What You Need In Your Next Computer: More Horsepower, Less Storage

by Randy Murray on November 13, 2012

I recently bought a new computer system, primarily for work. I was surprised at how difficult a decision process it was, but I’m very happy with the end result.

My previous work and home machine was an early 2008 iMac. It’s been a workhorse, but I found myself dealing with long wait times for it to wake and free itself of whatever it was up to so that I could work. It served me well to work on at my desk, but it was also our home media server, hosting our nearly 20,000 song music library and a growing TV and movie collection, and over 30,000 digital photos (and the photos are of increasing size and resolution). Because of this it’s also the machine that we sync our iPhones, iPods, and iPad to.

Add to that the fact that sitting at that desk and working at that computer has been making my back and neck pain increasingly worse. I needed more power and more flexibility with how and where I work.

Here’s the problem boiled down: I needed a powerful machine I could move around AND I needed a home system that stayed put.

I’ll spare you the long process of considering virtually every combination of Macs, iOS devices, and even desk configurations and tell you how I ended up: I’m keeping the iMac, which I’ll soon rebuild to be only an iTunes/iPhoto repository and sync station and I bought a brand new Macbook Pro 13″ with Retina display.

And it is, without a doubt, the best Mac I’ve ever used.

It is wicked fast. Applications launch in barely a breath. I can switch between tasks with no lags or pausing. There have been no crashes or even frozen applications. And the Retina screen is a thing of glory.

But I hesitated to buy it. Why? Because of the very limited internal storage options.

For my entire computing life I have always operated by one rule: you can’t have enough storage. My first Mac, a Mac SE, had a 10 megabyte hard drive. The old iMac I just demoted has a 250 GB internal hard drive and I have two 1 terabyte external drives connected to it.

It was very difficult for me to envision having less than a terabyte of internal storage for my new machine.

But as I debated and discussed this problem with friends I realized this: I don’t need to carry everything with me all of the time. But I struggled with that idea. Could I really buy a new machine that I’d use for years with less storage than I’d had in my previous machine.  I asked everyone, even Apple Store sales associate (though it was clear that I’d been using Macs for longer than he’d been alive).

So I asked myself: What do I really need?

I need access to my stuff. I don’t have to carry it with me. Here was the list that I made: I use Dropbox for all of my work and current personal creative projects. Since I’m a writer, that means lots and lots of really small text files. I would not migrate my old iMac over to this new machine. I would only install the applications that I really need. That includes Microsoft Office, Final Draft, and Scrivener.

I selected the Macbook Pro with 120 gigabytes of flash memory.

And when I was done I still have over 90 gigabytes of available storage. That’s a very comfortable amount of space.

I can temporarily fill it with things if I choose to travel. I can bring over movies and music, then dump it all when I’m home. And by using iCloud and iTunes Match virtually all of my music is available to me anywhere I can get online.

By not worrying about massive storage, I could select a more powerful and faster machine. I like having lots of home storage, but I’m finally comfortable in having less in my portable devices. When I trade in my 1st generation iPad which has 64 gigabytes of storage I’m going to happily purchase one with just 16.

It may seem ridiculous, but I somehow feel lighter.

What You Need In Your Next Computer: More Horsepower, Less Storage by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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