But… what if I NEED it?

I’m such a packrat.

There is at least 25 gigs of data on my hard drive(s) that is ancient, out-of-date, and for which I can imagine no possible future use. But just because I can’t imagine it doesn’t mean it’s not there, somewhere. Old email from my Novell days (including ancient correspondece with Schlock fans) tops the list…

I would like permission to throw all this away. PLEASE.

68 thoughts on “But… what if I NEED it?”

  1. Sure. No problem. It’s old, it’s obsolete, it’s taking up space, it’s a distraction to think about, and the chance that you’ll ever need any of it is so small that considerations of the Planck limit have to be invoked when trying to measure it.

    So by all means, throw it away! You’ve got MY permission.

  2. Sure. No problem. It’s old, it’s obsolete, it’s taking up space, it’s a distraction to think about, and the chance that you’ll ever need any of it is so small that considerations of the Planck limit have to be invoked when trying to measure it.

    So by all means, throw it away! You’ve got MY permission.

  3. Burn it to DVD, stick the discs in an envelope and stash it in your filing cabinet, then delete the data off your drive.
    You’ll free the space, while still satisfying the “but what if I -need- something?” itch at the back of your mind.

    1. That’s be my solution too. But I only finally threw out some old floppy disks once I no longer had a floppy drive on any machine. And that was long after any of the floppies had anything on them that could possibly be useful, or that I even had the programs I would have needed to access them.

    2. Why?

      So let me get this straight. You want him to free up virtual space on his hard drive by using real world space in his file cabinet.

      Instead of having junk on his drive… He’s going to have junk in his drawer… that’s much better.

      What will it compress to? Or is that number compressed already?

      Me, I’m the type of person that saves odds and ends in the bottom of my tool box and then when I need said odds and ends I forget they are there and go buy more. In which case, makes me wonder why I saved them in the first place.

      The real question for me would be, does Howard know everything that’s there. In other words, if he has the need for something that’s there. When he has the need is he going to be able to go in and get what he needs? Or is he going to do something else cause he didn’t even know it was there. If that’s the case he should definately throw it out.

      If he knows exactly what it is and can find stuff in in quickly, it’s just not useful to him right now… Well hard drive space is around 10 Cents a Gig. CHEAP… So I’ld say no big deal to keep it.

      Robert

      1. Re: Why?

        I think you may have missed Howard’s real problem. It’s not that he’s worried about keeping this data; he wants to get rid of it. It’s not that the data is important. It’s not that drive-space is expensive in any way.
        The real issue is that he doesn’t want to have to THINK about this data anymore. And Howard’s brain cycles are way more expensive than hard drive space, or discs, or filing cabinets.
        My solution gives him a slow motion alternative to just going ahead and deleting it all, thus satisfying his mental reservations about possibly needing something from it.

        1. Re: Why?

          Funny, you see something like this and you start applying your situation to it. I have a tendency to save everything cause I might use it someday. My hard drives and my drawers are full of junk I’ll never use.

          I’ve been making a concerted effort to empty my real space of junk I’m not going to use. So I guess I just applied my situation to Howards problem. But I can see where you’re coming form.

          Robert

  4. Burn it to DVD, stick the discs in an envelope and stash it in your filing cabinet, then delete the data off your drive.
    You’ll free the space, while still satisfying the “but what if I -need- something?” itch at the back of your mind.

    1. That’s be my solution too. But I only finally threw out some old floppy disks once I no longer had a floppy drive on any machine. And that was long after any of the floppies had anything on them that could possibly be useful, or that I even had the programs I would have needed to access them.

    2. Why?

      So let me get this straight. You want him to free up virtual space on his hard drive by using real world space in his file cabinet.

      Instead of having junk on his drive… He’s going to have junk in his drawer… that’s much better.

      What will it compress to? Or is that number compressed already?

      Me, I’m the type of person that saves odds and ends in the bottom of my tool box and then when I need said odds and ends I forget they are there and go buy more. In which case, makes me wonder why I saved them in the first place.

      The real question for me would be, does Howard know everything that’s there. In other words, if he has the need for something that’s there. When he has the need is he going to be able to go in and get what he needs? Or is he going to do something else cause he didn’t even know it was there. If that’s the case he should definately throw it out.

      If he knows exactly what it is and can find stuff in in quickly, it’s just not useful to him right now… Well hard drive space is around 10 Cents a Gig. CHEAP… So I’ld say no big deal to keep it.

      Robert

      1. Re: Why?

        I think you may have missed Howard’s real problem. It’s not that he’s worried about keeping this data; he wants to get rid of it. It’s not that the data is important. It’s not that drive-space is expensive in any way.
        The real issue is that he doesn’t want to have to THINK about this data anymore. And Howard’s brain cycles are way more expensive than hard drive space, or discs, or filing cabinets.
        My solution gives him a slow motion alternative to just going ahead and deleting it all, thus satisfying his mental reservations about possibly needing something from it.

        1. Re: Why?

          Funny, you see something like this and you start applying your situation to it. I have a tendency to save everything cause I might use it someday. My hard drives and my drawers are full of junk I’ll never use.

          I’ve been making a concerted effort to empty my real space of junk I’m not going to use. So I guess I just applied my situation to Howards problem. But I can see where you’re coming form.

          Robert

    1. Indeed so.

      Every time I do a machine upgrade, I keep the content of the old discs, somewhere on the new ones, ‘just in case’. A software archaeologist could go back about 20 years on my work PC.

      That plenty of the programs thereon won’t actually run under XP is a minor problem.

      1. I overcome this packratism by buying an entirely new drive every so often. The old data stays on the old drive as a kind of backup, while -needed- data get copied forward to the new drive.

      2. My wife gives me a hard time about the directories on her machine:
        d:\oldc\oldc\oldc\oldc\(stuff)

        Yes, that’s 5 machines. The current one and the previous 4. There are matching oldd directories; I set my machines up with nothing but apps and OS on C: so I can just reimage it as needed without losing data.

    1. Indeed so.

      Every time I do a machine upgrade, I keep the content of the old discs, somewhere on the new ones, ‘just in case’. A software archaeologist could go back about 20 years on my work PC.

      That plenty of the programs thereon won’t actually run under XP is a minor problem.

      1. I overcome this packratism by buying an entirely new drive every so often. The old data stays on the old drive as a kind of backup, while -needed- data get copied forward to the new drive.

      2. My wife gives me a hard time about the directories on her machine:
        d:\oldc\oldc\oldc\oldc\(stuff)

        Yes, that’s 5 machines. The current one and the previous 4. There are matching oldd directories; I set my machines up with nothing but apps and OS on C: so I can just reimage it as needed without losing data.

  5. I try not to delete anything. I have nearly 4Tb of network storage. Emails, web-pages I’ve found useful, stuff like that.

    I don’t consider DVDs to be a viable long-term (5+ years) option. DVD’s I’ve made in 2004 had already decayed were unusable by 2007. I’ve heard good things about Kodak’s archival-grade DVD, maybe I’ll give them a shot.

    So, if I’m really sure I want to keep something, I make sure I have a copy of it on at least two different hard drives. Wasteful? Perhaps, but magnetic bits are cheap.

    1. That’s exactly why I made the suggestion I did. If no need for the data has been discovered before the useful longevity of the pigment in the burnable media, then both the disc and the data are garbage.

  6. I try not to delete anything. I have nearly 4Tb of network storage. Emails, web-pages I’ve found useful, stuff like that.

    I don’t consider DVDs to be a viable long-term (5+ years) option. DVD’s I’ve made in 2004 had already decayed were unusable by 2007. I’ve heard good things about Kodak’s archival-grade DVD, maybe I’ll give them a shot.

    So, if I’m really sure I want to keep something, I make sure I have a copy of it on at least two different hard drives. Wasteful? Perhaps, but magnetic bits are cheap.

    1. That’s exactly why I made the suggestion I did. If no need for the data has been discovered before the useful longevity of the pigment in the burnable media, then both the disc and the data are garbage.

    1. Plus, the amount of time he’s probably spent thinking about it is more than it costs him to just store it.

      Just keep it. Doesn’t hurt. Data storage is ridiculously cheap and getting ridiculously cheaper.

    1. Plus, the amount of time he’s probably spent thinking about it is more than it costs him to just store it.

      Just keep it. Doesn’t hurt. Data storage is ridiculously cheap and getting ridiculously cheaper.

  7. The impression that I’m getting is that its not the lack of space that is affecting you, rather the unnecessary usage of space. Going on this presumption many of the alternatives you’ve been given are just unnecessary work/cost. In an effort to save you time, money, AND space I shall instead just tell you to dump the nonsense and move onto the next real dilemma. Permission granted.

  8. The impression that I’m getting is that its not the lack of space that is affecting you, rather the unnecessary usage of space. Going on this presumption many of the alternatives you’ve been given are just unnecessary work/cost. In an effort to save you time, money, AND space I shall instead just tell you to dump the nonsense and move onto the next real dilemma. Permission granted.

  9. Like they said… burn to DVD. 25 gigs = 6 DVDs.

    Peace of mind = cheap.

    I’d advise against buying bigger HDs to store data you’re unlikely to need… everytime you search for something, scan for viruses, have to format and install… it’s a pain in the backside. Just burn to DVD and store somewhere, clearly labeled, and forget about it.

  10. Like they said… burn to DVD. 25 gigs = 6 DVDs.

    Peace of mind = cheap.

    I’d advise against buying bigger HDs to store data you’re unlikely to need… everytime you search for something, scan for viruses, have to format and install… it’s a pain in the backside. Just burn to DVD and store somewhere, clearly labeled, and forget about it.

  11. Archive – don’t ever delete.

    It’s a guaranty that within a week – two tops – of your getting rid of something that you will end up needing it.

    My worst example of this: two years ago I finally cleaned out all of my DOS era development tools – many different bands and versions of compilers, linkers, symbolic debuggers, etc. In less than two weeks I got a call from a “friend of a friend” who desperately needed these tools to update an old project, and they had been told that I was the go-to person for such!

  12. Archive – don’t ever delete.

    It’s a guaranty that within a week – two tops – of your getting rid of something that you will end up needing it.

    My worst example of this: two years ago I finally cleaned out all of my DOS era development tools – many different bands and versions of compilers, linkers, symbolic debuggers, etc. In less than two weeks I got a call from a “friend of a friend” who desperately needed these tools to update an old project, and they had been told that I was the go-to person for such!

  13. shortcircuit@dodo~
    01:10:00 $ du -sh archived/
    173G archived/
    shortcircuit@dodo~
    01:10:13 $

    Is there a self-help group for digital packratism somewhere?

    1. I wish my old data were so neatly segregated from my new. 🙂

      5792 ircd
      6532 recusant
      10512 kazriko
      15452 chalain
      16816 bw
      38712 espy
      81352 kernel
      320984 ordie

      The above are all former users of my computer who no longer have an account. I’ve never bothered to delete them.

      347376 silo
      585536 backup

      Various backups of windows systems that are long gone…

      700664 morlocka

      A backup of one of my wife’s computers, she’s probably forgotten she ever had this data.

      2644964 baux

      Long gone server from my college days. This is an image of its /home drive.

      7133888 shares
      11381588 media

      These two are more windows server backups…

      13199272 kaz

      An old home account that I don’t use anymore…

      20401164 music
      115930043 kazrikna

      my home directory and music directory, with archival data scattered amongst it. Lots of music that I don’t listen to and should have gotten rid of long ago, from when my roommate was using my system to store all his music…

      210182272 mythtv

      TV shows from when I was using MythTV. I stopped using it awhile back when I lost my cable hookup, but I haven’t gone though and dealt with the data yet.

      I’ve had the same /home drive continuously since about 1999… just push the data forward to the new linux box.

  14. shortcircuit@dodo~
    01:10:00 $ du -sh archived/
    173G archived/
    shortcircuit@dodo~
    01:10:13 $

    Is there a self-help group for digital packratism somewhere?

    1. I wish my old data were so neatly segregated from my new. 🙂

      5792 ircd
      6532 recusant
      10512 kazriko
      15452 chalain
      16816 bw
      38712 espy
      81352 kernel
      320984 ordie

      The above are all former users of my computer who no longer have an account. I’ve never bothered to delete them.

      347376 silo
      585536 backup

      Various backups of windows systems that are long gone…

      700664 morlocka

      A backup of one of my wife’s computers, she’s probably forgotten she ever had this data.

      2644964 baux

      Long gone server from my college days. This is an image of its /home drive.

      7133888 shares
      11381588 media

      These two are more windows server backups…

      13199272 kaz

      An old home account that I don’t use anymore…

      20401164 music
      115930043 kazrikna

      my home directory and music directory, with archival data scattered amongst it. Lots of music that I don’t listen to and should have gotten rid of long ago, from when my roommate was using my system to store all his music…

      210182272 mythtv

      TV shows from when I was using MythTV. I stopped using it awhile back when I lost my cable hookup, but I haven’t gone though and dealt with the data yet.

      I’ve had the same /home drive continuously since about 1999… just push the data forward to the new linux box.

  15. I deleted 30 meg of email in my active email client this week.

    But I kept all of my personal correspondence. I’m considering paring that down, but it’s so nice to be able to quickly search for old conversations.

    If you really want to not look at it anymore, stick a pocket USB drive with that data on it in a file folder in the archive drawer of your file cabinet. You’ll never want it again.

    (I’m not going to mention my multiple 250G external drives with backup data on them.)

  16. I deleted 30 meg of email in my active email client this week.

    But I kept all of my personal correspondence. I’m considering paring that down, but it’s so nice to be able to quickly search for old conversations.

    If you really want to not look at it anymore, stick a pocket USB drive with that data on it in a file folder in the archive drawer of your file cabinet. You’ll never want it again.

    (I’m not going to mention my multiple 250G external drives with backup data on them.)

  17. TigerDirect has 100G hard drives for under $100. You can buy a USB/SATA docking station to quick add/remove drives for another $40.

    1) Buy the drive and enclosure.
    2) Put the data on the drive
    3) Put the drive back in the bag and file away.

    Now, if every you want to refer to the information, you just pull the drive out and access it.

    Easy as 3.1415926535897932384626433832795028841971…

  18. TigerDirect has 100G hard drives for under $100. You can buy a USB/SATA docking station to quick add/remove drives for another $40.

    1) Buy the drive and enclosure.
    2) Put the data on the drive
    3) Put the drive back in the bag and file away.

    Now, if every you want to refer to the information, you just pull the drive out and access it.

    Easy as 3.1415926535897932384626433832795028841971…

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