As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a bit obsessed with looking back at my past experiences. My calendar is a pinned tab on my browser and I use it just as much to look at what I’ve been up to as for scheduling the future. I love looking at old photos or files for the memories they bring up. When I read my writing from years earlier I can still put myself into the frame of mind I was in when I wrote them.
Even after purging a lot of the physical evidence, I still have totes worth of things I’ve produced over the years. Somewhere in my parents’ house are floppy disks with typing and drawing I did as a toddler. And I know I’ve got some of my most challenging exams and papers from college stashed away for when I want to be proud of my accomplishments.
Photos and videos probably make up the biggest percentage of the mementos I worry about preserving. Nothing makes reliving a memory easier than having a snapshot full of the important details, after all, a picture’s worth a thousand words. The switch to digital photography did nothing to curb the build of my collection, especially thanks to my mom who never deletes any bad pictures, even the blurriest and most embarrassing.
When I was getting to leave my parents’ house in the path of a hurricane I fought with myself about whether to take copies with me in case there was extensive water damage. Thankfully it was just paranoia, since I didn’t end up able to bring any with me, but the thought that I could loose all the pictures of my family made me very uncomfortable. And there are thousands of people for whom my worst nightmare (and then some) came true, when their home was destroyed by any number of natural disasters in recent history.
I’ve had my fair share of lost memories on a smaller scale. Usually because of procrastination in dealing with the actual storage and backup system combined with an easily avoidable mistake. Case in point, one summer I was having some hard drive issues and made weekend plans to go through the files and copy over the things I didn’t have stored elsewhere. Well, one hot summer day working on the patio later and my solid state drive was toast.
I’m pretty sure the main thing I lost was some footage from the last camping trip I took, and maybe a couple of but I’ll never know for sure. I had some big projects in college that got corrupted, and I’ve also lost some important and sentimental emails after an overzealous deletion spree. And most recently, I lost the last draft of this post after making some significant edits…
All that said, I’ve been no stranger to data loss and decided I needed a real plan on how to save and store the files and photos I care about. One strategy has been Backblaze to backup my entire computer. It makes it easy to restore or back up individual files or an entire system. Though I haven’t had to do so in the several years I’ve subscribed to it. If you’re interested, the link will give you a free month when you sign up.
The other strategy I employ is to double cloud back-up my photos. I have an android phone, so all my pictures go into Google Photos automatically. But since we also pay for Amazon Prime, I back up my favorites through the Prime Photos app as well, along with my high quality photos from my fancy camera. I still have a risk of forgetting to download the pictures from disc and upload them, but I’ve been trying to work on building up a habit of doing it every week or so.
In contrast to these methods, I’ve also been trying to consciously focus on living in the moment instead of worrying too much about capturing something so fragile as a digital image. This somewhat backfired on me when I realized I have no footage from the first three months of my son’s life. Which is still something I regret. I can hardly remember those days as it is, what with the lack of sleep, but now I won’t be able to relive them or share them with him either.
There’s such a balance to be struck between simply living life and leaving a record. I certainly hope to have something to show and to share with my family in the years to come. But above all I want to strive to create those memorable moments for the sake of the experience, not the image.