Next to watching your PC's processor quickly become obsolete, the most puzzling experience in computing is trying to figure out where your PC's storage space went. When you first got the computer, you didn't think you'd ever fill its jumbo drive--until you started updating your software and your operating system.
Invariably, newer versions of the same old programs chew through hard-disk space like locusts after a seven-year sleep--with the Windows operating system in the lead. Now we have the Internet, which makes it all too easy for us to binge on data.
Figure that you and your employees will be downloading a lot more files in the future--not just e-mail, reports and other textual information, but also charts, spreadsheets, slide shows and highly graphical and space-hungry Web pages. You may be out in front of the e-commerce trend with your own Web page and server. Or you may host your own workgroup intranet or extranets that support your Very Important Vendors and Customers. (If you aren't now, you probably should.)
Plus, Internet browsers make liberal use of desktop hard drives to store cookies, Microsoft's ActiveX software modules, Java applets and cached Web pages in order to expedite Web navigation. And they do it in such sloppy fashion that a couple of online sessions can easily take a 25MB-to-30MB bite out of your drive.
You can nurse a single drive by regularly deleting unnecessary files, e-mail, attractive-but-dated business presentations, and backup versions of things. But those are hard, time-consuming choices. In the long run, it's easier and cheaper to simply add larger hard drives to your office PCs and to store as many files and programs on them as Windows' short-sighted storage conventions will allow.
Mike Hogan is Entrepreneur's technology editor, and he can be contacted at email@example.com