Data Storage Issues (And Solutions) | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

Data Storage Issues (And Solutions)

Ten to fifteen years ago, we would struggle to fill up those seemingly huge 20 GB disks that were available for a rather high price. For many of us, all of our accumulated resources, including music, videos, and photographs could easily fit on modest DVD discs.

Today, the hundreds of gigabytes of storage on our computers, smartphones, and tablets, and in the cloud are not enough for us. We are constantly buying additional external drives and cloud space to fill them with things that we collect all the time. But this growing volume of data creates can create more problem than benefits. In this post, we explore those issues and discuss what can be done.

Too much data for storage and backup

The first pressing issue is storage. Inexpensive internet access and relatively cheap storage devices have led us to turn ourselves into digital collectors. We keep everything that makes its way onto our device, including movies, music, photos, programs, and more. All of this accumulates, taking up storage space, slowing down the device itself, and even forcing us to purchase additional storage devices.

And what if one of these devices breaks down? Backup is the obvious solution, but external hard drives can be expensive (if you’re planning on storing all your data) and time-consuming to manage.

An alternative method to physical storage is cloud storage, where your data is located on highly reliable external servers accessible from any connected device. While this sounds like an ideal solution, this too, can quickly get pricey.

For example, Dropbox provides only 2 GB of space for free. Some other cloud storage platforms can offer 10 to 20 times more, but either way, you’ll typically have to pay a lot for additional space. For example, 1 TB with Dropbox will set you back $99 per year. One solution is to use several free accounts, but it’s far from convenient to have your backup spread across multiple platforms.

Too much data to send back and forth

Another potential problem with a huge amount of data is transferring it back and forth. If you own a Mac computer or iOS device, you have the always-on backup option which makes transfer to the cloud simple and effortless.

But for many other devices, it’s a different story. For example, it can be complex and time-consuming to transfer all the data from an old computer to a new one, especially if you have an extensive collection of files. The fastest way to do this is to create a peer-to-peer connection using a fast wireless network or network cable. However, unless you’re doing a full disk transfer, you still have the issue of spending time locating all the files you want to port.

And what if you don’t find all the files you’re looking for or forget something important? This heralds the emergence of the third problem.

Too much to lose

We collect masses of data on our devices, with everything from documents and photos, to games and other applications. It might seem that if all these things are stored on the device we work on, then they are safe.

However, a device could deteriorate in a moment for a variety of reasons, and human error could cause problems too. Important folders may accidentally end up in the recycle bin and valuable documents can seemingly disappear, and that is just the tip of the iceberg.

There are malicious programs that can encrypt or destroy your data in just a second, often without any possibility of recovery. Whether it’s an important work document or a collection of holiday photos, the loss of certain data can be a huge blow.

How to handle data storage effectively

So what can be done to resolve the issues associated with data storage? With a bit of organization and the right tools in place, you can get a handle on your data and avoid overpaying for storage or risking the loss of important files. Here are our top tips:

1) Get organized

If you simply dump everything in one or several folders and suddenly realize 500 GB of data has accumulated on your hard disk, finding important files will likely be a challenge. If you haven’t done so yet, now is as good a time as any to review your storage strategy and resources.

Sort files into categories, for example, work, home, private, old archive, and so on. Every time you save a new file, make sure it follows your system and try to avoid dumping everything in a general folder or on your desktop.

2) Don’t collect everything on your hard drive

The habit of storing all of your desired content on your device used to be the norm, and with unreliable internet connections and no wifi, it was often necessary. But now that we live in a time of fast and cheap Internet access, there are alternatives. For example, you can watch your favorite TV shows or listen to a new song online in just a few clicks. Even if you need to access content while you’re offline, downloading them as needed from the web in advance is quick and simple.

What’s more, there are usually files that you don’t need to access frequently, but you need to keep safe. Sending them to the cloud or saving them on an external storage device can help keep valuable laptop or tablet storage space free.

3) Protect important files

The more important the folder is, the stronger the protection should be. I recommend storing your most important files, for example, scans of travel documents, financial data, electronic passwords, and other similar information on a device that is not connected to the internet all the time. An external hard drive is a cheap and effective solution, although it should be stored in a separate location from your primary device in case of fire or other physical damage.

Keeping files in an encrypted form can serve as additional protection. You can encrypt files yourself without using additional tools. For example, Windows allows encrypting any file or folder. To do this, just right-click the desired folder or file and go to Properties > General > Advanced. Then check the Encrypt contents to secure data option and click OK.

When data is not of great value to cybercriminals and you need it to be accessible, then cloud storage is a great option. These services typically enable you to access your files from multiple devices and offer features such as automatic backups and syncing across devices. A couple of solid options for cloud storage are iDrive and Backblaze.

For any data transfer, it is desirable to use encryption. Most cloud storage systems already protect in-transit data, but you could use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to add an additional layer of protection. This software encrypts all internet traffic flowing to and from your device and tunnels it through an intermediary server. When choosing a VPN, look out for one that respects customer privacy and keeps no logs of user activity or personally identifiable information.

3) Clean up regularly

Over time, your device can become littered with files and folders that you’ve never used or even knew about, including redundant copies of documents or old versions of software. In this case, it’s a good idea to use a special software program that will automatically find such unnecessary documents, as well as clear the cache. Windows’ native Disc Clean-up is pretty effective, as is CCleaner which has apps for Windows, MacOS, and Android.

You could also devise your own cleanup methods. For example, I use a very simple but effective method to find unused, large files: sort all the documents by size and date of the last change. Such a review always allows me to increase my free space, sometimes by 20 GB.


There is no doubt that the whole process of organizing, storing, and protecting your data can be a difficult task. But if you get a system going and stick to it, and utilize some of the great tools you have at your disposal, you can declutter your device and keep the important things safe.