I spent much of the last two days organizing and reducing the number of my digital archive and software disks. I’m an organized person, when I archive work files I put a label on the disk and a list of contents on the case, and I have a system. Work files large enough to fill a disk get their own name, but most go into catch-all disks labeled Old Files. When I began with my first desktop Mac in 1994 I was saving things on floppy disks, then storing larger amounts on SyQuest disks, remember those? A bit later I was using Zip Disks, which I think held a whopping 100 MB. When CD burning became an option, I jumped on, happy to get 700 MB on one, it seemed a vast amount of space. But, as in all things computer, files kept getting larger, and when DVD burning began I moved to that, and again 4.3 GB seemed lots of room. This past weekend I archived about six months of work and it took up six DVDs. I know there are other options, removable hard drives for instance, but I like DVDs for now, I just have to make sure I have space for them.
The image above is “after,” I wish I’d thought to take a “before,” with piles of disks crammed everywhere, including the shelf above, but I’m sure you can imagine. Another thing that’s hampered neatness is the change in size for disk holders from the regular jewel-case to the much thinner type, which are handy since two of them fit in the space of one jewel-case. So, in addition to combining CDs onto one DVD, I had to move many disks into thin cases, and create new thin labels for those thin edges in Illustrator. But by far the most time-consuming thing is combining the files. For instance, I had Old Files 1-14 (1994 to 2004) on four CDs, and they’re now on one DVD. The process takes about an hour. I still have some things on CD, it just takes too long to do them all, but I did manage to fill an entire trash can with no longer needed disks and covers, so I think I did well, and there’s now plenty of room for more. Plus I eliminated a few other piles of out-of-date software installation disks, and disks people sent me with work files on them, something which doesn’t happen too often now, but used to. Oh, and I know burned disks have a shelf life, but I’ve yet to have one go bad on me, and the older files keep getting moved to newer media formats, so I think I’m okay. No doubt someone will come out with a new format in a few years that holds even more data, and I’ll go to that.
Creating order from chaos in the studio is one of those things that gives me a lot of personal satisfaction, even if I rarely use any of the material on the disks. When I need to, I know it’ll be a lot easier now.
And after typing the title of this post, I thought, “Someone in New York should have a Chinese restaurant named Chaos so all the jokers in town could order from it.” Come to think of it, a Greek deli would be even better…!