How much storage is enough storage?

Summary:You can never have enough RAM, your CPU can never be too fast, and your hard drives can't be too big. Of the three though, it's my demand for hard drive space that's been pushed the hardest over the last couple of years. It's great to have bags of RAM and a fast CPU, but that doesn't mean anything if you don't have the free drive space to install and save data to.

You can never have enough RAM, your CPU can never be too fast, and your hard drives can't be too big.  Of the three though, it's my demand for hard drive space that's been pushed the hardest over the last couple of years.  It's great to have bags of RAM and a fast CPU, but that doesn't mean anything if you don't have the free drive space to install and save data to.

I've just finished building a couple of new systems.  Where's it going to end? I've jumped to 750GB...One of these is currently running Windows XP and on the other one I've installed Windows Vista Beta 2.  Given that I was quickly running out of space on my old systems (and partly because big drives are now so cheap) I kitted out both systems with over 500GB of storage space (the Windows Vista system has 750GB of space and the Windows XP machine has 650GB).  That sounds like a lot of space, but I'm still left wondering whether, by the time I'm ready to move from Windows Vista onto whatever Microsoft will have to offer next, I'll see it as enough space, or will I look back at it in horror and wonder how I ever managed to do anything with so little space.

OK, I'll admit that my demands for disk space are greater than that of the average person. I have several gigabytes of mapping data on my PC, along with a pretty big music collection, and I take far too many pictures and video (and I'm not disciplined enough to delete the stuff that's rubbish!).  I also have a ton of software installed (a lot of it of the bloatware kind).  However, the thing that really surprises me is that I'm noticing that the people around me are catching up with me, and fast.  It seems that once you hook up a digital camera and a video camera to your PC, your disk space demands start to go through the roof.  At first, the effect is small and practically undetectable, but after a few months the increased demands start to become quite noticeable.  After a year or so the problem is critical and it's time to start thinking about having a good data sort out, or install a new, bigger hard drive (and since it's far easier and quicker to install a bigger drive, that's what tends to happen!).

Still, I'm still surprised (and a little shocked) as to just how astronomically my space demands have become.  Back when I moved onto Windows XP from Windows 2000 I think that my main machine had a couple of 20GB hard drives, and as I recall that seemed more than ample at the time.  In fact it seemed like too much!  But between then and now I must have swapped out or fitted new hard drives a number of times to keep up.  And it's not just hard drive space, I see the increase with recordable media.  Many years ago I bought a 100MB Zip drive and thought that a couple of Zip disks would be all that I needed to store my data for years to come (in fact, I even labeled one "My Stuff" - I still have it!).  Quickly, that couple of disks grew into a pile, and then a couple of piles, before being made obsolete in overnight by my first CD recorder (these piles are still gathering dust on my shelf where, one day, I promise that I will look through them just in case there's anything important on them that I need!).  Once the recordable CD drive was fitted (a bulky HP external thing that hooked up to the USB port) 650MB was the new 100MB and once again I couldn't imagine a time when that wouldn't be enough.  That was, until I got my first DVD recorder ...

On the machine that I just moved from, I had 250GB of drive space in total, and of that, as of yesterday just under 20% that was free.  That's still quite a bit of space to play with but I have to admit that I had started to get worried every time I looked at that pie chart in XP ... a few more games installations or a session of transferring some video from tape onto disk would have maxed me out!  It also had a dual-layer DVD recorder, which I installed after I realized that there were times when a 4.8GB disc just wasn't enough.

But where's it going to end?  I've jumped to 750GB in the hope that this will be enough for a couple of years, but I have to admit, I'm not convinced that it will.

What's are your space requirements like and how have they changed over the past few years?  How do you see that changing over the next couple of years?

Topics: Windows

About

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is an internationally published technology author who has devoted over a decade to helping users get the most from technology -- whether that be by learning to program, building a PC from a pile of parts, or helping them get the most from their new MP3 player or digital camera.Adrian has authored/co-authored technic... Full Bio

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