Digitized Files: How Much Hard Drive Do They Take?
PDFs, Docs, and image files all take space, but how much?
By Joshua Zerkel
So you’ve gone paperless and are now storing all your documents on your hard drive. Great! By doing so, you’ve likely freed up tons of space in your office by eliminating the need for paper storage. Just because the papers don’t take up physical space, however, doesn’t mean they aren’t taking space on your hard drive. Hard drives have memory capacities, so it’s good to know what kinds of files are filling your storage.
Word Documents (.doc, .docx, .txt): Text documents—whether Microsoft Word, TextEdit on Macs, or other word processing programs—typically contain only text, which is one of the tiniest forms of files that you can have. You can have a book-length Word document that nevertheless amounts to a very, very small file size, unless it also contains embedded images or any sort of imported media inside of it. Typically, however, Word documents are very tiny, usually a in the range of a few kilobytes (kb) to less than ten megabytes (MBs).
Portable Document Format (.pdf): Compared to docs, PDFs can have all sorts of things inside of them. In addition to just text, PDFs often include images or links to other things. This increases their overall file size. If a PDF is a scanned document, it can be an extremely large file size—many MBs. Typically your scanner will come with software that lets you create PDFs, and that software has multiple settings. You can opt to scan things at high resolution, low resolution, black and white, color, single-sided, or double-sided, depending on your scanner. If you’re scanning things at high resolution, in color and double-sided, the resulting PDFs you create can be surprisingly large. So you might want to play with the settings in your scanner, making sure that you’re scanning at the resolution that you need, not necessarily the best possible quality. If you scan something in black and white at low resolution, that may be enough to capture what you need and the file size of your PDF will be much, much smaller.
Image files (.jpg, .gif, .tif): Image files can be of all sorts of different file sizes, depending on the resolution of the image or the overall dimensions. If an image is print-quality resolution—300 dpi (dots per inch) or higher—it will be a larger file size, upwards of 25 or 50 MBs. Likewise if the image is many inches wide, as opposed to a tiny thumbnail, it will be a larger file size. If you use images only for web-based or Power Point presentations, you can save them at a lower resolution (72 dpi) and thus at a lower file size.
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Joshua Zerkel, CPO® is a the founder of Custom Living Solutions, a San Francisco-based productivity and organizing consulting firm, specializing in helping busy people save time, space and money by getting organized at home and at work. For more FREE organizing ideas, visit www.customlivingsolutions.com or call 415-830-6345.