I’ve come into a real conundrum lately. I’m running out of space on my hard drive. Earlier in the year when I thought my hard drive was dying, I bought an external drive which I use to move old files for storage and back up my current system. The problem is that using the external hard drive as a working drive is not an ideal solution when my primary (read: only) computer at the moment is a portable notebook. Thus, I don’t want to be using the external hard drive to store all of my music and photography, the two leading classifications of files taking up the majority of my hard drive space.

There was a large chunk of time when my desktop was my only computer, so carrying all my music on a laptop wasn’t an option. Luckily, I had a functioning ipod at the time so I could have most of my music to listen to wherever I went. At 8 years of age, my ipod has finally bit the dust and I just haven’t been motivated to buy a new one since neither of our cars would support it without purchasing an FM transmitter. At work, if I want to listen to music, I simply plug my headphones into the laptop and on those rare occasions that I want to listen to something while being completely mobile, I’ll put it on my phone. Keeping my music collection on an external hard drive means I can only listen to my music at work or at home. I do not wish to transport my external drive back and forth. Thus my music, which only ammounts to about 40 GB, will stay on the local hard drive.

Photos are another matter. Last I’ve checked, my iphoto library is over 60 GB large, and my lightroom library ammasses another 60 GB, give or take. I shoot RAW which preserves as much detail from the camera capture as possible without losing any of it during the editing process. When the post processing edits are finished, I export as a high quality Jpeg which can be used universally in a number of programs. Think of the RAW files as digital negatives and the Jpegs as prints. I organize my JPEG collection in iPhoto because of its integration with the operating system, and the RAW photos with lightroom because lightroom is also a powerful RAW editor and converter.

Every year, I export my raw library to the external hard drive, freeing up space on my local drive for the next year’s batch of photos. Meanwhile, I keep the full collection of JPEGs on the local drive, backed up on the external, so that I can view them and use them at will. I also want to keep the most current set of RAW files on the local drive so that I’m not constrained to where and when I can work on them. As it is, I’m constrained to accessing older RAW files to when I’m at work, and sometimes that is a pain.

So, as I’ve said before, I’m running out of hard drive space. I have less than 20 GB free and that is causing performance issues with the machine as well. When I upgraded the RAM from 2GB to 8GB, it was like breathing new life into the computer. It ran smooth and fast. But as my free hard drive space diminished, so did that extra speed. You see, the operating system uses some of that hard drive space as extra “virtual” RAM, and as free hard drive space decreases, so does the ability to cache temporary information. As a result, I’ve filled up my alloted RAM space on a few large projects essentially grinding my computer to a halt.

The solution would be to buy a new hard drive with more space. Unfortunately, I’m also running out of money. So that 1TB drive that now only costs $100  is $100 out of my price range. I may have to bite the bullet and do it anyway becaue I’m beginning to run out of options.