Draft:Living on 128 GB

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About this article

This article provides suggestions for working with the smaller local storage capacity that often accompanies the switch from a standard to a Solid State Drive. It is intended for all WSU students and employees who are making a switch to an ultrabook platform with a 128 GB solid state drive and are concerned that they might run out of storage space.

How much storage space do I actually have on a 128 GB hard drive?

Both the HP EliteBook 840 and the Apple MacBook Air have 128 GB hard drives. However, not all of this space will be available to you for storage purposes. The operating system and pre-installed software occupy some of that space. Right out of the box, the new laptops have the following amount of free hard drive space:

  • HP EliteBook 840 = 90 GB
  • MacBook Air = 105 GB

How much am I storing on my old laptop's hard drive?

To determine whether having less hard drive capacity will be an immediate problem, check how much space you are using on your current laptop. You just need a rough estimate at this point. If this is well under 90 GB (PC) or 105 GB (Mac), then you don't need to take any additional steps before you start restoring your data and applications to your new laptop. However, now is a great time to rethink what you store on your laptop hard drive and why.

A new look at laptop file storage

Many people use their laptop hard drive as their primary storage space for all of their files. Although secure, this location is actually one of the least reliable. Laptop hard drives fail all the time. Laptops are dropped, crushed, lost, sat upon, doused with assorted beverages, left in the hot sun, and subjected to many other abuses that can render the hard drive unusable. If your laptop was to fall into the river right now, how much valuable data would you lose? The answer should be, "none." In order to achieve this state of device independence, you need to do the following:

  • Start treating your laptop hard drive as a work space and not a permanent storage space. None of your important files should exist only on your laptop.
  • Start using campus network storage and cloud storage. WSU provides students and employees with several network storage spaces located here on campus. In addition, our Microsoft Office 365 license provides everyone with a 1 TB OneDrive for Business storage space in the cloud.
  • Invest in a good External Hard Drive, but be careful. These drives can be just as unreliable, if not more so, than your laptop hard drive. They suffer from all the problems of laptop hard drives and, because they are so small, they often get bounced around in backpacks, run through the washing machine, left in hotel rooms, and pocketed by ne'er do wells.

What if I have too much stuff?

If you have more data and applications than will fit on your new laptop, you will need to take some steps to manage things. Hopefully, you have followed some of the suggestions offered in the

Step 1: Restore work-related data and applications first

Your first priority is to restore your new laptop such that you are work functional. The restoration of your personal data such as your private iTunes music collection and your family photos and videos can be tabled until after you get your laptop set up for work.

Step 1: Determine what's occupying the most space

It might be obvious what's taking up the most space on your current hard drive or you may need to do a little investigation. Work-related files (e.g., documents, spreadsheets) are typically the least likely to take up space. It's usually multimedia of a personal nature. Here are some common space hogs:

  • iTunes music library
  • My Photo Stream folder or equivalent folders containing digital photos
  • Downloads folder
  • Video files
  • Installed games and saved game folders
  • Large, installed applications (e.g., Photoshop)
  • Cached Outlook mailbox
  • Old backups

Step 2: Categorize your personal data

If you use Outlook, take a look at your mailbox

If you use the Outlook mail client (i.e., not the Web version), open it up and take a look at your mailbox. If you have mail dating back to the Stone Age, chances are good that your mail is taking up an enourmous amount of space

Step 1: Check your WSU mailbox

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