I pronounced the second hard drive death of the year at about 8 am this morning. The first occured early in the summer, a death timed well enough that I was exactly in between Windows XP installations and could easily run off to the store and pick up a new hard drive with no more harm done than to my wallet. I didn’t expect, however, that not more than four months later I’d be mourning the loss of another drive.
Something was cleary amiss – for the past few weeks, XP had taken an inordinate amount of time to boot up and general response time when it was finally up was molasses*-slow. And then when I attempted to defragment all of my partitions, the big partition on this particular drive just disappeared – gone, in the electronic equivalent of a “poof,” I suppose: a Windows message that stated something like “Hey, what are you trying to pull here? This drive’s not formatted anymore. You wanna go ahead and do that?” Not really, no – knowing how much stuff stored on that drive that would be irretrievably lost. Oh, sure, I could probably pay for some utility to scrape that stuff out, but, really, do I actually need the four or five deliciously wonderful Jeff Buckley bootlegs I’d downloaded from bt.easytree.org, or that two-disc Decemberists show straight from the soundboard, or any of many other audio delights? No, not really – nothing lost was worth paying to retrieve, and that’s the silver lining, I suppose.
Still, I want to count on these things to stay strong and safe and alive forever. Because I can’t, I can’t really say I keep anything particularly secret in them. I suppose somewhere deep in innards of Windows is some super secret cache of all my credit card numbers used to order CDs online, addresses, things like that, but nothing really significant is stored on the computer. The worry is just this – that it might die someday, taking with it something precious. What if I were writing a book, or had stored every photo I’d taken? These are irreplaceable things. It’s annoying enough to lose something meaningless. I guess I’m lucky that I don’t particularly trust computers anyway, so I’ve never solely relied upon them to keep safe that which I cherish dearly. But I wish I could, and I often wonder how society will truly depend on them as those in the know claim we will. I suppose the day is coming, but for today, we can’t all have arrays of cheap, disposable drives that back up everything we love.
*I am really embarassed to admit that I had to look up “molasses” because I couldn’t remember how to spell it. “Molassis”? “Molassas”? This is especially embarassing because I was a spelling fiend in elementary school, maybe not quite spelling-bee level, but I was damn good. And yes, I was a dork.