How to Erase a Scratch Disk in Photoshop

If you use Photoshop for work, or maybe just a hobby, you might be pretty well versed in this area. However, you may have come across an error where you cannot open Photoshop because of your scratch disk.

In this article, we'll tell you about your scratch disk, how to erase it, and all the other options you could try with it.

Learn more about the scratch disk

As you may know, a scratch disk is a local storage drive that Photoshop uses when it runs. This virtual hard disk uses your computer's memory to store files that cannot or do not need to be in your RAM.

By default, Photoshop will use your startup drive as the scratch disk. Over time, your bootdrive can accumulate temporary files from many programs on your PC, as most of them will use it in one way or another.

This can cause scratch disk errors.

How to Erase a Scratch Disk in Photoshop

To locate the scratch disk location, you can follow these steps:

  1. In Photoshop, open the Edit tab.
  2. Select the Preferences option at the bottom of the drop-down list.
  3. Select the “Scratch Disks…” option
  4. Here you will see a list of drives and checkmarks next to them. Each check mark means Photoshop is using that drive as the scratch disk.
  5. If you want to create a new scratch disk, check the box next to the drive you want to use.
  6. Photoshop will then allocate the data to more locations, reducing the load on the startup drive.

If you want to completely erase a scratch disk of previous data, you'll need to find the files to delete manually.

If Photoshop uses your startup drive, the following folder is where you'll find its temporary files:

C:UsersYOUR USERNAMEAppDataLocalTemp

Once there, look for the file named “Photoshop Temp” followed by a string of numbers. This is the file that contains all the temporary data used by Photoshop when it starts up. Delete this file to clear it.

Note that deleting temporary files will also delete any progress on projects you haven't saved, so make sure you've saved everything first.

If you are unable to delete the file, Adobe may currently be using them. Make sure Photoshop and all other Adobe programs are properly closed.

You can also clean up the current Photoshop cache for the project:

  1. Open the Edit tab.
  2. Select Purge.
  3. Select all.

Clearing the entire Photoshop cache will delete all previous versions of the current project, leaving only the current version in its memory. If you've made a lot of drastic changes, it can save a lot of memory, but you can't roll back to previous versions.

How to Erase a Scratch Disk Without Opening Photoshop

If you receive an error message that your scratch disk is full and Photoshop can't open, follow these steps:

  1. Try to open Photoshop.
  2. While the application is open, press Ctrl+Alt (on Windows) or Cmd+Options (on Mac). This command will bring up the scratch disk menu as shown above.
  3. Add another drive to your scratch disk to add space.
  4. You can also locate temporary files in the drives used for the scratch disk and delete them.

Erase your scratch disk

If Photoshop isn't using a lot of memory on its own, or if you've already erased your scratch disk and you keep getting a disk full error, you'll need to delete additional files on the drive.

Your first option for freeing up space is to use the built-in Disk Defragmenter. To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Open the start menu/search bar.
  2. Type "Defragment".
  3. Disk Defragmenter should appear accordingly. Click on it to open it.
  4. From the menu, select the drive you want to erase.
  5. Press "Analyze".

Disk Defragmenter doesn't delete files, it just reallocates them, so you have more free space available that is bound. Having more free memory bound is essential for larger files. For example, Photoshop may have huge files for its cache, which won't fit in a drive if the open space is segmented.

Erase scratch disk in Premiere Pro

If you use Premiere Pro to process videos, you might also be wondering how to clear its scratch disk. Premiere Pro uses a cache system to store temporary files. To locate and remove them, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Edit tab.
  2. Open Preferences, at the bottom of the drop-down menu.
  3. Select the Media Cache tab.
  4. There you will find the local cache path. You can select a new path, even on a different drive, if you want to change it.
  5. If you want to delete cache contents, tap Delete.
  6. You can also configure Premiere Pro to automatically delete cache files. There are two options for this.
  7. If you want to delete old files, select the "Automatically delete cache files older than" option, then enter the number of days. Your system will delete all files older than this number of days.
  8. If you want to keep your cache below a certain amount of memory usage, select the "Automatically delete oldest cache files when cache exceeds" option, then enter the maximum amount of GB you want assign to your cache. If your cache exceeds this limit, it will delete the oldest files until it drops below the limit.

Premiere Pro can use multiple scratch disks for any of its project components. To access it, do the following:

  1. Open the Edit tab.
  2. Click Preferences.
  3. Open scratch disks.

Premiere Pro lists all scratch disks according to the part of the current project. You can change the location of these scratch disks by selecting the drives to use from the appropriate menu. By default, the scratch disk is the same as the project storage, but you can also use the "My Documents" folder or a custom path of your choice.

Additional FAQ

Can I add more space to my scratch disk in Photoshop?

The easiest way to add more space to scratch disks is to spread them across multiple drives. You can select any number of disk drives your device has for scratch disks. To create a new scratch disk, go to the scratch disk menu and check the drive you intend to use. Photoshop can use four disk drives as scratch disks and 64 billion GB of memory to do so, but that's unlikely.

Alternatively, you can add a new disk drive to your device and dedicate it as the primary scratch disk for Photoshop. We recommend using an SSD, as they read and write data faster. Scratch disks won't reach terabytes of data usage easily, so you'll be safe using a regular SSD. RAID disks, or disk arrays, are a great option to use for a scratch disk, but it will take a bit of googling and tinkering on your part.

Additionally, you want to systematically clean up other temporary files on your device to prevent your scratch disk from filling up.

What should you do when your scratch disk is full?

If your disks are full, you have a few options.

First, you can delete anything you don't use. You can store previous projects and data on an external drive, for example, so as not to take up active space. Be sure to defragment the drive after freeing up space to allow Photoshop to access all of it.

Second, you can delete Photoshop temporary files. This will remove any remnants of past projects that you don't want to keep and allow you to start fresh. You can also clean Photoshop cache for current projects.

As a final option, you can install additional disk drives and then place the scratch disk there.

How to use more RAM

If you only use your device for Photoshop, it may be beneficial to improve its performance. One of the best ways to do this is to increase its RAM usage. By default, Photoshop will use 70% of your available RAM. To change this, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Edit, then to Preferences.
  2. Open performance.
  3. A slider will show how much RAM Photoshop can use. You can adjust the slider or enter the desired number directly.

We don't recommend allocating more than 85% of your RAM to Photoshop, as this can significantly slow down the rest of your processes.

Your records, clear as day

Photoshop is a great tool for artists and, if you use it in your work, can be a great assistant. It is essential that you take good care of the memory it takes so that you do not encounter the most unfortunate moments. If you followed our advice, this shouldn't be a problem. We hope you have a great time creating great projects.

Have you ever had a scratch disk full? Which of these solutions worked for you? Let us know in the comment section below.

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