Local App Copies

When iTunes was first released it was a music player and nothing more. It allowed users to play music, create playlist (or is curate the preferred term these days?) and rip cd’s.Fast forward a decade and iTunes is a media hub that syncs music, movies, shows, audiobooks, podcasts and apps to first the iPod, and then the iPhone and iPad.

My Mac mini has always been my central media server. I used to sync and backup my devices via cable on a daily basis and once Apple allowed us to sync via wifi that syncing became a lot easier.So, over the years my library has grown into a monster that contains terabytes of media files. But when Apple cut the cord in iOS 5, that library became less central. It still stores all my media files, but my current iOS devices have never been connected to my server. They’re synced via iCloud and all content and apps is directly downloaded via the App Store or other services.

So when my server alerted me today that one of its disks had reached 90% capacity, my first reaction was: better buy a bigger hard drive. And my second reaction: what’s taking up so much space?After running Daisy Disk I discovered that the Mobile Applications folder, part of the iTunes library, was a whopping 215 GB big.

Since my current iOS devices have never been synced to my media server, these apps haven’t been used either. So a big chunk of my Media Drive was filled with files I never use. Which let me to the next question: Do I really need a local copy of all these apps? I can always redownload them from the App Store.I don’t trust the cloud. I see it as a way to sync data, but not as a place to store data. At least not as the place where I store the only copy of a certain piece of data. Files in the cloud are out of my control, so I’m basically trusting strangers with my data. And I trust these strangers to backup their servers properly. That’s why, although I use iCloud and Dropbox all the time, I keep a local copy of those files on my server, which are backed up via multiple services.

While I’ve not used iTunes to sync with any device for a while now, I still keep a local copy of all apps I buy in iTunes, which resulted in an ever expanding library of apps taking up a sizable chunk of my hard drive.If I consider these apps ‘data’, it’s useful to keep them around as a local copy.But is it useful to keep a separate copy of your software laying around in a world where all software is bought digitally? I’ve long since thrown out all my CDs and DVDs, and recycled dozens of cardboard software boxes. Maybe I should do the same with those apps that have been gathering digital dust?

Once you begin the process of slowly shedding unnecessary possessions, it becomes intoxicating. Your living space slowly becomes simpler and less cluttered, which has the unexpected effect of de-cluttering your head. It becomes a lifestyle. – Tom Bihn

Earlier this week I linked to this quote. If the same rules apply to both the analog and the digital, these files definitely fall under the category unnecessary. So I deleted them all and freed up a lot of space, which will result in less data to backup, making things a little bit easier.Problem solved.

But there is one more question to add: now that I’ve deleted data I always considered as necessary, what else can or should I delete?

As for that hard drive: freeing up that space only delayed the inevitable. So I’m going to buy a bigger drive one of these days. Pity Black Friday was last week.