Today I started doing some housekeeping on my computer in regard to storage. Storage is a thing that has become somewhat of an afterthought nowadays, because it’s so damn cheap. You can easily pick up 3 terabytes of storage for under $100. So why not have everything on your hard drive? Or why not add additional drives and put everything and then some on there?
Me, I’ve gone back and forth on these concepts and this go-around, it’s time to set some rules and stick to them. I don’t pretend to believe that my rules would work for anyone else, but consider doing the mental exercise to determine what works for you and what you really want from your computer.
First consideration is storage availability. When I first installed Windows, I moved all my data files off the C: drive and put them on a separate, larger hard drive. Then I changed the mapping of Documents/ Music/ Pictures/ Videos to the folders on the new drive. This gave me the room to expand if I ever needed to.
Next consideration is storage reliability. This was accomplished by mirroring my data drive. This is easily done right in Windows. I’ve tried RAID controllers and NAS units, but the built-in functionality works just as well, I’ve found. Along with that level of reliability is file backup, for which I use Window’s File History, writing to an external USB drive. So: redundant hard drives and an external backup.
Then, to the details. I gave some consideration to the data I was keeping. I classified it according to access frequency. I had files I accessed or needed to reference daily or frequently, files that I may need to refer to but aren’t currently active, and files that I probably won’t look at again but can’t delete. While I was making these determinations, I also made the decision that any video files that I also had on DVD would be removed. Video isn’t something I play frequently, so the time spent getting the physical disc isn’t a huge inconvenience.
I partitioned my data disk into two hard drives, Data and Archive. On the archive drive, I enabled Windows file compression, to make the most of the available space. Normally, I wouldn’t do that on a data drive, but in this case it’s most appropriate because the drive contains files I won’t be accessing frequently. Then, I planned a third level, which would be external hard drives detached from the system. Those would hold files that won’t be used much anymore. Consider it post-Archive.
So the lifecycle of data on my computer would start on my Data drive, move to the compressed Archive drive, then get mothballed onto an external drive. In this way, I shouldn’t need to keep up with the Jones’ in the drive storage arms race. My current working set of data isn’t going to grow exponentially, my archive isn’t going to grow forever, and my drawer full of hard drives holding ancient files is not really a concern. I think it’s a workable system.
As Windows 10 nears, I’m going to make another attempt at using an SSD as my boot drive. I recently had my work laptop converted to SSD and the speed is addicting. I didn’t have such good luck with my Windows 8 install on SSD, so here’s hoping for the best.