Digital Weight

To get right to the point, I’ve been a computer user for a very long time.  I have a lot of digital files.  First, it started out as backups to floppy disks.  Then CDRs became practical, so I merged everything up to CDR.  Then DVDRs became practical, So I merged everything up to DVD. Now hard drives are practical, so I put everything on a network hard drive.  In many cases, I still have the old DVD disks and in some cases the CDRs.

So a couple of weeks ago, my network drive started experiencing the click of death, so now I’ve purchased a RAID1 NAS box with 2 1TB drives.  So I copied all my files to my local computer and figured I ‘d get things sorted out before moving them off to the NAS.  I am finding myself overwhelmed by the volume of data I have collected over 20 years.  Some is personal, some is business from each of my jobs in those years.  Email archives, chat logs, games, documents, zip files with other zip files in them, and more and more.  And in spite of my whining, it’s still less than 500GB, a pittance even compared to some people’s music collections.

Probably 97% of all of that stuff is useless.  Either outdated, duplicated, or irrelevant.  However, even though I understand this, I am reluctant to delete it.  Yeah, I can probably delete the install file for Winzip 95, but the copy of my resume from 1995, although useless, is still a curiosity.  There is no practical reason to have any of this stuff.  The only possible usage of such things would be to have the ability to say “Oh yeah, you should see my resume from 1995!”  Or you could bore the younger generation with stories of how things used to be, showing them 256-color GIF images in 640×480 and say how awesome that was at the time.

Even my saved work is useless.  Those coding styles are long gone, there’s no reusable code there.  The emails are useless, those people have moved on to some other email address years ago.  My pictures, music and writing still has some personal value, since it’s only me that cares about it.  And that’s kind of what it comes down to.  Who cares?  Who is going to contact me and ask “Remember that thing we emailed about back in 2004?  What was that company name?”

All of this stuff is weighing me down.  It’s like having to maintain a library (or a cemetery) all on your own.  I just spent $250 to preserve this digital flotsam and keep it safe.  I’ve been in the process of trimming down some obviously useless material, but now am stumped over how to reconcile years’ worth of file versions.  I think my plan at this point is to make ISO images of the original DVDs/CDRs.  this way, I still have everything, but it appears smaller.

Digital pieces are definitely more manageable than physical memorabilia.  In fact, I’ve been planning the purchase of a scanner to lighten my load of photos, making more digital weight, but reducing my footprint.  Again, with the downsizing…

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