Have you seen the TV show hoarders? The one where they show people’s houses crammed with junk from floor to ceiling. Where navigating through the house without tripping over things is nearly impossible. Where garbage lays rotting under layers of other garbage.
Although I keep a pretty neat and tidy home with my material possessions at a minimum, my virtual world is swimming in a sea of junk – copies of copies backed up all over the place. I keep every single e-mail. My Outlook mailbox size is a whopping 13.5gb and climbing. The next closest competitor here is a mere 4.5gb. Separate from the e-mails, I save every file received and sent for every project I work on. I archive projects on a regular basis any time I’m about to make significant changes, on the off chance that I might want to go back to a previous version (and typically recommend this to customers I consult with). This is in addition to the nightly, weekly, and monthly backups of our servers.
While there have been numerous occasions in which my rat-packery has helped me answer a question or quickly retrieve lost work, I’m making the life of the person managing our backups continually more difficult. As discussed in this Wikipedia article on Data Profliferation, such hoarding comes at a price. Hard drive space is cheap, but managing data expansion is not, nor is the increasing difficulty of finding what you need.
Unfortunately, I am at a loss for any clear, simple solutions. Perhaps I should make a New Years resolution to do a better job of cleaning up after myself. Perhaps I need to take better advantage of Etransmit in AutoCAD when archiving. Perhaps I need to happily accept reality, that I will forever be a data hoarder, and hope that technology will build me the appropriate 12 step program.