How much storage is enough storage?

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.

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TOPICS: Windows
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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?

Topic: Windows

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18 comments
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  • My space requirements for now and in the immediate future?

    I really haven't considered that too much recently even though I can dual-boot between XP and 98SE. My HDDs are 40 and 30GBs have been holing up decently, though one partition on my 30GB drive is down to 1.7Gs free. I can probably reclaim 2-5Gs by dumping some unused Quake mods. Right now, my main concern is upgrading my motherboard/CPU. Not many new apps or hardware, especially SATA HDDs, will run on a 700MHz Athlon with 256MB RAM and a 2x AGP slot.

    When I do upgrade my HDDs, I'll need something to hold XP and 98SE with extra room, plus room for whatever Linux I see fit to install. Then I'll need something for my four-partitioned second drive to have more room to grow.

    After upgrading my HDDs, I'm going to need to upgrade my backup wares. My current DVD+RWs just won't work for twin 400GB drives.
    Mr. Roboto
  • It's hard to see how 500GB can be used

    Excepting video, it's for me to see how 500GB can be consumed even by a fairly sophisticated PC user. My hobby is amateur photography and I have at most, 10GB of photos in both JPG and RAW along with ~15GB of MPEG4 video and ~11GB of MP3's.
    All this fits comfortably in a 75GB drive which is ~90% full. Perhaps others thrill in keeping EVERY photo, ripped DVD's and downloading (ahem) every MP3 out there, but really, 500GB? Wow.

    Again, video is entirely a different matter although eventually I also believe this will be a data type for the masses in a few year, thanks to Apple.
    Prognosticator
    • Games are pretty extreme ...

      Oblivion, Quake 4 and AoE III, and that's 10GB gone :-)
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
    • Keeping every photo

      "Perhaps others thrill in keeping EVERY photo"
      I have to admit, it's just easier to keep them than to sort them out!

      Things get worse too ... since going from 512MB CF cards to 4GB, I take more photos ... it's a vicious (but fun!) circle!
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
  • You're coming at this from the wrong angle! dont increase storage on ....

    You're coming at this from the wrong angle! dont increase storage on .... your MAIN pc, build yourself a dedicated storage BOX. a one stop repository for music, video's, that mapping data, everything media.

    that way nothing has to transfer when you do an upgrade to your main box. plus, being that all this box does is store files, it doesn't have to be a horsepower filled behemouth.

    2 years ago i setup a box with a promise card and 4 160 gig western digital drives to be my storage server. drives on my other machines are mapped to the storage box.

    of course, that was two years ago. currently my project is an upgrade of the storage box, and with prices how they are i should be able to build something that will have me sitting pretty storage wise for a good long time (cross your fingers).

    in case you want to know, here is the box as it's shaping up now:
    Largest case i can possibly find, with as many hard drive bay's as i can possibly find. (boxes with 12 internal bays are out there, but i'm hoping to find one with 16.
    motherboard with two pci express slots
    a highpoint rocketraid 2320 card which gives me 8 SATA II ports

    this card takes up the pci express, and can be used in tandem and transparently with an additional card down the road. total price for the first phase of this box is under 2000.00 and filled with 4 500 gig drives will give me an initial 1.5 terabytes of fault tolerant raid 5 storage on my internal network.

    the best part is that this is very expandable. and the raid can be rebuilt on the fly after adding another drive. running low? get another drive, now we're up to 2 terabytes.

    ultimately, with two rocketraid cards, and maxed out at 16 total drives (after the addition of another power supply to juice the additional drives) total storage capacity is 7.5 terabytes in a single box. at TODAY's prices this would be somewhere around 4000.00 for the full setup, but this can be acheived over time, the only thing initially needed is the first 4 drives which is under 2k and dropping in price daily.

    i hope that in the next 5-10 years 7.5 terabytes is still seen as "a lot"...

    of course, i could wait a bit longer for more seagate perpendicular drives to come out before making my move... 1 terabyte drives will be available before the end of the year, can we say a single box with 17 terabytes of storage? we sure can :)

    Valis
    CEO
    Valis Enterprises
    http://www.valissoft.com
    Valis Keogh
    • That's almost exactly what I plan on doing :-)

      I've got enough old PCs lying about to pull this off. It seems a far better solution than messing about with network assesasible drives and external hard drives, and the whole thing will be so much easier to administer. It'll also fit in nicely onto my gigabit network!

      I don't thing I'm going to fit 16 drives to 7.5TB of space :-) but a few TB would be nice.

      How much power does that box need?
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
      • Yup, a central repository for media,...

        Yup, a central repository for media, and the fault tolerant aspect is nice to have also. The box will need only one power supply initially, but probably grow to two over time as more drives are added. that's a simple thing to do really. you CAN go out and buy an insanely huge supply, like 700w- 1000w , but two, one for the motherboard, system drive, and a couple drives, the other for hard drives alone and is "always on" will do the trick nicely. the cards i'm using, the highpoint rocketraid cards, have "staggered spinup" capability. the biggest power draw on a hard drive is when it's initially starting up and starting to spin, staggering the spin up of the different drives keeps the power supply from being overloaded at startup.

        thanks :)
        Valis
        Valis Keogh
        • Highpoint Rocketraid

          I like the look of those Highpoint Rocketraid cards ... must resist temptation.

          Two PSUs is a great idea and far better than wasting money on one big one ...

          TIP:
          If you want to switch the PSU on without hooking it up to the PC then all you need to do is plug it into the mains outlet and switch it on at the back (if it has a separate on/off switch) and then use a bit or wire (a straightened paperclip works) to jumper pin 14 to one of the grounds either side (it doesn't matter which you use). The PSU will now switch on!
          Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
          • ha! lol, i was going to mention that...

            hehehe, i was going to mention the paperclip trick but figured you'd ask if you didn't know it ;) i've used that trick before, old computer power supplies make pretty good bench power supplies.

            Valis
            Valis Keogh
          • Adaptec U320 SCSI

            genuine advantage RAID...
            andyILM
        • You might want to look at a NAS device

          I've got an Infrant NAS 600 box with 4 500GB SATA drives in a RAID 5 configuration. Gives me about 1.4 TB of usable storage. And if a drive goes out, I don't lose anything. With some of the other schemes I've see mentioned, you have to think about how you recover from disk failure? No Raid, Raid 0 or Raid 1 are too dangerous for me. I've got more stuff than I can possibly backup to CD/DVD/tape media.

          28GB or software
          400 GB of music
          10 GB of other files.

          and I haven't even started doing video yet.

          Eventually, I'll go to the 2 redundant drive configuration (RAID 6) and I'm just waiting for the 750 GB SATA drives to drop to a decent price. :)

          David
          chinese.bookie
  • wow, whatcha gotta do to get a response around here?

    ?
    Valis Keogh
  • You need to take a data crap.

    Time to wipe your drives and start over. Way too much crap. Put your prized stuff on DVD's and dump the rest. You need to clean house every year or so. No need to carry all that baggage around forever. You probably don't have enough lifetime left to listen to all those mp3's and watch all those pictures and videos. When you do things and go places, look at it now and you won't have to look at it later. Life it the journey, not the recorded history.
    Pazooza
    • I'd love to ...

      ... but hard drive makers just keep making bigger drives!
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
  • Storage Woes

    You do have a lot of data..

    Now - what is your backup and resote policy..

    Sadly backup technologies have not increased much in comparison to hard drives.. And they tend to be considerably more expensive per gigabyte too,
    Marcwolf1960
  • You forgot to Mention the few of us

    who use our PC's as vcrs. 250G gone like (Snap fingers now) that.
    Hrothgar - PCLinuxOS User
    • Message has been deleted.

      myfevertoy
  • Try this, it worked for me

    I get this message from time to time, and I've applied the following with success. Always proceed with caution when messing with the registry, your mileage may vary.

    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/106167

    Cheers
    markbennet410