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Incrementally Speaking

I’m hoping this doesn’t come across as one of those “look how old I think I am” posts, but something struck me this morning when I was looking at my home lab backup logs. I noticed that my incremental backup from yesterday totaled 262MB of data. My initial, nearly subconscious thought was, “yeah, that’s practically nothing, I’m sure SOMETHING was modified.” What I had done was mentally dismissed 262MB worth of data as nothing. What is remarkable to me about this, is that I was at work all day yesterday, and so was my wife. I didn’t even touch my computer yesterday, and the work my wife did, she saved to her desktop (grumble grumble) which wouldn’t have come anywhere near 262MB, or any files she would have touched wouldn’t have totaled 262MB.

I’m confident that my home lab file server isn’t compromised or anything, but what’s making me stare off into space thinking about this, (while my coffee gets cold…hang on [slurp]..ahhh)is that 262MB is a LOT of data. I mean, it really is. Especially when you think about it in historic terms. My first home computer (not including the TI_99/4a) had a 360K 5-¼inch floppy disk drive. No hard drive at all. The second computer had 2 of those 3-1/2 inch drives that eventually allowed us to use 1.44MB double density disks – still no hard drive. Then we got our computer with a hard drive in it - 40MB. This was SOOOO much space that we didn’t know what to do with it so we FDISK’ed the crap out of that thing and partitioned it in to 2 more manageable partitions. This was all the space we could ever need. A few years later, I got a computer that had an 800MB hard drive, which you may as well have just called “infinite space” because I couldn’t DREAM if filling that up. I recall a friend saying, “WOW! That’s almost a gigabyte!” and that was the first time I’d EVER heard the word gigabyte and I was pretty sure he was making the word up.
Anyway, my point is this. My subconscious dismissal of 262MB as insignificant or as some sort of rounding error or change (in the monetary sense not in the incremental backup sense- gosh this computer stuff is confusing) is profound in a way. I’m writing off a volume of data that would have been unthinkable, in terms of home computing a few short decades ago as, “stuff computers do when they are idle”. This 262MB of data would have taken up over ¼ of my “infinite storage” hard drive from 1995 and would have consumed 6 ½ hard drives the size of my first one. It’s crazy.

This isn’t a post about how old, or not, I am. It’s more about how technology changes expectation. No joke, I’ve have people try to email files that were 200MB+. I know!! I had to stop a print job yesterday that was over 1GB after being spooled. We’ve gone from 1MB files being an all-night download from a BBS over a 2400 baud modem, to 262MB being dismissed as “Probably a Microsoft update or something” in a very short amount of time. That changes expectations, especially with new players who barely pay attention to file sizes and/or capacity of storage and end users who don’t know what a megabyte is and don’t want to know because it’s too “techie” for them. This is where we are today.

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