Digitalocean snapshots over 100gb for no reason

Creating a snapshot of my 11gb website, 160GB droplet and the snapshot size is over 100GB!

Ran GT5 and df -h and no filesystem or partitions are oversized, and the main filesystem still has 140 gb available…

Site is running wordpress and memory/cpu are all normal

Does anyone have any ideas as to why the snapshot size is over 100GB when i dont have 100GB of files on the droplet? Must be making a snapshot of non existant data or something?

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Simon Bennett
DigitalOcean Employee
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June 19, 2018
Accepted Answer

Hello Matt,

Full disclosure I run a product called SnapShooter which takes backups of DigitalOcean servers.

I have noticed this issue with a couple of my customers over the last couple of months. They were getting bigger and bigger backups. We have contacted DigitalOcean to find out more information.

From Support Essentially, it’s not unheard of for a Snapshot’s size to vary and not reflect the used disk space amount on the Droplet. For instance, if you’re written a lot of data but later deleted it, that space isn’t automatically zeroed out in the disk.

Now one of my customers was getting the same issue with 10gb of diskspace working its way to 85gb. He got the same answer from support, but discovered on his own that a system reboot fixes the issues.

We are still working with DO to get an answer on this as it never used to happen. If I hear any more I will reply again.



Free space is actually unallocated space that has still old data inside. A snapshot makes a copy of whole filesystem… it happens outside your system so on hypervisor level. Snapshot are normally small because of compression. Solution: make the disk compressable by putting zero’s in unallocated space.

cat /dev/zero>>/zero

#disk will be full after some time


rm /zero


now you can make a snapshot. Snapshot will be small

Sounds like it might be a good idea for DigitalOcean to add the suggestion of rebooting the droplet before creating the snapshot, to their snapshot instructions.

Wayne Sallee

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