I have been one of the latest victims of a silent plague: the hard drive crash. It all happened in a second – the USB lead was tangled, and the external disk fell while hard at work. Hundreds of gigabytes suddenly evaporated into thin air – or more accurately, shut themselves inside a bolted box.
After a fairly brief moment of vertigo, where my digital life paraded in front of my eyes, I regathered myself and began working out what to do: Option one – contact the pros. I did right away, and they said they could not do a thing. Option two – rescue information from a prior partial backup I had erased. I did and the software rescued 23,000 files – unnamed and randomly organised!
So this is where I am: I recovered a significant part of what I had lost, but what are the odds of finding the time and determination to clean up and identify 23,000 files? Close to none, I´d say, given my current state of work overflow. I bravely decided to soldier on without a digital past.
A hard drive crash has an element of mourning: there is a life that is suddenly left without a memory, there are documents and matters and commitments that are simply extinguished, and one is left in a strange vacuum of sorts, faced with the need to reconstruct a narrative from scratch. Yet once the shock fades, we realise life goes on, and we actually have the opportunity to be more selective in regards to our references and priorities. I certainly would not call this a blessing in disguise, but optimism makes me see the good that comes out of the accidental.
Maybe there should be a social network dedicated to this digital tragedy, one where volunteers would help rebuild one another´s archives. Maybe there already is such a thing, I shall find out.
To all of you out there… I only have one piece of advice, one I had been given but ignored under the assumption that these are the kinds of things that happen to others:
Back up your stuff!!! Now!!!