I spent the last few weeks back in CA, where I grew up. Visiting is truly like going home because my entire family is there. My parents still live in the same house they moved into while I was in 2nd grade, which is exactly 1 mile from the hospital where I made my debut. Even though the Bay Area is fairly crowded and turnover is high as “start-ups” come and go in Silicon Valley, for me it’s always the same. My parents, my dogs, all three brothers, their wives, their children, sunshine and fresh air. (Here in Ohio, I’m told the air is fresh but it’s 4 degrees so I rarely go outside to verify.)
On this trip home, I finally took the time to clean out the closet of my room and to go through my bathroom drawers. My patient mom has been aiding and abetting my packrat habits for 6 years now and like all good things, that had to come to an end.
I did find lots of why-in-the-world-did-I-save-THAT kind of stuff, but after lots of sifting I ended up with a solid box and a half full of memories. Journals dating back to when I was 8 years old – I remember feeling badly that I didn’t write more often, but now I treasure even the few entries I made each year. I’d check in to explain a funny thing our guinea pig, Wig, did that day, or to talk about boys at school, or why I currently loved (or hated) my brothers. I have ticket stubs from epic concerts, snapshots from Prom and science camp (yes, I’m a life-long nerd and I actually volunteered as a counselor), and treasured letters from my parents.
I immediately realized that I wanted to share much of what I found with Scott, and later, some things with my children. I was infused with a renewed desire to journal major events and to print the journals out so they didn’t just live on my computer. Going through my closet bit by bit had confirmed to me that there’s just something so special about holding your personal history in your hands.
I was typing away on my laptop late one night and it froze. It had never happened in the 2 1/2 years I’d owned my MacBook Pro, but I was used to PCs so I calmly rebooted. Instead of being greeted with a friendly mac icon, I got a blinking folder icon with a question mark on it.
Long story short: my hard drive was fried. Just like that. All my data was lost. Photos, journals, thousands of songs… gone. My thoughts and impressions when I first met Scott, and later from when I was deciding whether he was the man I was going to marry: gone. My private thoughts about my miscarriage and Mackenzie’s birth: gone. Everything was irrecoverably (for less than $2,000, anyway) gone. AppleCare covered the cost of the new hard drive, but it’s squeaky clean. It doesn’t know me or my memories.
Additional information for my geeky friends reading this: My hard drive was so far gone it didn’t even know it was a hard drive anymore. So booting in target disk mode was useless and dismantling the hard drive completely was the only slim chance at any data recovery.
I’m crushed. I always knew backups were important, but at one point in time we had all this stuff on both Scott’s laptop and my laptop and to be honest, I just didn’t think much of it. Scott’s laptop had to be wiped by Apple a few months ago and we synced up at that point… but hadn’t yet done it since he received a fresh laptop from Apple (did I mention I love AppleCare?) So when my laptop bit the dust, we lost absolutely everything.
I could have put my journals on a $10 flash drive but I didn’t. This would have been a no-brainer, but I didn’t realize I was about to lose them.
Other things I didn’t know I needed until I lost them: my account information for online bank accounts, credit card login information, tax records, etc. Anything I hadn’t happened to print out is gone.
My photos are safe and sound on my SmugMug site, thank goodness. Otherwise I would have just a few smallish prints of our wedding and Mackenzie’s birth. *shudder*. For a flat yearly fee, SmugMug allows you to dump as many photos into your account as you’d like, and they keep the high-resolution originals for you. Again, this would have been a no-brainer to put every photo important to me on SmugMug but a few likely slipped through the cracks because I didn’t honestly consider that they could all be lost so suddenly. Now I know why we get fanmail from customers whose homes burn down or whose hard drives crash. Photos (like journals) are irreplaceable.
So this is a reminder to YOU and to ME: don’t delay. Back up the important stuff. I laid down $100 on an external hard drive on my way back from the Apple store last night, and I will religiously backup everything important on a regular basis now that I know how awful it is to lose everything. I would gladly pay five times that to have all my data back, so the peace of mind it gives will be worth every penny.