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I've experienced the situation for a few minutes; other then few warnings from OS, I didn't detect any immediate problems? What is the worst thing that could happen?

I'm aware that I will not be able to save any work; or create any new files. But I was mostly worried that it would eventually crash on it's own or some other "bad thing".

The computer is a Thinkpad t60p with 2 GB ram

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

one consequence is that there will not be a place to store a dump file in the event of a crash, another is that it may limit your swap file, and still another is that it may not be able to go into hibernate(nowhere to put the ram image)

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i've experimented with hibernation; and it seems that if hibernation was already enabled; so hibernation file was already created in advance; I can go to hibernate even though I have no free space; otherwise I can't hibernate ofc – bbaja42 Dec 8 '10 at 13:33
yeah, that's why i said may as opposed to will – RobotHumans Dec 8 '10 at 13:36

In response to question edit:

Without any free space of any sort, the system is quickly unusable. You can't save work in any application, several applications will fail because they back calculations with the disk, etc. You can't even reliably use only a web browser, because you'd not even be able to patch it in the event bugs are discovered (which they invariably are).

Very few computer tasks are going to succeed/make sense if nobody can save anything ;)

By "On the system partition" I'm assuming you have some other partition which does have free space. Any system without any free disk space at all quickly becomes unusable.

Directly, the worst thing that can happen by having a full system disk is failure of the system to save minidumps upon blue screens of death.

Indirectly, however, there is a bigger problem. Several applications, when they install themselves, will attempt to install DLLs into %WINDIR%\System32, even though they really shouldn't be putting anything there. Any program which does this will fail to install, because (of course), the disk upon which that folder rests is full.

This also makes doing things like Windows Update, or for that matter, any other kind of update or installation, because they often try to either write to the system drive, or at least to use the system drive as a temporary location.

So, while Windows itself shouldn't generally fail as a result of a full system disk, there are plenty of applications which would fail. It's therefore probably not a good idea.

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i've updated my answer; since I have no free space; I can't even try to install any app regardless if they wish to install to system32 or any other directory – bbaja42 Dec 8 '10 at 13:36
@bbaja42: If you can't save anything at all, the system is quickly going to be worthless. For example, if you're using Word or Powerpoint, it's generally a good thing if you are able to save your work. You couldn't even get away with using a browser only with a setup like that, because you'd never be able to patch it! – Billy ONeal Dec 8 '10 at 13:38
i don't think he's dead at limit with permanent files...on a reboot(probably purging a HUGE paging file) and deleting temp files/killing processes that are paged, disabling system restore, he might still have a usable box. windows 7 on 2G ram he definitely is paging a lot – RobotHumans Dec 8 '10 at 13:47
@aking: But then he'd not have no space anymore. Those actions would free some space. Windows 7 by default isn't usually going to try to use more than 3-4GB of space for the page file, and it will only even use that much if it makes sense to do that in the context of the applications running on the machine. – Billy ONeal Dec 8 '10 at 13:48
true enough...i wasn't downing the perspective, just saying his box is useless, period is a little out there. – RobotHumans Dec 8 '10 at 13:49

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