As I am wont to do I am considering consolidating back to a single computer and saying goodbye to my prized 27” iMac. I purchased a Retina MacBook Pro after the WWDC Keynote and love the machine. I also want to have everything with me wherever I go. While sync has become something I no longer have to concern myself with thanks to Dropbox, it is still somewhat frustrating to have portions of my computing life, namely media, spread between two machines.
I took some time this evening to analyze how much stuff is actually in my home directory and it’s far more than the 512GB SSD my laptop affords me. My iTunes library is packed to the brim with music, movies1 and television shows I keep telling myself I am going to watch.
In the case of music, I have alleviated this mostly by switching to Rdio and paying for iTunes Match. One of these solutions is far more reliable than the other, which I’ll leave as an exercise for you fine readers of this site.
Movies and television are a burden in terms of disk space and when I travel it is frustrating how difficult it becomes to sync a new movie to my iPad before a trip if all I have is my laptop, rather than the iMac that my iPad syncs with.
The biggest hurdle of them all, however, is photos.
I have nearly 13,000 photos in my Aperture library spanning all the way back to 2000 when I purchased my first digital camera. Since then, I have documented a variety of important (and mundane) life moments. Almost as important, I have meticulously organized this library of images over the years so I can easily find what I’m looking for any time I browse through the collection.
As my photo library grows, however, the amount of available disk space on my machine shrinks. In this brave new world of SSDs where 512GB is a luxury and 256GB is more the reality, every megabyte is precious once more.
Of those 12,000 photos in my library, I’m sure at a minimum 25% are complete garbage. More realistically, up to half probably aren’t worth their weight in megabytes.
As I switched from point-and-shoot to DSLRs I became a much more liberal shooter often taking multiple shots of the same scene in order to give myself options. With the iPhone I’ve also become an even more prolific photographer snapping half a dozen or so photos a day through my daily travels. I look at the five years of iPhone photos I have as a low-level view of my life. Sometimes these photos capture the bigger moments in life, but usually they are little things that amuse me or photos of food.
Even though in my head I know that there are hundreds of duplicate photos, out of focus shots, and random things that just don’t matter I cannot bring myself to delete them. I have this fear that I’ll someday need that one photo again, will want to listen to that album I loved in high school or have this undying need to watch The Rock and will be filled with regret when I realize it’s no longer there because I was being picky about how much disk space it was taking up.
These are the weird things previous generations never had to worry about. My family has a giant box of family photos that is about as disorganized as a hoarder’s kitchen. When we want to look through our childhood memories, we pull out the box, grab a handful of prints and reminisce. Despite being filled with nearly a thousand photos, the box takes up little more than a shelf in a coat closet.2 My Aperture Library, on the other hand, would take up nearly 1/5 of the internal storage I have available to me in one of Apple’s top of the line portables.
Sure, I could solve this with external drives or just sticking with my iMac and its terabytes of spinning plates, but that still doesn’t solve the problem of having this irrational fear of deleting digital assets that are of little importance.
First world problem? Totally. But that’s what I do best.