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What is the Scratch Disk?

The Scratch Disk is a partition, or section, of the hard drive of the refreshing lab and classroom computers. It is the only place to store files, besides your Google Drive, that are not cleared when the computer is restarted. However, during routine lab maintenance and re-installation of the operating systems during breaks, the contents of the Scratch Disk are often deleted. Also, anyone who works at that computer will have complete access to the same Scratch Disk. It is not account-protected space.

Where can the Scratch Disk be found?

On the Mac side, the Scratch Disk appears on the Desktop as a hard drive icon labeled Scratch Disk. On the Windows side, the Scratch Disk can be found in My Computer, where it is the D: drive.

Why do we have the Scratch Disk?

The purpose of the Scratch Disk is to provide a temporary storage place for documents and other files that a user is working on which is not cleared when the computer restarts.

When should I use the Scratch Disk?

Use the Scratch Disk when you are working on a project on a refreshing computer. Saving your project to the Scratch Disk will result in more reliable saves than saving to a portable drive (e.g. USB drive.)

It is advisable to move your project to your Google Drive, so that you have reliable access to it from anywhere. However, if you leave it only on the Scratch Disk it means returning to that particular computer to access it again. For example, if you save a document called ENTS110-w19-final paper.doc onto the Scratch Disk of CMC109-15, you will only be able to access that document in the future from the specific machine labeled CMC109-15 (in CMC109). If you move your document to your Google Drive, you can access it from any computer.

How do I use the Scratch Disk?

Save your working projects frequently to the Scratch Disk, perhaps every five minutes or so. If the power is lost unexpectedly on the computer, you will still be able to access your project. Also, in the rare event that we experience an Internet outage, your project will still be saved to the Scratch Disk. However, if the computer experiences a hardware malfunction that results in the complete corruption of the hard drive so that all data on it becomes inaccessible, your project will be lost. This is why it is a good idea to save your project to your Google Drive or to a portable drive before logging off of a computer.

How do I move my file from the Scratch Disk to my Google Drive?

  1. Open the Scratch Disk.
  2. Click on your file once to select it.
  3. In a browser, login to your Carleton Google account - (you might choose to create a folder there for related items.) 
  4. Drag your file from the Scratch Disk to the specific location in your Google Drive.
    1. If you see the file there, you know it has moved successfully.
    2. Note that this will result in two copies of the file - one in the Scratch Disk and one on your Google Drive.  


As a courtesy, remember that many people store their files on the Scratch Disk, so please do not delete any files that you see. If a file looks suspicious, contact the ITS Helpdesk and they will examine it.