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Disk Utility - Erase Free Space - Creating Temporary File Freeze

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I used "Erase Free Space" with Disk Utility after trashing several files I no longer wanted on the hard drive or recovered.  I used  "Zero Out Deleted Files" option.  It took over 12 hours before an error message appeared "Your start up disk is almost full.  You need to make more space available on your start up disk by deleting files."   I thought that was what I was doing.  Disk Utility continued but got stuck on "Creating Temporary File."  I force quit Disk Utility after several more hours.  I had to manually shut down the computer because the restart command wouldn't work.  It rebooted and appears to be OK.   Evidently, this temporary file consumes significant amounts of disk space. This is an older iMac with 10.4.11 (18 GHz PowerPC G5) - I know, pretty old but I still have OS 9 on it and several files I need to extract before I trash it.
1.  Should I do nothing?  The iMac seems to be working fine.
2.  How do I know if this Temporary File exists and consuming space?  Spotlight doesn't find it.  Where is it?
3.  Is my start up disk in fact almost full?  How would I know that?
Thanks!

Answers

Then I would not do any secure erasing. It's exceptionally time consuming and unnecessary. Before you take it in for recycling boot it from your OS X installer DVD. Do this:
Drive Partition and Format
1. Boot from your OS X Installer Disc. After the installer loads select your language and click on the Continue button.  When the menu bar appears select Disk Utility from the Utilities menu.
2. After DU loads select your hard drive (this is the entry with the mfgr.'s ID and size) from the left side list. Click on the Partition tab in the DU main window.
3. Under the Volume Scheme heading set the number of partitions from the drop down menu to one. Click on the Options button, set the partition scheme to GUID then click on the OK button. Set the format type to Mac OS Extended (Journaled.) Click on the Apply button and wait until the process has completed.
4. Select the volume you just created (this is the sub-entry under the drive entry) from the left side list. Click on the Erase tab in the DU main window.
5. Set the format type to Mac OS Extended (Journaled.) Click on the Security button, check the button for Zero Data and click on OK to return to the Erase window.
6. Click on the Erase button. The format process can take up to several hours depending upon the drive size.
A one-pass Zero Data option is all that is required to prevent access to your erased files.

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