Slim & Trim: Digital Storage Dieting

I have a philosophy when it comes to dieting: I don’t. Rather, I simply refuse to buy clothes that are larger. If my pants feel a bit snug, I may eat less of what I normally eat but I won’t go on any “diet” that requires me to change for life. I’ll definitely exercise more. It’s worked for me thus far so I thought I’d apply the same philosophy to my digital storage.

While cleaning out my closet, it dawned on me that I have well over a terabyte of storage spread out over several hard drives (some of which probably no longer function). Mind you, a terabyte is nothing nowadays. All one need do is backup a DVD collection, uncompressed or otherwise, and that DROBO has reached it’s maximum. Throw in the music collection, photo collection, and, well, before too long I need to buy bigger pants – er, hard drives. And I did, gleefully. It’s how I ended up with 1TB of storage and the binary equivalent of a severe case of compulsive hoarding. That’s where the “No New Pants” philosophy comes into play.

Instead of buying more and more hard drives, I’ve actually started to discard stuff. Podcasts were the first to go. (The curious thing is, iTunes is set to delete my podcasts automatically. It doesn’t. I have to look into that.) Why keep them? Archival purposes? No. Their owners do that already and usually make them readily available via their respective sites. And does one really need to know about technology and goings-on from several years ago? Sure, I may one day miss The Totally Rad Show and Tekzilla. I mean I do miss The Screen Savers and I really wish I could’ve recorded Ground Force when it was on originally. Okay, getting off topic. Suffice it to say, they just don’t fit into my pants. Wait. That kind of sounds wrong. Well, you know what I mean.

Once podcasts were eradicated, I moved on to the music collection to discard The Unlistened. You know of The Unlistented. They are ubiquitous. Their moniker is the only prerequisite for becoming a part of this (rather depressing) society. They are kin to The Unwatched. If a music file (be it FLAC, mp3, AAC, etc.) becomes an initiate, it’s slated for The Purge. Of course, as a compulsive hoarder, throwing things out can be oddly difficult. It’s very, very easy to rationalize keeping something. Anything. The “No New Pants” philosophy suffers greatly from the “I Might Need That One Day” syndrome. Oh yes. IMNTOD can manifest when you least expect it. That German underground techno-pop infusion experiment that you heard a sampling of in the 90s and absolutely had to own but haven’t listened to since? Logic dictates that you get rid of it. You’re never going to listen to it. And yet, somewhere in the back of your mind you begin to wonder if it might one day be used in some kind of art-house indie film you have no intention of actually making but might use and should therefore hold on to it “just in case.”

Ah, good ol’ Justin Case. A dear friend to the well-prepared everywhere. As the saying goes, “Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.” Unfortunately, Justin is the hired gun of the IMNTOD Conglomerate. Together they pounce, particularly when visiting Fry’s. You find yourself staring longingly at new hard drives. Justin Case et al, whispering in your ear. Fortunately, the Almighty Dollar – or lack thereof – trumps all. “No New Pants” is quickly reapplied and The Purge continues.

At this point, organizing my music collection makes me feel a little like Wall-E. So much clutter. So much junk. For the most part, I’ve stopped collecting until it’s all organized and I’ve freed up the requisite space to actually acquire music I’ll listen to and enjoy. Until it, too, becomes a member of The Unlistened and the cycle begins anew.

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