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Why Size Matters


More and more large multi-hundred-megabyte and even gigabyte sized software items are being installed on folks' desktops.

Hard drives are bigger, and folks say size doesn't matter any more. Java apps and huge C++ apps are fine, they say - as we have hard drives to support it all. We don't have to "worry" about size any more, some claim.

Here's the problem: in order to defragment and virus check a large hard drive filled with thousands of megabytes of software, the computer has to go through several days of testing. The time it takes to do several days of defragmenting, virus checks, etc. is not practical. The virus check and degragmentation cannot even finish overnight while one is sleeping, as applications become so large in size. This is worry and stress to the computer user, despite the claim made by some: "we don't have to worry any longer, size doesn't matter."

Why is size a problem? Can't the increased speed of the latest CPU (multi gigahertz) match up to the new hard drive sizes? So that virus checks and defragmentation can take less time? Simply upgrade the processor and the hard drive together, instead of just upgrading the hard drive alone? The problem with upgrading the CPU and the hard drive together is that you still have a size/cpu mismatch. Software size has always moved faster than CPU can keep up with.

Computer consumers will get more and more viruses and more and more bugs on their hard drive as hard drives get larger - because CPU's cannot keep up and battle the bugs, clean the bugs. With the size of the hard drive and the amount of programs installed on the computer, the CPU cannot keep up with cleaning and fixing the computer when things go wrong. The relationship between the increase of CPU speed and the increase in software application size is not linear.

The Java/Python/Large C++ Application/Lazarus crowds will tell you that size doesn't matter because today's hard drives are so big and cheap.

But time is not cheap. Defragmenting a huge hard drive and checking for viruses and other bugs increases the amount of maintenance required. And more and more Macintosh and Linux PC's are getting hit with Viruses/bugs/server worms. Are you one of those folks who believed the lie that a virus wasn't possible on a Mac or a Linux box?

As any system gets filled with more and more bloatware, whether it is a Linux, Mac, BSD, or Windows operating system - the CPU will not be able keep up when it comes time to clean and fix those broken software apps that got hit with a bug.

Another issue with regards to CPU's is power consumption.

An old 200Mhz computer running Microsoft Word 95 or OpenOffice, or StarOffice only takes up about 15W-20W of power. While a newer 3Ghz computer takes up anywhere from 60-80W of power.

Aren't new devices supposed to be getting more efficient? Sure, Microsoft Word and OpenOffice and StarOffice have more features than they did back in the days of Word 95 or OpenOffice 0.1. But The reality is that not much has changed since Microsoft Word 95 to or Excel95 to merit 80W of electricity usage. The price of Oil is going up which means the price of CPU wattage is also going up.

One cannot advocate an old 200Mhz computer and abandoned software like Word 95 but one has to wonder why it takes 80W to run Word XP or StarOffice, and one has to wonder why it is now harder to debug and fix a computer (since the CPU cannot keep up with the size of the software and hard drive) when life is supposed to be getting easier and more efficient with technology.

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