16 January 2013

Hard drive crap

While I was out of the office sick for a while, I attended to some mindless tasks that always get put off in the rush of the day practicing law.  One was to run a full system scan, which takes a bit more than two hours.  It turns out that my laptop's little hard drive has about 1.3 million files on it.

Another was to delete duplicate working copies of documents that are also on the client document server at work that I had made over the last couple of years when I needed to work in places where it wasn't accessible (yes, there are places in the United States that lack internet access!).  There were about 5 gigabytes of this, and a similar amount of data that one of the utility programs on the computer advised me were safe to delete.

After that rush of destruction, there were about 72 gigabytes on my hard drive, of which about 17 gigabytes were documents (tens of thousands of files, about two-thirds of which were inactive client files not ready for destruction and the rest of which were files I actually might use somewhat regularly) and the other 55 gigabytes of which were the operating system and programs.

So, about 98% of the files on my hard drive and about three-quarters of the hard drive space in use, consists of the operating system and programs that I don't understand at all and don't dare interact with via the file folders on the hard drive, even though I can.

When a look at the top level folders on my hard drive, four have incomprehensible long more or less random strings of numbers and letters, three look like they might make sense to someone with a CS degree but mean nothing to me (BAT Files, Intel, PerfLogs, and SwSetup), and four make some kind of sense to me (Program Files, Program Files(x86), Users and Windows). 

The program files folders even have subfolders that correspond to computer programs that I use and understand to some extent.  The Users folder has my documents in it, which I understand perfectly well.  But, the Windows folder, while temptingly understandable at the top level folder level as the operating system, is a heart of darkness and incomprehensive files and file names and subfolders in vast numbers once you open it up.

A few bits seem to make sense, like "Fonts" folder, but others, like SysWOW32, winsxs, and twain_32 are utter mysteries and the files within them often have long random strings of numbers and letters for names.

In the interest of my psychological well being, I tell myself that all of the incomprehensible crap on my hard drive probably has some essential purposes that shouldn't be messed with, but my aethestic sensibilities are offended.  A tool that I rely upon every day for my livelihood (and a great deal of entertainment), should not be so unfathomably complex that I don't even have a remote idea what parts that are placed prominently in ways that make it possible for me to interact with them do.  I may not know how to fix my car, a vastly simpler machine, but at least I know more or less what all the parts that go into it are for, and even the names of most of them.

It also stinks to high heaven of sloppy, lazy, software design by companies like Microsoft that have gotten fat and lazy.  Even if this mess is unavoidable, it is entirely unnecessary for vast amounts of this muck to take up such prominent real estate in the file folder hierarchy of the hard drive.  They might as well have printed out all of the programs in word processing files filed with machine code.  If it must exist, stick all of the muckety muck three layers down in a single obscure corner of a single folder marked prominently with "don't touch" warnings on it.

The only reason I don't switch to Linux, aside from the compatability issues with some key programs that might be lurking out there, is that then I really might have to know what all that muckety muck is and I really don't want to go there.

Why is it so hard for everyone in the world of IT except Apple to understand that computer users want simplicity and not maximum complexity and modifiability?  We want something that works and does what we use it to do, not a Swiss Army knife with attachments we've never even learned the names of.  Maybe in some future utopia, this little concern will be addressed, but I'm not hopeful.

1 comment:

Gabriella Kadar said...

LOL! No shit.

I've got these Chinese guys who 'manage' the meltdowns (not mine) who say "okay" when I tell them that the only thing happening on the screen is a 'softly waving' Microsoft flag. I reply "not okay".

Corruption of programmes and Microsoft. Ack! Like you, I've got programmes running that can't run with Apple.