Yesterday I talked about deleting old e-mails to help reduce how cluttered my digital life is and increase productivity. Today I’m going to talk about extending that ideology beyond the inbox.
My first computer didn’t have a hard drive. I had to save everything on 5 1/4 inch floppy disks (link provided because some people actually don’t know what those are). Starting around seventh grade and continuing throughout high school, I was creating files in the computer labs at school that I couldn’t just leave on the computers there. I had to save those to 3 1/2 inch floppies (link provided because, believe it or not, some people probably don’t know what those are). While I may not have my old Apple IIe files anymore, I do still have disks with projects from seventh grade. Projects I haven’t looked at in years, mostly because I can’t (hey, you find me an old Mac with Hypercard on it! Actually, Kris, does that Mac Classic you have still work?). Even if I could find a computer to read the disks, I probably wouldn’t be able to do anything with the files. I have disk after disk of nothing but icons and crappy animated GIFs saved off of the internet. In other words, even if I could access the files, would I care what’s on them?
I got my first hard drive when I was a freshman in high school. I bought a refurbished NEC that had a 3.2GB hard drive, and I still have the drive (it’s currently sitting on my desk). In fact, I have every hard drive I’ve ever owned. Why? For the same reason I still have my old floppy disks: Because I don’t want to part with the files stored on them. But just as I don’t know what’s on the floppy disks, I have no clue what’s on the old NEC drive. And when I get around to hooking it up again, will I have software that can open the files?
Two brief notes: I’ll be hooking my old NEC drive up soon, so if I find anything interesting, I’ll let you know. Also, you may have noticed that I said I used floppy disks throughout high school, but that I got my first hard drive when I was a freshman in high school. The NEC ran Windows, whereas the floppy disks were used with Macs.
The last chunk of the problem is that I like to take my old files with me when I upgrade to a new computer (accomplished by hooking up my previous hard drive to the new computer (or by hooking up the old and new computers to the same network) and copying over everything I want). I’m paranoid that they won’t be copied properly, so I save all of the old files on the old hard drive, and keep it around just in case. The result of all this is that now I have several copies of the same thing. To make matters worse, I have tons of versions of the same thing (usually as a result of modifying different copies of the same files at work and at home), some of which are more recent or complete than others, but I can’t tell which is which.
So now I have all of these old files, some of which can’t be accessed, some of which can’t be opened, many of which I don’t remember, and many of which I have several copies or versions of. So why do I need a giant stack of floppies and four hard drives? Well, I don’t. And I sure as hell don’t just need one giant hard drive.
This is where it gets tricky. I could go through all of my old files and attempt to determine what’s what, which version is the one I want to keep, so and so forth, until all of the files have been whittled down. Or, I could just suck it up, burn everything to DVD, label the DVDs really well, and hope that I never have to refer back to those files. Although if I’m going to do that, I might as well just delete them all. What’s a boy to do?
I’m probably going to have to do things the hard way. Some files will be easy: If I think it will be useful later, I can keep it, otherwise they’ll be deleted. Others will be tricky: If they’re copies or alternate versions of websites I’m currently working on, which ones should I keep and which should I delete? It’s going to take a long time, but in the end, I know it will be worth it.