One question my friends ask when they see me with my Acer Aspire One netbook is: What can you really do with a computer that small? The answer is usually: Most of what you can do with your big honking laptop.
One area where their huge machines win the "mine is bigger than yours" game is when it comes to disk space. My AAO has a mere 8GB Solid State drive and, since installing Windows 7, I've used more of the drive than ever before. The optimized install left me with a mere 1.3 GB of space on the internal drive which, in the age of terabytes, can seem a little scary. How long can I go before I've filled the entire drive and Windows decides to not like it?
In order to preserve as much of the space as possible on the SSD, I've set a simple rule for myself: Don't install applications on the SSD! (with only 2 exceptions)
First, the exceptions: Google Chrome and Firefox. Since it IS a netbook I figured I should install the browsers directly on the main drive to allow for maximum performance. To prevent the browsers from hogging all of the space I've limited them to 5 days of history (down from 90) which drastically reduces the amount of data they will store (and gives both browsers a nice performance boost at startup!)
I install all other applications on the 4GB SD card that I've had in the AAO since the day I got it. You see, the AAO has 2 SD readers: 1 that was originally intended to extend the SSD and 1 that is meant to be a regular use card reader. I keep the 4GB card in the "extend the SSD" slot even though my Windows 7 environment treats it like a regular USB reader. I've got folders for the applications as well as my document, download, and other miscellaneous folders.
Anytime I download an application, I save the file to the Download directory on the SD card (I've also configured my browsers to save to this folder by default so I don't accidentally start filling up the SSD.) When I install, I don't let the installer determine the location. I manually pick a new folder on my SD card. Additionally, I've gotten out of the habit of installing default features. I review all of the options available for the custom install and only pick the features that I actually use. You'd be surprised how much space you can save by NOT installing functionality meant for other languages!
Another way I save space is to put media in its proper place:
Don't let photos take up your drive space: Utilize an online photo sharing service like flickr, facebook, or if you're a Google user, Picasa.
Don't let videos hang around either: Honestly, are you really doing video production on an 8GB netbook? Load those videos to Vimeo, Viddler, or YouTube to reclaim that space.
How many copies of the same song do you need on your person at any one time? It's great to have a massive music library so you'll never have to listen to the same song twice, but keep your music on your mp3 player (or your G1, iPhone, iPod) and leave the backups at home! An external USB drive is a great way to keep your music library safely backed up.
So, I'm going to keep happily trucking along with my 1.2 GB of space on my internal SSD and if anything comes up, I'll let you know!
How do you maximize your digital storage space? Post in the comments!
Image by seeks2dream