Email is my cloud storage. I’m lazy and it’s the quickest, easiest way to archive documents. I send myself emails almost every day. I create a new email, usually with a subject line like “that thing you wrote,” type a couple of words into the body along the lines of “proof this later,” and hit send. I then click my inbox and get excited that I’ve just gotten a new email from someone. I’m like a goldfish with a ten second memory. Goldfish have gotten a bad rap. Their memories are not actually that short. We’re thinking of Dori from Finding Nemo. It’s probably because of that Ani DiFranco song “Little Plastic Castle.” Does anyone remember that? No? Just me? Well, anyway, whenever I send myself email it’s like that song—I’m surprised every time. Hurray, someone sent me something...oh, right. That’s from me. I just wanted to save my file.
Earlier this year I got rid of an old computer. It was a beast: a tan monstrosity of a tower with a ten thousand pound tube-style monitor and an internal zip disk drive. It was the Mad Max of PCs. It was actually a really good computer…when I bought it in 2004. Having 3 gigs of storage on the hard drive was a big freaking deal. And I had filled it up. At the time that I got it, I had some actual functioning knowledge of computer hardware and had removed the hard drive from the computer I had before that and installed it as a back-up hard drive. I had a lot of data on those drives. The PC had cost me about $1,500. It had state-of-the-art video graphics drivers, a writable CD drive (DVDs weren’t really a thing then), and I shelled out extra for that zip drive. Remember zip disks? They were like floppy disks after too many Big Macs. By that I mean fat, not depressed and covered with acne.
This Ferrari-slash-Frankenstein of a computer was actually a very good tool. I wrote my Master’s thesis on it. I played countless hours of Morrowind on it while I was procrastinating writing my Master’s thesis. I moved Max no less than five times; I kept it and moved it a couple of times even after I had replaced it with a shinier, faster computer. Two of them actually. Why? Because of all the damned data I had stored on the hard drives. I didn’t have most of it backed up to portable media. Yes, I guess if I moved the computer to different places, it’s technically “portable” but did I mention the monitor weighed like eight thousand pounds? It wasn’t ideal. Also, I had been housing Max in the basement of the last couple of places I lived so the data was not even being accessed.
The first computer I got after Max was my first laptop, a Dell I got in 2007. Although I outwardly claimed I needed a laptop since I was back in school and had to be more “mobile” as well as have access to new software, the real reason I got the laptop was because Max did not meet the minimum system requirements for playing Oblivion. In fact, I replaced that laptop several years later with a newer laptop so I could meet the minimum system requirements of Skyrim. Yep, I upgrade my technology in order to play new games. Between laptops one and two, I also bought a new desktop (which I am typing on right now) and refurbished and gifted laptop number one to my mom. Through it all, Max sat unused, a hefty reminder of all the freelance work I had done in the early two thousands that had been archived nowhere other than his rusty innards. (Don’t even get me started on the word processor I had before Max. The writing I did on that thing had to be re-typed completely.)
So, I finally decided this year that I needed to get rid of Max. I dug him out of the basement and hooked up all the cords and periphery bits. I was pleased to discover that I still remembered how. I plugged him in to the outlet and hit the power button. There were noises. Whirring. Sputtering. And then nothing. Unsurprisingly, a decade of disuse and mishandling had rendered Max completely uncooperative. I fiddled, I fidgeted, I plugged and unplugged. Same results. Max was not going to boot up. I picked up the whole system, put it in my car, and drove it to Goodwill. So long, Max. I hope your next owner enjoys my NC-17 rated Xena: Warrior Princess fan fiction. God only knows what else was stored in you.
In summation, back up your data.