How much hard drive capacity is enough?
One of the key differences between the two quad-core systems that I'm building will be how much hard drive capacity each ends up with. This is because one of the quad-core systems will be mine and the other will belong to my wife, Kathie, and we have very different needs when it comes to drive capacity. Each system will start off with the 150GB offered by the Western Digital RaptorX drive, but beyond that we'll customize the drives to suit our individual needs.
To be honest, I really don't need a lot of drive space. I have a music library that's about 10GB, an audiobook library that adds another 5GB, about 25GB of digital photos (thanks to making a lot of use of uncompressed RAW formats) and a library of ISOs (some DVDs, some applications) that's about 150GB in size. I also have many VMware and Virtual PC images, taking up perhaps 100 - 150GB. Beyond that I'll have Windows installed, Office, a few games (which I tend to rotate) and random applications.
Kathie's drive usage is very different to mine. She has much the same data that I do, but just a lot more of it. A lot more digital photos (and Photoshop files) - basically early every image that I've put into a book or on the web has been through her PC, a lot more music and DVDs, a lot more audiobooks, a lot more ISOs (while I'll happily download the ISO I want from TechNet, Kathie keeps a library, something which makes a lot of sense to be honest, and I make a lot of use of her library), a lot more games and a LOT more of what really consumes drive space - video. My jaw drops not just at the amount of space she has but also at the amount she is actually using (and also how many drive letters she makes use of).
The bottom line is that while I'll probably end up with 750GB or capacity (a lot of space), Kathie will probably fit at least twice that and might even go as far as 2TB. While we can (and will) offload a lot of storage onto external drives and a couple of systems dedicated to file server duties, even on a gigabit Ethernet system and using Firewire or USB 2.0 for the external drives, nothing beats having the data on your system - it's far easier to access (especially while Vista has this network throttling issue going). Don't get me started on the backup headaches that this volume of data creates.
I know that our hard drive usage at the PC Doc HQ is way off compared to the average user, but I'm seeing more and more "regular users" filling up quite big drives. One of the biggest difference between when XP was released compared to Vista is the amount of data people have. This raises issues of storage, archive and backup that a few years ago just weren't an issue for the home user.
Personally, I'm just glad hard drive makers can keep cramming more capacity onto those platters and keep up with out needs!