Use a Mac to Repair a Sansa Clip with the “Not enough space for Music DB, please free 30 mb” error

First of all, the fact that you need to leave free space on your Clip is the most irritating issue I’ve ever seen on a modern electronics device. I’m sure there are thousands of people out there who have thrown their Clips in the garbage because of this.

Anyway, here is the situation:

You’ve got the “Not enough space for Music DB, please free 30 mb“ message on your Sansa Clip.
You have a Mac

Read on for the fix.

Here is the fix:

Open Disk Utility
Click on the Sansa Clip listing on the left – Not the disk itself, the DEVICE.
Click the ‘Partition’ tab
Under Volume Scheme, choose ’1 Partition’
Click the ‘Options…’ button
Choose ‘Master Boot Record’, then click ok (this is IMPORTANT!)
Click the drop down next to ‘Format:’ and choose “MS-DOS (FAT)”
Click Apply

When this is complete, you can eject the disk if needed, and your clip should be back to normal.

I found that by default the formatting process doesn’t use the ‘Master Boot Record’ partition table system, so even though I had formatted the disk repeatedly, it wasn’t working correctly till I manually specified to use an MBR.

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15 Responses to Use a Mac to Repair a Sansa Clip with the “Not enough space for Music DB, please free 30 mb” error

  1. faith says:

    thank you.. i’ve been searching for a solution for years… how about how to update using mac?

  2. pardsbane says:

    Unfortunately, there still isn’t a good MTP solution for the Mac. MTP allows the device to manage free space and storage, so this problem wouldn’t happen. With the device in MSC mode, it just appears like a file system and any program can write to the disk. You might want to take a look at Doubletwist or Songbird as a way to manage your device media.

  3. Markus says:

    Thank you. This really helped me a lot. For the last 6 months I have been unknowingly using only half of my Clip’s 8GB’s capacity as it was incorrectly showing the free memory which indicated that it was full (I also often got the “not enough space for DB, pls free 30MB”).

  4. Markus says:

    Sorry I forgot to ask how do you transfer music from your Mac to the Clip? Using iTunes I drag&drop from my Music folder using KopyMac to avoid ghost files…would you know a better way? I would love to transfer Smart Playlists.

  5. pardsbane says:

    I don’t use it right now because I’ve been using my iPod mostly, but I would recommend trying DoubleTwist: http://www.doubletwist.com/

  6. John Brodeur says:

    I found a much easier way simply reformat using the setting menu on the Sansa Clip :) And all that wasted space is now back and it resolved an issue I had with 0 byte file. I installed the latest Firmware also :)

  7. pardsbane says:

    In my case, the Clip was so corrupted that it wouldn’t boot at all, so I couldn’t get to the settings menu. That’s why I documented this solution. If you can get to the settings menu, definitely reformatting from there is a much easier approach.

  8. Eline says:

    I have this exact problem. I’m from Holland, I don’t know if that makes any difference..but I can’t follow the steps. There is no Disk Utility? The only thing I can open on my mac is the folder with audible/audiobooks/music/podcasts/record. I really hope you have a solution for this too, I miss my music terribly!

  9. Josh says:

    Hi Eline,

    If you look on your Mac in the /Applications/Utilities folder you should have a program called “Disk Utility”. If you find that, I think the instructions in the article will explain what you need to do.

  10. Jenny says:

    I can’t get my clip to do anything but turn on and read “not enough space for Music DB please free 90 MB”

    If I plug it in to my computer, it wont even show up that an external device is plugged in. I cannot use the disk utility method for this because it is not reading the sansa clip.

    I cannot delete files from the settings menu either because the moment my sansa clip turns on, there is no way for me to get to a menu… it just flashes the error message.

    What can I do?

  11. Norris says:

    Thanks, Josh. Now works better than new: boots up fast and all.

  12. Mike says:

    A much easier solution to all of this is to repeatedly press the center (?select) button while the message is on screen—it will just boot like normal. Or at least mine does.

    Alternatively, you can run the disk utility while the device is connected to the computer and click “Repair Disk” and this will do the trick as well.

    Hope this helps—I used to hate this error message, but the middle button trick works for me every time.

  13. david says:

    I have washed this thing a bunch of times, dropped it etc etc and it has always come back to life. and then i got the stupid error message “Not enough space for Music DB, please free 30 mb.” The best fix for me is what mike said unplug the device from your usb and “repeatedly press the center (?select) button while the message is on screen—it will just boot like normal.” You can then go in to the system settings and go to where it says “format” (to format). It will says “are you sure you want to format this device?” and then click yes. Make sure you do the format and not just the “reset factory settings.” By doing the “format” method after pressing the center button repeatedly you should be able to operate without any incident. You can then plug it into the usb and put your music etc back on. This works regardless if your device was used used with a mac or pc. In fact you can use both a mac and pc on one device, but if you are on the mac, you will see the mac files and pc will show you pc files. The device is compatible with both at the same time. I love sansa> ipod =]

  14. carol says:

    Have a Sansa Clip and got the full message so followed your directions, but now I can load audio books, but they are listed as unknown and will not play. Have fixed it several times, but still saying unknown. They are listed in the folder on the device by name, but not under audible folder on the device. Will not play from either place. What can i do?

  15. William says:

    I too couldn’t get the computer to recognize the clip, tapping middle button did nothing, holding middle button while i connect did nothing, but having it connected, and then turning it off and on a few times got me to the “Connected” screen, and then the mac recognized it and I could follow the steps to format. Thanks!

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