Please disable adblock to view this page.

← Go home

Free Space Management


September 18, 2016
Published By : Pratik Kataria
Categorised in:

  • Since disk is limited, we need to reuse it
  • To keep track of free disk space, system maintains a free space list
  • Free space list records all free disk blocks
  • New file allocation is done amongst the free disk block
  • When file is deleted, its disk space is added to free space list

Bit vector  – approach 1

  • Frequently, free space list is maintained as a bit map or bit vector
  • Each block is represented as 1 bit
    • If block is free, bit is 1
    • If block is allocated, bit is 0


  • For eg. consider disk where blocks 2,3,5,7,8,10 are free and rest are allocated. The free space bit map would be 0110 1011 01
  • Advantage – relatively simple and efficient to find first free block

Linked list – approach 2

  • Free blocks are linked with each other
  • First block contains pointer to next free block and so on
  • Scheme is not efficient as list traversing needs substantial I/O time


Grouping- approach 3

  • Store address of n free block in the first free block
  • The first n-1 of these blocks are actually free
  • The last block contains addresses of another n free blocks
  • Address of large number of free blocks can now be found quickly

Counting- approach 4

  • Generally several contiguous blocks are allocated or freed simultaneously
  • So idea is to keep address of first block and number n of free contiguous blocks that follow first block
  • Now each entry in free space list then consists of disk address and a count

Disk management

  • A storage device mechanism by which the computer may store some information in such a way that this information may be retrieved at a later time
  • Size of main memory is small to accommodate all data and programs and loses data when power is lost
  • Operating system is responsible for:
    • free space management
    • storage allocation
    • disk scheduling
  • In UNIX / Linux, every thing is consider as file
  • For eg. if you have two hard disks then representation will be
    • /dev/hda  (primary master HDD)
    • /dev/hdb, (primary slave HDD)
  • For floppy drive – /dev/fd0
  • For CD ROM – /dev/cdrom
  • For DVD-writer – /dev/dvdwriter
  • USB mass storage – /dev/sda


  • Swap space management is a low level task of operating system
  • The main goal for the design and implementation of swap space is to provide best throughput for the virtual memory system
  • Swap device is a block device in configurable section of a disk
  • Kernel allocates contiguous space on the swap device without fragmentation
  • Free space of swap device is maintained in core table – map
  • Kernel treats each unit of swap map as group of disk blocks
  • As kernel allocates and frees resources, it updates map accordingly


Mapping process to swap device. Here, Swap out.