Monday, 1 December 2008

Home Storage Management #1

My first-pass cleanup has focused on my laptop, which is my main work device.

I've already mentioned I segment data from applications by having a separate partition, in my case labelled L:\ for local. I also use offline files to map most of my data from a personal network share on my main file server.

The Offline Files feature enabled files from network file servers to be cached locally on a desktop or laptop for access when the PC is not connected to the network. As I travel a lot, Offline Files are essential for me and my local cache is quite large. However like a lot of people I choose to sync the whole of my network drive.

Using Treesize, I browsed the Offline Files cache, which is located by default in the CSC directory under the systemroot folder - in my case C:\Windows\CSC (CSC stands for Client Side Caching). A nice feature of Treesize is its ability to traverse the offline files folder directly as if it were a standard file system. That quickly allowed me to sort the offline files by size and type and immediately highlight some issues. I found;

  1. A directory called BackupToDiskTest which I'd used to test a backup product in 2005 (12GB of unwanted data).
  2. A large number of ISO files for software installation, which I moved to an archive directory on the main server.
  3. 2.7GB of home movie AVI files, subsequently moved to the main server.

Obviously I've been lazy in dumping everything into my own directory including data which I don't need offline. Now I didn't delete all of these files, however I did save space on my laptop drive, which is pretty limited at just over 103GB.

Rescanning the C:\ drive, I now found "System Volume Information". This is an area of disk used by Windows to store recovery information in the event that you need to restore your laptop to a previous known "good configuration". In my case, Windows was using 12.6GB of storage to retain my previous configuration details. Now, touch wood, I've never bothered to use the restore feature of Windows. I keep my machines pretty tidy and don't install a lot of test or junk software. The last restore point appeared to have been created by my virus scanner so I felt confident to delete the restore information. I did this by simply unchecking, applying and rechecking the drive letter in Control Panel -> System -> System Protection.

I also found a few other bits and pieces - some content in BBC iPlayer that had expired and could be deleted; 3.5GB of temp files in my local profile; another 5GB of home movie WMVs on my L: drive which I moved to the server.

So at the end of pass #1, things stand as follows;

Laptop C:\ Drive - capacity 103GB - allocated reduced from 75.4GB to 63.8GB (15%)

Laptop L:\ Drive - capacity 38.7GB - allocated reduced from 34.85GB to 24.1GB (31%)

I'm pleased with the savings, however there's a lot more to do. Each cleanup highlights new issues and I don't believe the Offline Files has reclaimed all of the files I moved. In money terms, the recovered space doesn't equate to anything of value, however it does mean as I move to consider online backups that I have only the relevant data being backed up - and that does translate into money.


Pete said...

That's a lot of work for incremental storage (and data) efficiency. That time is better spent on other things. Data management and search tools have gotten good enough to overcome most of the downside of keeping a lot of data.

Chris M Evans said...


It certainly is a lot of work; I've many years of simply moving data from one medium to another and its time to sort it out. Yes, the work will be disproportional, however the end game is to prove that processes can be applied and on a home environment, the savings will be small, on a large NAS environment hopefully they will be much more!