Disk Usage Warning

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DreamHost enforces disk-related limitations (quotas) for email-user accounts on its servers.

However, please note:

  • You can set that limit,
  • By default, there is no imposed limit, and
  • Your account includes unlimited disk space!

If that limit is set for a mail user, you (or the owner/administrator of the account) may receive Disk Usage Warning e-mail notices when a user account approaches, reaches, or exceeds those limits. Your users may also receive these messages in an effort to let you know what's going, so that you can take appropriate actions to resolve the situation.

Lightbulb wiki.png Tip: This wiki article helps to explain what's going on and how to resolve this situation. In particular, please pay close attention to the Notes within this wiki article, which provide helpful troubleshooting tips.

Common disk related error messages

If you receive any of these common error messages:

  • Disk quota exceeded
  • IMAP connection dropped
  • insufficient disk space
  • Unable to create file...
  • Unable to delete file...
  • touch: cannot touch...
  • disk quota reached

The most likely cause is that you've reached or exceeded one of your disk limits for the particular account in question. If that's the case, then this article should provide useful information to help you troubleshoot any errors.


Before we continue, let's clarify some terminology. We need to properly define the generic term account so that disk usage can be clearly understood.

  • The terms user account, FTP/shell or e-mail account refer to an account with which you log into on of our servers.
  • The term account, or more accurately sub-account, usually refers to the entire account you control via our control panel. You see your account information listed when you log into the control panel and go to BILLING > MANAGE ACCOUNTS in the menu system.
  • You'll see the account number and its name listed in large blue text near the top of that section. Note that you can change the name of the account by clicking on the "rename account" link. If you have several "sub-accounts" under your control under that WebID you'll see several more listed in the lower section of the menu column. You can select which one you want to administer by making it the "Active Account". If you do have access to more than one sub-account via your WebID, please be very careful to make sure you have the proper one set as the "Active Account" before making any changes!
  • The term account in general is often used when the term WebID should be used. This is probably the most commonly abused term withing the DreamHost world! *Your WebID is what you use to log into the control panel. We've simplified things a bit by allowing you to log into the control panel using the primary contact e-mail address defined for your WebID. To find out what your actual WebID is click on the Edit profile link at the top right corner of the control panel, at the top of the next page you'll see the phrase "Welcome, WebID" (next to the "Logout" button). That's your actual WebID there. It never changes. However you can change the primary contact e-mail address if you want.

Disk limits (quotas)

DreamHost doesn't impose any disk space or file number limits as a default. Customers can choose to limit disk space for their mail users through the panel. There is no disk space limits available for web server (FTP/Shell) users, and we also do not impose a limit on how many files can a user have. The only limit to the latter is just what the machine itself imposes, which is pretty big and we're monitoring that one, so it's not ever an issue :)


  • Size: the amount of disk space (usually in MB or GB) that can be used by a particular mail user account.

The amount of disk space that your hosting plan(s) provides is shared between all of the user accounts, e-mail accounts, databases, etc. under that particular sub-account. This disk space is unlimited on all DreamHost accounts!

Whenever you create a new email user account, you have the option to limit total disk usage. That option is checked by default, and it's set to 200MB. We suggest that if you do set a limit, raise that number if you're expecting to handle a lot of mail through that new email address. 200MG is doable for regular mail, but when it comes to HTML mail and attachments and such, that limit will be quickly reached and will cripple the email address until it's changed. If you set a limit and later you need to change it or remove it entirely, you can do so by editing the email address at (MAIL > MANAGE E-MAIL).

Note2 icon.png Notes:
  • It is recommended that you never set an e-mail account with a disk limit below 100MB! Most e-mail clients require some free space in order to operate (even to delete messages). If an e-mail account reaches/exceeds its disk limit it will give errors (ie; "IMAP connection dropped") when this happens. It will also bounce incoming messages! If that happens you'll need to increase/remove the disk limit in order to get it working again (information on how to do that will be provided at the end of this article). Remember that our mail servers allow incoming messages as large as 40MB. A couple of large messages could fill your account very quickly if its has a very low disk limit! For more information on incoming message limitations see this Wiki article.
  • When changing/removing disk limits (quotas) it can sometimes take up to 24 hours for the changes to be pushed to the live servers! If you have run into a problem by an account reaching/exceeding its disk limit, and you've made a change via the control panel, you may want to go to [SUPPORT > CONTACT SUPPORT] and submit a support request asking if they can expedite the change. Sometimes we can and sometimes we can't (due to various technical issues). But it can't hurt to ask! Don't forget to specify which e-mail account you're referring to!


  • Files: the number of files that can be used by a particular account. This is not limited by DreamHost on a per account basis. The only limit is the one imposed by the server itself, but that limit is closely monitored by our teams, so it would never affect our customers.

Viewing your disk quota status

You can view the disk usage status for your user accounts via the control panel under (STATUS > DISK USAGE).

Note2 icon.png Notes:
  • The control panel stats only update once per night so any changes you make during the day won't be reflected in the control panel until the next day!
  • The control panel status shows the current disk limit that the control panel has configured, but that may not necessarily reflect that the servers are actually using. Those types of changes often take up to 24 hours to be pushed to the live servers. All usage under 10MB shows as < 10 MB.
  • If you ever see and asterisk (*) next to one of those amounts that indicates that it's at or above the limit. That indicates that you'll have problems with this user account until the situation is remedied.

Common causes for going over the email disk quota

When the e-mail accounts reach/exceed their disk limits, they usually stop working and give various errors when you access the mailbox (ie: "IMAP connection dropped") and bounce incoming messages.

The first step to getting an e-mail account working again is to increase/remove its disk limit. Instructions are provided below.

Note2 icon.png Note: Once the disk limit issue has been resolved you'll want to see what caused the account to reach/exceed its disk limit in the first place.

Most common problems are:

  • You may have the Inbox Archiver configured to move messages from your inbox to the "old-messages" folder. Check out its Wiki article for more information on how to deal with that issue. There may be so many messages in this folder that you may not be able to index it to find out how many are in there. If this is the case please contact support for assistance.
  • The "Trash" folder is not emptied or purged. Disk space is NOT necessarily recovered when messages are deleted. Messages are often moved to the "Trash" folder (or whatever folder your e-mail client is configured to use for this purpose) so you can recover them if necessary.

How to change or remove disk limits

For "E-mail" accounts log into the control panel and go to (MAIL > MANAGE E-MAIL) and click on the "Edit" link for the address in question.

  • Either increase the "Limit total disk usage" or un-check that option.
    • If you increase the disk limit make sure that the "Email me daily warnings" option is checked so they are notified!
  • Click on the "Save changes" button to push the changes into place. NOTE: It can often take up to 24 hours for these types of changes to be pushed to the live servers!
  • Contact support by going to (SUPPORT > CONTACT SUPPORT) and ask them if they can expedite the disk quota change manually. Don't forget to specify which user account or e-mail account you've just changed!