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Pack rat

Cheap data storage is a curse. I have so many files on my computer it's not even funny.

I have every homework assignment I ever did in college 8 years ago. I have pictures I can't even recognize any more, and many pictures of stupid crap like the kitchen of the apartment I moved into in 2005. I have snapshots of websites from 7 years ago. I probably have backups of config files from Gentoo in 2003. I have enough wallpapers to open an art gallery of my own. And I don't even want to think about the status of my email. I haven't deleted an email since 2004 other than spam.

I have a folder buried in one of my many backup folders called simply "CRAP". I can't remember making it. Looking in there, I find SQL dumps from databases whose use I can't remember, a couple of ISO images, a list of Latin proverbs, savegames from Baldur's Gate, a couple full maildir trees full of emails, receipts from Christmas presents I bought online in 2003, and chat logs of people I haven't talked to in 5 years, among many other things.

Behold:

find CRAP | wc -l
273308

If I can look at 10 files every minute to figure out what they are, it would take me approximately 19 days of non-stop work just to identify all of these files, let alone do something useful with them. And that's JUST THIS FOLDER. I have oh so many others. And that isn't considering that many files in this folder are archives containing other files.

The problem is when it comes time to do something with a file, I think to myself, why delete it? What if I need some of this stuff someday? I can keep all my files until my HD fills up, then spend a mere $100 and have space for another million files. But if I DID need something, there's no way I'd locate it in this mountain of stuff. And I will never need 99% of this crap. I haven't needed it in the past decade, and the chances of my needing it are only decreasing over time.

But I can't bring myself to delete it. Today I burned everything to DVDs and rm -rf'ed the lot of it as a compromise. The files still exist, but at least I can hide them in a drawer. And why do I feel like I'm just making room for a new scrap heap to begin?

February 02, 2008 @ 10:07 AM PST
Cateogory: Rants

4 Comments

numerodix
Quoth numerodix on February 02, 2008 @ 1:03 PM PST

It sounds like you need google on your disk. Or better yet the semantic desktop, so why don't you bring up dolphin with CRAP/ and start tagging files :)

ph0enix
Quoth ph0enix on February 02, 2008 @ 2:12 PM PST

The above comment is useful but why tie yourself to just a file browser that can handle your files like that? Think in terms of a filesystem that does that sort of a thing for you. Think WinFS (and I am not be sarcastic). I am sure you have heard about it. If not there is a wikipedia article.

That's exactly google's approach! Why delete stuff? Just make it more accessible, you might need it someday. I have lost trust in writing things to disposable media hence I just keep backups on several other harddrives.

numerodix
Quoth numerodix on February 02, 2008 @ 10:34 PM PST

ph0enix: KDE's nepomuk sort of is WinFS.

ph0enix
Quoth ph0enix on February 03, 2008 @ 1:20 PM PST

numerdoix: That's awesome! I didn't know such a thing existed.