Friday, 3 August 2012

Always back up your hard drive

This is the first sentence I have written on my new (well new to me) laptop, with a newly installed version of Word. It feels kind of alien, like putting on someone else’s jeans. The contour of someone else’s bum doesn’t quite fit mine but I have no choice because otherwise I’d be naked from the waist down.

I had total hard drive failure this week on my old netbook. I am desperately trying not to blame Son Two who dropped it immediately before it broke, as I’ve had a lot of “that was YOUR fault” from Son One lately and I don’t like it. Not blaming is easy when Son Two has broken Son One’s homemade “chocolate machine” not so easy when it’s a computer with your whole life on it. Luckily, thanks to great friends, I have been able to replace the computer and the software pretty easily. But the rest of it, a years worth of photographs, two years worth of writing and my entire life, well, it’s all gone and can’t be replaced. Ha, how ironic at a time when I was just getting over the feeling of losing everything, I go and actually lose everything. But even if I was a blaming sort, I would only have myself to scold, for not backing up my hard drive.

It never used to be like this. When I was growing up I had an electric typewriter the size of a block of flats that I would merrily clank away on. And an exercise book, covered in old wrapping paper, in which to record all my ramblings when I didn’t have a reinforced desk handy to hold the typewriter. Cameras were something you got out of the cupboard at special occasions, and you either had 24 or 36 pictures (depending on how flush you were feeling at the time of buying the film) available on your camera. The last photograph on the film (sometimes the last five) was always of your dad’s car or your mum’s sideboard, because you couldn’t wait to take the film down to Boots and get it developed. Finally the big day would arrive and you would hand over your little slip of paper and be rewarded with a bulging envelope filled with promise.

Some people would rip open the envelope before they’d even paid for them, they didn’t mind someone looking over their shoulder to get a glimpse of their holiday snaps while queuing to buy paracetemol and corn plasters. But I was more of a take it home, sit down and savour it kind of girl. The excitement involved in getting a film back from Boots was just like getting a birthday present with a big pink bow on it, the experience was one to be relished.

More often than not I was disappointed. The one photo of us six girls, heads locked together in friendship, all of us smiling happily on our way out for the best night of our lives, was always a wash out. Foundation tide marks exaggerated by the flash, eyes caught halfway between blinking and open, and my brother’s fingers popping up behind us unnoticed, making a V sign over someone’s head. At the time it was devastating, but it was a moment to remember and would go in the album despite its flaws.

These days we take hundreds, thousands of pictures even and we save them all on our computers. How many of us even have them printed anymore? I have (well, had) thousands and thousands of photographs saved on that computer, never printed because going through all of the rubbish (does whitening toothpaste really work?  - before and after pics, a photo of the funny lump on my back - taken for a closer look, and a million copies of the same pose, just trying to get one where everyone has their eyes open and is looking at the camera and smiling) was just too hard and too time consuming. Now there is no limit on the number of pictures we can take, we don’t have to ration them. And because of that the good stuff gets lost in the crap.

I am not sad about losing the close up pictures of my before and after White Glo experience, and I can do without the funny lump on my back which turned out to be my bra rubbing. But Son One opening his fifth birthday presents? And Son Two’s first hair cut? I would do anything to get them back. Take it from me, always, always back up your hard drive.

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