Losing bytes!!! Why am I less attached to my magnetic junk?

I’ve been meaning to blog about this for a while but simply haven’t gotten around to it.  J  It’s pretty fitting actually since I’m going to be writing about being a pack rat, a.k.a. hoarding.  Most of us have heard someone utter, or even said it ourselves,“I’ll get around to it, ” or “I’m planning on getting to it,” whatever “it” may be (cleaning, sorting, organizing, etc.).  What about this one…have you ever not been able to answer, “Why do you have this/that?”


By no means am I at the extreme end of hoarding but I certainly have a few shoe boxes of junk that’s been collected over time.  Most of it is completely useless but I don’t have the heart to dispose of the items.  My junk shoe box on the bookshelf behind me includes things like a peltier ($0.00) I used for a college overclocking project, some coins from Europe (total value $0.35), paper nametag from some long forgotten event (priceless), and the list goes on.  I find myself doing the same thing for my digital “junk”.


I have a folder on my computer that contains some old word documents from some incomplete flyer I was created years ago but never finished.  There are some other completely useless things like some jpegs I was contemplating as backgrounds for some very old web pages that I don’t even have any more.  As with my physical junk, the list goes on for these digital possessions.  After a specific amount of time one generates a sentimental attachment to the possessions regardless of their actual value or usefulness.


I personally don’t like archiving my data off to CDs, zip/jazz drives, dvds, etc.  I like to have everything readily available on the workstation so I can find it when I need it (whether I ever look at it again is another story all together).  So what I do is just buy a big enough hard drive / raid array.


If you’re still reading at this point thanks for hanging in there!  I’ll start getting to my point shortly.


There have been a few times over the years where I’ve lost a drive and with it all the data on the disk (Ce la vie!) and I start collecting bytes all over again.  Now I completely understand that it is extremely easy to backup my data or have a RAID 1 or 5 such that I wouldn’t loose my data.  But I don’t do it, I don’t take the precautions to protect my data.  That’s where the problem lies!!!!!  I’ll elaborate….


In the instances where I lost my data I didn’t have much time to reflect on the loss.  Sure I could recall some of the data that I had lost but I was never really traumatized by the losses. I knew there was nothing I could do to get the data back.  Now if my house burned down and I lost everything in it I know I would probably be devastated.  I’ve seen enough of these situations to know that I’d never want to go through that.


My question is WHY? 


I didn’t take much psychology in school nor am I smart enough to deduce why this is the case.  Heck, I could be the only person that feels this way but I know of at least one other person that easily moved on from a loss of a HDD and all of its contents.  Does any one know the answer or care to speculate?  Have you encountered similar situations?  How would you react to loosing something tangible versus something digital?


Maybe it has to do with being able to see/interact with the aftermath of the destruction of physical data.  I know my HDD looked the same before and after dying.  Maybe I’d feel worse if I could see my files on the file system but couldn’t view their contents?  Perhaps it’s because I have a more “real” interaction with my physical possessions.  I just don’t know.


What do you all think?

Comments (4)

  1. zzz says:

    I’d say that if you really wanted the data back, you’d knew it was possible. For certain $$$ of course.

  2. Norman Diamond says:

    Windows 95 taught me to keep 6 backups of every important document and 3 backups of unimportant documents. Of course the losses were not due to hardware, they were due to 100% reproducible software. Of course the first loss was unexpected, devastating, and took months (and 11,000 yen in train fares going to the offices of vendors who were not at fault) to track down.

    After determining the cause, and practicing with reliable partitioning tools, I’ve gotten lazy and only keep 3 backups of important documents.

    Subsequent losses have occured when having external drives already connected at the time of booting Windows 2000 or 2003, but I could recover from other backups and I’ve learned how to avoid some of those problems too.

    As for not being attached to some documents, some are less important than others.

    As for hardware failures, on hard disks I have been hit twice by bad blocks. One time one was in a file called SYSTEM.DAT, but fortunately was a backup copy of that file on an external drive so I could just copy it again. One time it was on an internal drive and it took ages to find which file, but again recovery was quick after that point. These have proven a lot less devastating than software-induced time bombs.

    As for hardware failures again, on CD-R[W] and DVD+R[W] for unknown reasons I’ve been hit by a lot of bad blocks. They record fine but after a few months they’re fully or partially unreadable. External hard drives have been a lot more reliable for me, as long as I know how to protect them from unreliable software.

  3. Norman Diamond says:

    Sorry for a second one in a row, but my mistaken recollection on hardware failures deserves correction. I had one other external hard disk whose hardware failure could potentially have been as devastating (one time) as what Windows 95 did (always). Fortunately by that time I had already learned to keep multiple backups and therefore lost nothing, and the vendor even paid for postage both ways to replace it. The lesson is still: make backups and check whether your backups are readable.

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