Thursday, July 14, 2011

I am Saved, I Think.

Despite the constant entreaties of our neighborhood church lady who makes a big thing of inviting me to her extreme evangelical Christmas church whenever we cross paths out walking in the morning, that’s not the kind of “saved” I’m referring to.

I’m referring to something decidedly more earthly.

In all the years I've had computers, I've been fortunate never to experience a disk drive failure. I used to hear friends complain about them all the time, especially back in the early 80s when PCs were first coming out. It used to be that I would lose files as a result of problems with the various Windows operating systems. But I never lost a full drive's worth of data.

As PCs evolved, I've always had back-up storage devices. I had floppy disks, tapes, diskettes, CDs and finally a series of external hard drives. Their capacity grew from kilobytes to megabytes to gigabytes and, finally, terabytes.

For the last several years I have used as my primary back up drive a 1 terabyte external hard drive. Imagine that. My first PC had a storage capacity of about 28 kilobytes and now I was working in multiples of terabytes, a quantity unimaginable back then. When I first got that drive, I felt like I'd acquired enough storage space to make a motion picture of launch a spaceship.

The problem, of course, is that as you come to depend on fewer and fewer storage devices—at one time I’d had my business files carefully back up on some 200 diskettes--you subject to the "all the eggs in one basket" vulnerability.

It's especially problematic when that single back-up drive starts making funny sounds, which my external hard drive started doing a few months ago. The good news is that I’ve been using Carbonite for a year or two to back-up the files on my computer. But Carbonite doesn’t back up external drives. For that, I found Crashplan, an online service that constantly backs up my external drive.

It took almost a month to fully back up almost 100 gigabytes from the external drive to the Crashplan site. But once that was done, I breathed a sigh of relief. I knew that if the external drive did actually die I would not lose anything.

I was pleased to learn that the external terabyte drive that died is still under warranty. Once I pack it up and send it back to the manufacturer they’ll send me a new one. Unfortunately, they will not recover the data on the broken drive. I’m hoping to find a local firm that will do that. Until this all sorts out I'll be without immediate access to my photo archive.

I’ve gone 28 years without a disk drive, which I’m told is a pretty good record for beating the odds. For now I’m not getting upset about this mechanical failure because I am confident that Crashplan will make my archive whole again. Just to be safe, though, I’m trying out a little Zen philosophy on this, reasoning that should I lose all those pictures and memories, it’s just a good way to clean my mind and make the space open for something new and better. But because I’m not very experienced with that kind of philosophy, I’m also keeping my fingers crossed.


  1. Good luck! Hope you retrieve it all!

  2. I always knew you were saved...:) Love your Zen attitude about this. Good luck!

  3. Good luck, Chris. I've only been involved with computers since '92 and like you I've never had a hard drive failure. I have had some spectacular crashes and even managed to melt an AMD processor once. It wasn't until I took up photography as a hobby and received two 500 Gig portable drives for Christmas that I finally got into the habit of doing regular back ups....only because the software that came with the portables reminds me to do it every Saturday morning.