An operating system will degrade over a few years, and there exists the unpleasant but necessary duty every three years or so of getting a clean start: the upgrade to the computer system. And so after almost a week of tedious and stressful work, my computer system at home is upgraded. Everything is finally working (from OS down to all drivers and every software application installed and operational.
Actually, it was more of a OS upgrade with existing system transferred into a much better computer case. New lineup: Windows 7 (operating system on a 160 gb RAID), quad core cpu, eight internal hard disks (one 1tb RAID media disk), Logitec 9000 webcam (for Skype for Julia with Grandpa), nine external hard drives, Epson scanner, blue tooth hands-free Motorola headset, two HP 19” monitors for lots of space (Ultramon dual monitor), and a rockin’ new Antec 1200 Tower computer case. Basically, I migrated most of my last system into a new and bigger computer case and moved from XP to Windows 7. I had to re-install every last software application and setting. Exhausting.
Yes, I know: terabytes of hd space in one computer? The answer: they are already almost all filled! All extended family video going back to 1939, immediate family video from 2003 on up, all family pics (I guess I am the family archivist); every school paper and personal letter written since high school, every webpage and related document for my 8 domains, every email since 1996 (in addition to 13 email addresses and all their settings and folders); 210 gb of media for iTunes (every major work in the classical repertoire in iPod video format [me], plus most of the Disney oeuvre [daughter], all for my almost filled 160gb AppleTV downstairs); and everything from work over 17 years. Yes, lots and lots of audio and video, and thousands of pages of my typing in one format or another.
Yet I pause and wonder. I have so much media on all these hard disks from so many different aspects of my life over decades. A part of me wonders if, like a snake, I should shed my past skin and make way for the new one. Just throw all these digital archives in the trash and start fresh; no past at my back, only a future to embrace. Perhaps forgetting is important in life. But so is remembering, and my past also gives meaning to my present: as the cliché goes, who we are today depends on is what we were yesterday. Furthermore, so much of this digital media is so incredibly important to me: love letters and past resumes, video of my mother before she died, snap shots into my psyche in 1987 through my MS Word diary of the time. All my audio and video for iTunes (long ago I stopped doing disks). Then there is almost all my professional output and that which makes me able to make a living for myself and my family. The video and photos of the first minutes of my daughter’s life. All my financial and online banking through Quicken for a decade. Wedding photos and video. It is all organized and all backed up. It is complicated.
A part of me is jealous of my peers who just start a new computer system with almost nothing to put on it. Everything old is new again and – fresh! – like a newborn baby they dive into the future. (Or, more accurately, like Athena they burst from the forehead of father Zeus full grown!) But it is not like that with me. And I have just a little less than contempt for full-grown adults who do not back up their data, suffer some hardware problem, and lose decades of digital artifacts forever. What could they have been thinking?
So I scrupulously back everything up to external hard drives using Acronis True Image 11, and I thank God hard disk prices drop reliably year after year. As they say, one can never be too thin, have too much money — or have too much hard disk space or monitor display area!
And now that I gotten out of the way this onerous duty of upgrading the family computer system, I almost feel ready to hunker down and get ready for the arrival of daughter Elizabeth Anne Geib, expected to arrive in about two and a half months.
Time to return to zombie-land, sodden with fatigue. I am ready.
I don’t play computer games, but I need the space and the fans for so many hard drives and video crunching.