Data Hoarding?

When I was growing up, I lived with a compulsive shopper – my grandmother – who spent all of her money and credit on tons and tons of stuff. If she saw it on the home shopping network, she’d buy it. If she saw something in the store, she’d buy it. Eventually, our house became so cluttered, we had paths in between the stuff to get from one room to another, and one of the four bedrooms was entirely filled with stuff. She eventually couldn’t even sleep on her own bed due to it being covered with stuff, and had to sleep on the couch.

So, of course, being a compulsive person my own self, I emulated these tendencies and became something of a hoarder my own self. For years I hoarded games, movies, toys, books, gadgets and anything else I could afford, to the detriment of my sanity and bank account. Thankfully, a few years ago, I decluttered my apartment and took nearly twenty trash bags full of stuff to Goodwill, and have been relatively clutter free ever since.

However, in thinking on it, I realized my hoarding tendencies have now moved from the physical to the virtual, as I hoard data. For example, I keep nearly every email I get. My primary gmail account has all of its emails going back from 2004. In my phone, I have numbers, emails and addresses for companies I no longer deal with or girls I only went out on one date with and never saw again.

I began wondering, why am I keeping this stuff? Do I REALLY need it? However, is it really a problem since it’s really not taking up any physical space? I know when I decluttered my apartment, it also decluttered my head as well, and my home felt like a much cleaner place to think and be myself in. Would the same thing happen if I “decluttered” my data?

Therefore, I wanted to jump on here and see if anyone had the same issue with hoarding data, what you do to control it, if anything, and why you do it. Hopefully that’ll help me understand it a bit better and form a plan of what to do about it, if anything. Thanks! :)

As long as it’s not cats you’re hoarding, you’re good.

Haha, no, I stopped at 2. I don’t wanna be a crazy cat guy.

I’d be interested in hearing an experts take on this, as well. Of course physical hoarding has numerous issues like personal health and safety, but it’s still a mental disease, is it not? From a psychological perspective is there really a difference between hoarding newspapers and whatnot in your apartment and hoarding video files and game downloads on your five 2 TB hard drives?

edit - But of course, hoarding doesn’t simply mean you keep a large collection of something. Hoarding means you keep a large collection of everything. I’m not sure a rack of hard drives full of your games or e-mails or music files constitutes a “hoard”.

Treat your data like you would a box in the attic. If, at a certain point, you look at a CD, rar archive, backup or folder and you can’t recall what’s in it, throw it out.

So whether or not you keep something should be based on your ability to recall often-cryptic labels and filenames? That’s a terrible suggestion, and you should feel terrible for suggesting it.

Too late, then.

I’m with you on the data.

Sometimes I go through long periods of just compulsively organizing folders, too … But then I have these mess folders full of shit I mean to organize eventually.

I go through significant efforts sometimes to download media/materials (like cool YouTube videos) I particularly like, and 95% of that shit I never look at again …

Should’ve been an archivist?

I keep my data fairly well organized, but I don’t download stuff I don’t need to download, like YT videos. Documents and pics, mostly.

I have a lot of data saved but most of it is pretty useless. But, hard drives are cheap and it isn’t like it’s hurting anything by being there. If I need the space, I’ll delete it. Otherwise, meh…

That’s kinda how I feel about it, Warren.

Just did a search of my documents on my work computer-- oldest file I have is a WAV of the AOL “Goodbye!”, dated 1992. Yikes.

Yeah, I think I win this one, then.

I was much worse in the 90s. It started with AudioGalaxy and Napster, where I’d just get everything, and decide to sort through it later.

Since, however, I’ve come to accept the proven ubiquity of streaming, and general availability of pretty much anything …

I currently have 5 TB of internal storage and would very much like to have more. A 1 TB external adds storage for items I don’t need frequent access to (game installers, mostly, including my entire Gamersgate and GOG collections). For backups, I still have all my old hard drives that contain the original data I copied to my current drives when they were new, so if everything gets wiped I only end up set back to the last time I got new drives, which was in March. More important documents are backed up on a more frequent basis, usually to my external.

Haven’t quite gone crazy enough to have a massive array of externals or off-site backups, but that could be in the works for the next few years if I continue down the dark path I’m currently on.

I archive a fair bit of stuff: email, interesting pictures I run across, IM/talker/game chat logs, old zip files copied over from hard drive moves… I’m reluctant to just delete them because I do occasionally search through them looking for things I vaguely remember.

It’s never really felt like a problem since it would actually be more work to sort through them trying to separate out what’s important and what isn’t than it is to just dump them somewhere under a loose directory hierarchy and search across them as needed.

Fortunately, data hoarding does no damage, and even on rare occasions can be useful if you find something cool that you forgot about. I hope it’s all online by now, though, and not sitting around in a zillion bits of mismatched media, from floppies to thumb drives… Anyhow, if it wasn’t for a grievously corrupted tar archive I failed to verify on creation when leaving GTE/Verizon in 2002, I’d still have some stuff from back in the 90s a few clicks away.

Note by the way that google apps are designed for nothing ever to be deleted. The delete options in things like gmail and so on are just to make people feel better if they are used to deleting stuff, and don’t like feeling that things are “cluttered”. The idea is just to save everything, and then just search for what you want. So in gmail, for example, for stuff you would otherwise delete, the expectation is you’ll hit the “archive” button without bothering to apply a label, which makes the message “go away” without actually getting rid of it.

My data hoarding is generally solved by losing a hard drive every few years. BUT I do make sure I have double backups of my photos. I have an external drive running along with a smaller pocket drive that I back up to every month or so. Oh, and my music.

If I had a Mac at home, Time Machine would be running for sure…we use it at work and it is fantastic for backing up.

So? I have all of my emails since 2007 organized by what the subject is or who sent them to me (PBEM divided up by game, friends, family, school correspondence divided up by course). With gmail’s storage capacity why wouldn’t you? Who knows what you might need from way back when.

It’s not hoarding to keep things with value, like old email. It’s hoarding to keep stuff you’ll never use again, whether it’s 250 DVDs in the living room or every 700mb AVI you downloaded off kazaa since 2004.

Right. Keeping copies of your personal correspondence – well, no one would call that “hoarding” because it is unique, irreplaceable stuff. “Hoarding” applies to random junk that you not only don’t need but could easily replace if you actually did need it.

Not specifically at chequers but already this term has jumped the shark and gets way over-applied.

This, however, is aimed specifically at chequers: MEET YOUR NEMESIS, MORTAL. In only 2 days with Prime free delivery.

I am sure there are more radical things out there, this was just the first link that came up.