Sunday, December 20, 2009

Oh, you wonder where the disk space went...

Discovered this morning that my Vista machine (business accounting) which is a very low-use machine was generating an overly large backup (55Gig)... and it just seemed to keep growing and growing...

I did some digging and found that the c:/windows/system32/config/RegBack directory was over 7Gigs of space!

Looking at the files, it's clear that some process is regularly creating backups of the registry

and they just sit there, building up over time.

I know that disk space is cheap, but that's not the only resource involved with simply letting applications use as much disk space as they want. As the size of "stuff" on the disk grows, there's also a cost in other ways.
  1. The added time to transmit this stuff over the wire for backups increases. For example, even with a Gigabyte network installed, this takes time and eventually the window available for the backup is exceeded.
  2. The added cost of keeping copies of this stuff lying around, as in backup copies. The extra 7Gigs of space expands to roughly 21Gigs of space on my rotating disk backups.
  3. The added cost of purchasing and installing ever larger disks. My backup drives are beginning to reach capacity and this wasted space is definitely contributing to that.
  4. The added cost of computing cycles - and human wait time - when I need to find a file on my system. 
I wonder if these registry backups are ever used. And I'll bet that the programmers who put this together said to themselves: "Well, it's only a few Megs and disk space is cheap, so we'll just throw these out there in case we need them..." and didn't think about the fact that, over time, these 'few Megs' could turn into a real waste.

Nice idea to back things up automatically, but a little thought to the potential impact of such an approach and some automatic cleanup would definitely make for a better solution. Kinda makes you wish for a variation of the IBM System/360 Generation Data Groups where the operating system would keep a set number of files in a group, automatically re-numbering them as new ones were added.

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