Big data is getting bigger. Data storage centers are opening at an increasing rate, and it seems that data on our home and business systems is spilling over, causing us to look for more storage options. But before you start hoarding data because you can, think closely about what you really need—its’ likely that those photos of your grandparent’s wedding will be a little more important than Uncle John’s favorite “bum fights” video, and your company’s tax data is probably way more important than Jenny-from-accounting’s complex maze of cat videos clogging the company servers.
Award winning science-fiction author Phillip K. Dick coined the useful term “kipple” in his 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Kipple refers to “…useless objects like junk mail, or match folders after your use the last match…” but for our purpose, useless data.
A new computer from a big-box computer store will already be pre-loaded with awful games, trial versions of unimportant software, and other hidden things you don’t need. According to an article by Microsoft, most users only use about 10% of the software loaded on their computer. A whopping 90% of your programs are likely useless; couple those with cat and bum fight videos, and we as a nation have an awful lot of digital kipple.
“The first law of kipple is kipple drives out non-kipple.” The more useless stuff you have on your computer, the less space you have for the important things, and the slower your computer will go. While it’s not likely an issue to appear on the popular A&E program Hoarders (or maybe not yet), data hoarding is likely a habit you’ve seen in parents, friends, and maybe, yourself, Microsoft has a few suggestions you can use so your computer doesn’t become entrenched in digital kipple.
Uninstall programs from the Control Panel or from the All Programs list, there are likely programs that are eating up your space.
There are free safety scans available online that will help you clean your registry, and also make sure you’re free of spyware and viruses.
Begin by deleting documents, Bum Fight videos, old cat emails, and other kipple files. Everything you just deleted goes in the recycle bin so you must empty it for a permanent delete. You can also delete any original .zip or .exe files you downloaded, and remove temporary files that you no longer need. Just go to Computer, right click the hard disk you want to clean, click Properties, then Disk Cleanup.
Physical kipple is also a growing problem. According to Frontline, a lot of our physical kipple (old hard drives, keyboards, monitors) end up in China or Ghana where locals boil them down for precious metals and organized criminals can salvage hard drives and comb them for personal information; just because you’ve thrown it out doesn’t mean the data is gone, so it’s important to wipe those hard drives and eliminate data.
Where you put your data is important, but which data to keep is likely the first step you need to take in consolidating your data. You may find that you don’t need that extra space after all. Just don’t tell Uncle John you deleted his videos.