External storage enclosures, or adding a second or more hand drive to your desktop computer are a useful and increasingly popular way to expand digital storage; however it can be difficult to manage storage across multiple disks that may be both internal and external. Because each drive is seen and managed as a separate ‘volume’ or drive letter (C:, D:, E:, etc.), as users add drives to their computer or PVR, they are also adding complexity.
When adding a new drive to a system that is already bursting at the seams with data, the user must recreate a file structure on the new drive. However, doing so creates a situation that fragments data across the two disks, forcing users to remember “Which drive holds which files?” This often results in users creating and maintaining duplicate folders such as a new ‘My Music’ or ‘My Pictures’ to store new content after the original disk is full. This additional complexity quickly leads to questions like, “Were mom’s birthday pictures on drive C: or E:?”
The other option for users, of course, is to spend several hours reorganizing and migrating their data every time they get a new drive. However, even assuming that users are comfortable with finding and transferring their data, the consequences of forgetting to transfer some key bit of data can be severe. In addition, applications that have default save locations need to be retrained to save to new locations on the new drive. To make matters worse, some software may not allow multiple locations for content. They may expect all content to be in a single specified folder, preventing the use of a secondary drive letter. While users can get more storage by adding a drive, it’s difficult to manage data across multiple drives.
Another problem is that most consumer devices, such as PVRs have limited, if any, expansion capabilities. Even PVRs that do understand the concept of two or more drives usually provide only a single extra drive connection which allows you to attach only a single extra drive. After that drive is filled up, there are no more expansion options. This is a stop-gap, rather than a solution.
A comprehensive solution would allow users to add storage easily over time, would free them from the restrictions of the number of expansion.