My Least Favorite Post. Ever.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

This is a post I wish I never had to write.

On Friday, my worst fear was confirmed...we lost all the data on our external hard drive. After troubleshooting on our own and eventually sending it to the manufacturer (it was under warranty) they returned it repaired but blank. And there goes thousands of pictures, hundreds of graphic designs, our entire music library, loads of important documents and most of my Etsy shop. (Also known as "seven years worth of work, edits and memories") I am sick to my stomach. For weeks I dreaded the final answer, having a feeling it would be one I didn't want to hear. Realizing my worst nightmare had come true, I felt what I can only image people experience (to a much higher degree) when their house burns down, a mix of total shock, sadness and anger at the realization they've lost everything.

In the post you'll learn:
 -that I'm a bit anal attached to organization
 -how to keep this from happening to you

After Alex & I merged lives so did our computer files. Between desktops, laptops and USB flash drives, we began saving all data to a shared external hard drive, replacing and transferring to a new/bigger memory bank every few years. Over time, this collection had grown to include:

  • Thousands of personal photo's spanning from pre-wedding to present, meticulously organized by date and event
  • Hundreds of graphic designs including current business/blog logo's & a large portion of my Etsy shop
  • Our entire music library - hundreds of albums, categorized by genre, date, etc. 
  • Four years worth of family budgets in which I had logged every.single.receipt.
  • Christmas lists/holiday budgets. Wondering what I got you for Christmas 4 years ago, I have the answer!
  • Moving address list - an updated list of every person, company, magazine and rarely used department store credit card that would need to be informed upon any relocation. Complete with their contact info - just to make it easy on myself.
  • Any resume/cover letter I've ever sent
  • A running list of any interview I'd ever had, followed up with details like important questions they asked, what I did well and what I could have done differently.

These are just the things I can remember, I'm sure more will surface as time progresses. As silly as it might sound, it really feels devastating. So much gone at one time. On the other hand, I'm trying to think of it as a cleansing. Luckily, the 'best of the best' photo's were uploaded to Picasa and/or Facebook. If willing, we could spend the money to replace the music/albums. And I probably have hard copies of many things I don't even realize. I guess this is a good lesson for me to cut the attachment with 'stuff'. True, some of it I did need. But a good portion was lists I created and folders full of things that really just made me feel organized and in control.

I wanted to share because it feels good to vent some good needs to come of this...if I can keep this from happening to any of you super talented, creative, thoughtful people may I offer some advice:

First, go home and hug your hard drive. Thank it for keeping all your treasures safe and there when you need them.

-Back-up everything on a 2nd drive from time to time. Despite our misfortune, I still do believe that external drives are the way to go. But I was a fool to think it would last forever, even with our 'replacing every few years strategy'. (This last one lived less than a year.)
-If you're a photo person, upload every image you care about to a website like Picasa - it's my preference because the images can be downloaded in full quality if needed for prints, etc.
-I'm also going to start utilizing Google Docs more often, how convenient!
-If you have documents with no need for edit, consider burning them on discs for safekeeping.

I don't have all the answers, this is just a list of what we would have/will do differently going forward. If this has ever happened to you, let me say I'm so, so sorry. If you have any suggested methods of file safekeeping I would love to hear from you!


  1. Oh wow. I don't even know what to say.

    And I am now officially freaked out. I just emailed hubby and told him we need to have at least 2 external hard drives just in case.

  2. Oh man, what terrible news! I'm so sorry to hear about this. I've had some near-death computer experiences but was luckily saved. We back up our computers as often as possible - my husband is a software developer so he's all things computer.

  3. oh...that sucks! i had most of my files lost when my old computer started now i'm a copy - making freak. i try to write cd's and dvd's every now and then and always keep copies in my external disc and yet still have the fear of losing data in the back of my mind!
    i can completely cope with this situation...90% of my work is computer based or saved.

  4. Ughhh I just got sick to my stomach for sorry to hear this. You will have to have a fresh start now! I need to do this, the pictures are probably the hardest. Maybe printing out the most special ones and keeping in an album (old fashion I know) but safe to say you'll have them forever, I still like to do this. So sorry.

  5. Oh no! I would cry. Did you cry? All of those important very sorry.

  6. I am sorry...that is just the pits. It's a good reminder that I need to think of this stuff because my PC has been acting up. I hope you find some more resolution as time goes by. Hang in there!

  7. Oh Ashleigh, I'm so sorry! We have a shiny, new external hard drive waiting to be taken out of its box, and your post is absolutely encouraging me to get serious and get that thing working for us! I can only imagine how you feel, and I wish things hadn't worked out like they have, but everything will right its self.

  8. Wow, I am so so sorry! I can't even imagine how horrible you must feel right now. I have my dissertation (not to mention thousands of other documents and all my photos) on my laptop and an external hard drive and stuff like this gives me nightmares - losing it all would be so massively devastating that it makes me queasy to even think about it. I wish there was something I could do help you and, again, I'm so so so sorry.

    xoxo ~ Courtney

  9. Mel - I cried & vomited. (TMI?) It was gut wrenching :(

  10. Oh no! We have an external hard drive but now I want another one to back that up!

  11. Oh my gosh that's horrible! I definitely need to bak up my photos more often. Thank you for the reminder. So sorry this happened to you, darling.

  12. I had a desktop about five years ago that had music, photos, and stuff I had written for the year or so I had it. I ended up leaving my apartment and asking my cousin to hold on to the computer for me. After a really bad thing concerning my cousins happened, the house was boarded up and put up for sale. I never got that desktop computer back and I can't remember half of the stuff I had on there. Luckily, I got most of the music back and all, but it was a big wake up call and I now buy a hard drive as often as I buy a laptop. Just lately, I got my hard drive back from my brother and since he had programmed it to his Mac, I freaked out because I couldn't get it to work. Luckily he fixed it. I'm so sorry that you lost your hard drive. It goes to show that even things like those are fickle.

  13. omg that is SO awful to hear!! i am so sorry...i would be absolutely devastated.... i bought Mozy and online backup site to backup everything. I have an external drive too.

    PS- heather morris is from glee! ;)

  14. agh - this could totally happen to me. i need to get a back up. thanks for the advice! sorry to hear about your experience... :(

  15. OMG, my heart hurts for you. I know a bit what that's like, but never had 7 years worth of files erased. I do backups now every few weeks of all my most important files & photos, but putting them online is a great idea also.

    It's nice to meet you too Ashleigh! Thanks for following, I'll follow you too so we can keep in tough :)

  16. Oh Ashleigh!!!
    I am DEVASTATED to hear about this!!!! I am so so sorry. As a fellow creative I can only imagine what it must feel like. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us and giving tips on how to avoid this terrible experience. Thoughts and prayers with you my dear.

  17. Oh darling, I'm SO sorry. This has happened to me before and, needless to say, I was absolutely devastated. I now have an external hard drive and back up every other day. I hope you get things organized again.

  18. oh my gosh, i am so sorry to hear (or read about) this! i would feel sad and empty too!
    :( :( :(

    thank you for warning us about this.

    <3, Mimi

  19. This just really really breaks my heart. Your Etsy things really rally breaks my heart. I am so sorry.

    PS... I am reluctant to join Picasa because of their privacy policies and ownership of the photos. But I haven't found a better solution to saving photos. Other than saving them to a USB drive and hoping I'll never lose it.

  20. I'm new to your blog, this is the first time I've visited! And what a sad note to join on. I'm so so sorry to hear about your hard-drive. I can't even imagine the loss, especially of pictures. I wish I could offer some words of encouragement but sometimes in situations like this just a "that really sucks, I'm so sorry" is the best anyone can say. And now I'm going to go back up my harddrive.

    It was a pleasure to *meet* you, even on a bad day.

    <3 Ashley
    ashley dot hasty at gmail dot com

  21. oh nO!! i am soo sorry this happened to you!! i can't imagine what you must have gone through! this is a great reminder for all of us to back up often and to multiple sources!!

  22. Oh nooooooooo! So sorry, that just really sucks!
    And it is also a remonder that I REALLY need to get an external hard drive and take a backup of all my stuff or the same could happen to me since I keep all my stuff on my pooter atm...

    Hugs and sorry again :/

  23. So sucky. Blegh. I am doing a full back up today!


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