Memories in a Shoebox
A few weeks ago now, I had a hard drive die and have been dealing with the aftermath of what that has turned out to mean.
First, by way of a spoiler, no, the drive in question didn't have digital images on it. I make sure they're backed up. I'm no dummy. Pardon me to those of you who don't backup your images. But it really is important to back them up if you don't want to risk losing them. But apparently, I am dumb enough that I don't back everything up. That's not easy in today's world where a great many of us own more than one computer or other modern wonder with some equivalent of a "drive." Most of us at least have a mobile phone with a lot of important stuff on it.
In my case, what I lost were mostly documents and some source code for some programming projects. Most everything I was able to get back via one means or another, but it's worth noting that I really have no good way of knowing exactly what all was on that drive I still needed. Only that I haven't thought of anything further that is missing beyond what I have already tacked restoring. Another interesting aspect of the world today is that many of us are getting to have so many years of old digital life that we many not even know what all is in there.
Not that many years ago, in the before times when home computers and digitized files existed only in the form of dreams and science fiction, most people had a physical shoe box or equivalent where they stacked all the photographs, memorabilia and other physical manifestations of their lives. Part of the point was to be able to go back through stuff to be fondly reminded of friends and happenings you hadn't thought of in some while. In a fairly realistic sense back then, we all had a shoebox of memories.
Today, the size of that box hasn't really changed all that much, but with the change to digital documents, such boxes can hold a lot more than most of us realize. Terabyte drives are the order of the day, and a terabyte can hold a lot of memories.
So, what should you do?
No one answer is right for everyone, nor is the same solution necessarily best for every type of file. My images are stored on a RAID array that can afford to lose a drive without losing any data due to the parity bit redundancy. I do back that up too, but with the RAID configuration I know I'm safe even between backups. And if you're a Lightroom user, be sure you are backing up both your images and the Lightroom catalog with all that invaluable metadata about your images.
As you can infer from the above, my images are on an external NAS storage device. As you can also assume from even earlier in this brief article, my lost drive was an internal drive. Make sure not to overlook having a backup for everything you care about, not just your images.
As an interesting side note, this "shoebox of memories" description could also be said to apply to our own physical memory up there in the brain box in our skulls. The very reason we keep memorabilia of any form, in shoeboxes or in computers, is to augment and jog our own memories and to share with others.