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August 2012

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My Growing Storage Medium Issue

It occurred to me today that a new and frustrating tech problem is steadily growing in my gaming and computing world:  The encroaching limits of digital disk space.  As more and more games are going digital, they are taking up scores AND scores of HDD space.  On my Mac alone I have four operating systems to play all my games ranging from Mountain Lion (OS X), Windows 8 Release Preview, Windows XP and now Mac OS 9. My main partitions are looking pretty desperate right now, with my Mac OS partition maintaining 130GB and my Windows 8 partition with a meager 31GB left (A single modern MMO usually takes upwards of 20-25GB per install).  With digital services like Steam growing in popularity, that disk space will be gone in a matter of months.
My iPhone and iPad are both maxed out.  I am officially having to erase games in order to make room for new ones...  and that's interesting considering that the whole point in digital downloads is to save consumers the hassle of disk-swapping, dealing with packaging or multiple installations... and to simplify and cost-reduce the process.  The only saving grace is the hope that when the iPhone 5 launches this fall, it will launch with more memory... for less.  I live for the day that I can install ALL of my games to my iOS devices, and have lots of space to spare.
Today, my precious PS3 has only 98GB of its original 250GB free... rapidly decreasing due to growing number of game creator's insistence you install the entirety of the disk-based games to the HDD to overcome the PS3's RAM shortage issue.  No surprise, either, that games continue to become more digital-centric.  The Resident Evil Revival Selection, Chronicles Series, and games like R&C: Quest for Booty and Wipeout HD are examples.
The Vita already has a shortage issue... given that the cost of the proprietary memory sticks are prohibitively high, I have no way to manage the large number of PSP emulated titles I hope to purchase.  It doesn't help either, that layout information is not preserved when the storage medium is removed, and by reinserting the memory chip, players get screens of jumbled icons with no rhyme-nor-reason, evidently amnestic to the way users may have meticulously organized them before they removed the card.
Interestingly, my Xbox360 doesn't seem to have a storage issue quite as dire as the others... currently maintaining nearly 200GB of the 250GB HDD that came with it.  Interestingly, I have probably 3x as many XBLA titles as I do PSN originals.  What did Microsoft do right with regard to the XBOX360's file system?  Still...  my purchasing of Xbox Live arcade titles has slowed down lately.
This feels all-too-familiar to the "Wii Storage Problem" that lasted nearly three years from the console's launch in 2006 until the SD Card channel was launched with a firmware update in 2009.  Players who enjoyed Nintendo's Virtual Console and WiiWare services found pretty quickly that they were out of precious space on their Wii's crummy included 512MB.  Nintendo's initial response to the dilemma was that heavy digital-download-buyers simply "erase" the games they no longer wanted to play to make room for new ones, seemingly ignorant of the cumbersome and non-consumer-friendly set-up of the Wii Shop Channel and the system's storage management app.  Thankfully, Virtual Console titles and WiiWare are both so light on storage side that a single 8GB SD Card appears that it will simply NEVER be filled up at the current rate.  I thought that was the end of my storage-medium woes....
When I bought my last Windows PC, I actually stubbornly believed that 1TB HDD was too much space for what I'd ever need.  Not being a audiophile, videographer, or photographer, the largest single source of space-consuming data was my MP3 collection.  But that seems to have changed, and right now a 1.5TB HDD is looking mighty-delicious.
All of this being said: I have two options.  I can start deleting my digital downloads, as Nintendo originally suggested, (also deleting the likelihood that they'll ever be played again), or I can pay an Apple-certified repair center HUNDREDS of dollars to upgrade the HDD in my Mac. (Like hell am I trying it.  Have you seen the upgrade process for the aluminum iMac?  Suction cups?? REALLY?!) I could also upgrade the HDD in my PS3 for the second time since I purchased the 60GB launch model in 2007 to an even larger HDD.  Or...  I can hope that one day this gaming-in-the-cloud phenomenon that folks have been daydreamed about taking off mainstream will replace the need to keep my digital downloads stored locally.  
THAT might be solution I'm seeking.