The Quota Corollary to Parkinson’s Law

Parkinson’s Law, the famous quote from his 1955 essay, claims, “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” It seems there is an analogous principle for disk space:

Date: Mon, 10 Sep 2007 23:05:25 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: AFS quota increase


Could I get my quota increased a little bit? I have a LOT of medium-size files for various projects… I tried to clear up my homedir about a month ago but it didn’t help more than about 100 MB. And today my usage jumped from 98% to 99% when I uploaded my first pset (for 6.170)…


Date: Thu, 4 Sep 2008 01:32:00 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Quota bump


Classes already having started, it’s going to be hard to spend time cleaning out my AFS volume and e-mail this week, although I’ll do so soon (I should probably move the things I don’t need regular access to to other storage, anyway). Any chance I could please have a little bit of a quota bump on each so I can do the first assignment for my classes without worrying?


Date: Tue, 1 Sep 2009 15:05:00 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: quota bump for my locker

Hi Accounts,

Can I get more Athena quota on the grounds that it would be helpful for continuing to work on Athena, or something? :)

Also, term is starting soon… I did look around for things that seem potentially likely to be removable, but nothing stands out. I can look harder or try moving things to other storage if you’d prefer I start with that.

Thanks a bunch,

Here are the current official disk policies:

maximum volume sizes
        reference snapshots (eg unchanging CD/DVD images) -- 25G
        swmaint/rel-eng -- 12G (but negotiable)
        course/cwis/leased -- 12G

quotas (user homedirs and activity lockers)
        default: 2G
        if they ask for more: 4G
        and justify it: 6G
        and are Thesing and have a signed letter from the Pope: 8G
                (sufficient academic need may substitute for the Papal letter)

My freshman year, the second half was 1G/1.5G/2G/3G (unchanged since 2004), so at least there’s more breathing room. But still, note carefully,

$ fs listquota
Volume Name                    Quota       Used %Used   Partition
user.geofft                  8000000    7586330   95%<<       78%    <<WARNING

I guess it makes sense: in the normal case, there isn’t a lot of incentive for me to care about disk space, and it’s not a worthwhile use of my time until pressure appears. Even so, I find it amusing that no matter how many quota bumps I’ve already had or how many iterations of Moore’s Law have doubled my quota without even asking, it has become a tradition that every fall (except my freshman year), before classes start, I’ve used 95% of my quota. Files expand so as to fill the disk available for their storage.

Looking at the policy, I guess this time I don’t have a choice but to clean it up.

30 August 2010