the problem using the methods below.
6 Ways to Fix “The Disk Does Not Have Enough Space to Replace Bad Clusters” Error Message
The aforementioned hard disk drive error can be fixed by trying one or more of the surefire solutions we are presenting below:
1. Be Patient and Wait for the CHKDSK Process to Finish.
Often, users see the error “the disk does not have enough space to replace bad clusters” and automatically think that CHKDSK is not working properly. So, they end up closing out CHKDSK before it had time to finish its process. In doing this, the process gets interrupted, and the bad clusters remain.
What you want to do is allow the CHKDSK utility tool to keep running despite the error message, as it will attempt to continue to repair the drive. Just remember that the larger the drive is, and the more bad clusters you have (versus how much free space you have for fixing them) is going to increase the duration that CHKDSK needs to run.
On the low-end, it may take an additional 1-2 hours, while on the high-end, it could take up to 10 hours, or more. Just make sure that your computer doesn’t power off or restart during the process as this can lead to data loss or disk corruption.
2. Run CHKDSK In Safe Mode.
If you can’t wait for the CHKDSK process to finish or if it gets interrupted and won’t complete, try running it in safe mode. This will help prevent any programs from interrupting the process. The easiest way to boot into safe mode when your computer is on is to do the following:
- In your computer’s start menu bar, search settings.
- Head into settings and find update and security.
- Click into update and security and choose recovery.
- Recovery will be located from the left-hand sidebar.
- Now click advanced startup, and choose restart now.
In the advanced startup menu, find safe mode and let your computer reboot into safe mode. Once everything is booted up, open up the command prompt by typing in CMD into your start menu, type in “CHKDSK /r” (no quotations), and hit Enter.
If you would like to check out other ways to boot into safe mode so that you can run CHKDSK without interruptions, check out our How to Boot Into Windows 10 Safe Mode article.
3. Scan & Repair Bad Sectors Using Third-Party Software.
If you don’t want to wait for the CHKDSK process to finish or if it keeps getting interrupted, you may opt to use third-party disk repair software that can scan your hard disk drive and identify and repair bad sectors. This is an option for those who have exceedingly large HDDs (500 GB+) and don’t have the luxury of waiting for 12+ hours for CHKDSK to finish its scan and repair.
Before running third-party software, we recommend using the Windows built-in disk defragment and optimize drives app, as this can fix disk errors causing bad clusters. To use the built-in disk defragment and optimize drives app:
- In your computer’s search menu, type in disk defrag.
- Open up disk defragment and optimize drives app.
- In the optimize drives window, choose the drive with bad sectors.
- Click on the optimize button and allow it to go through its passes.
- When it’s down, restart your computer and try running CHKDSK again.
If you get the same “the disk does not have enough space to replace bad clusters” error message, then consider checking out third-party software like HDD Generator, which supposedly fixes bad sectors on hard drive disks, while Victoria purportedly remaps, erases, and restores data.
Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that any third-party software you download needs to be scanned ahead of time to ensure it does not have any viruses. Any third-party software mentioned in this article is just an option for your consideration and is not necessarily recommended by us. Do your due diligence first before downloading and installing to verify validity and safety.
4. Extend The Volume of Data on Your Hard Drive Disk.
You can use disk management to add space to your hard disk by extending the volume amount on the disk into the empty space on the drive. To do this though, the empty space must be unallocated and come immediately after the volume you want to extend with no volumes in-between. This works on Windows 11/10, 8.1, and Windows Servers (2016,2012 R2, 2012).
- In your computer’s search menu, type in computer management.
- Select the computer management app from the menu.
- In the new window that pops open, find storage in the left-hand sidebar.
- Select disk management underneath it. You may need to expand the storage drop-down menu.
- Select the volume you want to extend, and right-click on it.
- Choose the extend volume option from the context menu.
If the extend volume option is grayed out, then you’ll need to restart the process again, but make sure to open up the computer management app as an administrator. Then do the following:
- If you see unallocated space to the right of the volume, but there’s another volume in-between the unallocated space and the volume you want to extend, you’ll need to either delete the in-between volume and all the files on it (back it up first), or use a non-Microsoft disk partitioning app to move the volumes without destroying the data (be careful with third-party apps!).
- Otherwise, you’ll need to skip extending the volume and create a separate volume within the unallocated space. This is done by selecting the unallocated volume, right-clicking on it, and hitting new.
You can read more about extending volumes here.
5. Decongest the Disk By Cleaning Up Your Computer.
Save To The Cloud
If you have a lot of large files that are taking up precious disk space, consider uploading them to the cloud (e.g. Google Drive, or DropBox), and placing them on an external hard disk drive, or some USB flash drives. The latter may do the trick if your files aren’t large video games or large rendered videos. This will help free up disk space on your computer and serve as a way to protect your data in the event that your hard drive fails.
Clean Up Your Desktop
We highly recommend removing unnecessary desktop files from the computer and saving them in their regular places such as your video, document, or photo folders. Saving to the desktop isn’t a good practice, as these files require working memory to be constantly displayed on your desktop. This increases the amount of memory that is unavailable to be reallocated during a CHKDSK scan.
Uninstall Unnecessary Programs
You can also uninstall any programs that you don’t use frequently, as this can help free up disk space as well. In freeing up disk space, you may be able to fix disk errors that are causing bad sectors, and this can help the CHKDSK process run smoothly without any interruptions. To uninstall programs on Windows:
- In your computer’s search menu, type in “control panel”.
- Select the Control Panel app from the menu.
- Now select uninstall a program under the programs option.
- In the list, scroll to find apps or programs that you infrequently use.
- Select them from the list, and select the uninstall button at the top of the window.
- Follow the on-screen prompts to delete the app or program from your computer to free up space.
6. Back up Your Files and Replace the Hard Drive.
If all else fails, the final step would be to back up your files onto an external hard disk drive or to the cloud and then replace your computer’s HDD. When you replace the hard disk drive, make sure to properly scrub and delete all data off of the hard drive before throwing it out, as you don’t want sensitive information to be accessed by someone else.
After you have replaced the hard disk drive disk, you can then reinstall Windows and all of your programs, and then finally transfer over all of your backed-up files. This process may be lengthy, but it’s a surefire way to fix disk errors that are causing bad sectors on your computer’s hard disk drive.
CHKDSK Error Fixed
We hope that this article helped shed some light on what to do when you see the “disk does not have enough space to replace bad clusters” error message. At least one of the six solutions we presented here will surely fix the issue. Just make sure you follow the instructions.
If you have any other questions or suggestions, please feel free to leave us a comment down below.