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If it moves, kill it -- Keeping storage growth under control

By Rick Cook

The amount of junk that builds up in storage is astonishing. Among the biggest culprits are computer movie files. They are recognizable by their extensions (.AVI, .MOV) and by their enormous file sizes. It's not uncommon for a movie to take up 100 megabytes or more of disk space.

Not all .AVI, .MOV and similar files are non-productive, but in the typical organization, a high percentage of them are. Most organizations use motion more for impact than imparting information.

Often the resulting movies are presentations and such that are viewed once or twice and have been left to molder in storage ever since. That and their multi-megabyte size make them candidates for especially close scrutiny by storage administrators looking to free up storage space.

There's also the fact that a distressingly high number of these moving files violate other company policies -- like the one against pornography on corporate computers. If you check these files visually, be prepared for an occasional eyeful.

The first step to bring these under control is to establish a comprehensive storage policy, especially for things to be stored over the network. Then, start enforcing the policy.

As part of that policy, you should consider restricting, or even prohibiting, storing .AVI and .MOV files on corporate servers. At the very least, someone should occasionally review those stored files with an eye to encouraging the user to delete them.

Monitoring online movies is no substitute for capacity planning or having a comprehensive storage strategy, but it can help curb the demand for storage space.

Additional resources:

  • One of the main tools for controlling wasted storage is Storage Resource Management (SRM) software. Thus, it's not surprising that an SRM company, Astrum Software, has a paper listing 12 steps to eliminate storage waste. Although it is aimed primarily at desktop users, it has some good advice for managers of storage servers as well. It can be found at
  • For a list of the latest tips on SearchStorage, go to:

Rick Cook has been writing about mass storage since the days when the term meant an 80K floppy disk. The computers he learned on used ferrite cores and magnetic drums. For the last twenty years he has been a freelance writer specializing in storage and other computer issues.

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