Triage: that could've been worse...


I currently own five hard drives — two internal, three external. (Now there’s a lede guaranteed to draw reader interest, eh?)

The pre-installed Apple drive is fine. It’s old, though — the whole machine is old — so it’s pretty small. Holds the OS and most of my applications, that’s about it. I thought I was being pretty smart when I figured out I could still use it as a boot drive, by just creating symbolic links for my Documents, Photos, and Music folders pointing to the Seagate add-on drive I installed last year.

Which is now a brick. Machine won’t even boot if it’s plugged in. So not feeling so smart anymore. Documents, photos, and music — that’s pretty much everything that matters.

Fortunately, there are those other three hard drives. One of them is an iPod. So that covers the music end of things. (Though weirdly enough, since I no longer have enough free space to copy those files anywhere, I can’t actually play that music through the computer anymore. This is great, actually, by which I mean stupid and wrong: the DRM-protected iTunes tracks I can play; iTunes automatically copied those onto the machine, meaning that it recognizes me as me, the owner of that account and that iPod. However, the unprotected plain old MP3 files I cannot play; iTunes shows them to me as greyed-out text and offers to erase them forever every time I plug in the iPod. Which is nonsensical in several ways: why let me copy the protected files, but not the unprotected files? And why prevent me from playing my music through iTunes, given that I’m perfectly well able to play them on, y’know, headphones? What kind of sense does that make? Especially when I can copy all the files easily from the command line. As soon as I have space to copy them to. Which I don’t.

Meanwhile I’m using these strange shiny objects called CDs. It feels weird.

So that’s music covered. “Documents” and “Photos” are another story. I have another external LaCie drive named “UnreliableBackup”, so named because it tends to mount only every fourth or fifth reboot, and tends to crash if it moves or gets breathed on at all. That almost accidentally contains a backup — or rather, now, the only copy — of most of my photos and files, from September. This backup exists not because I keep any sort of rigor about backing up my files, but only because I used it as a temporary transfer point while moving things around at some point, and then declared it a lost cause after it crashed for the sixth time, and tossed it in the back of a closet.

So now we’re down to only three or four months worth of data lost. By a freak of good fortune, most of the stuff I’ve done during that period that I care about is video work, which I keep on its own separate drive. Which is fine. I did have a moment of panic when I found out that all the captured footage for Honey Glazed had wound up on the dead-brick drive by mistake — but I recaptured it from tape, pointed the edit project file at the new copy, and it all worked out. Hooray for time code!

Final tally: I’ve lost a few months worth of photos, during a period when I wasn’t taking many photos anyway. Probably a handful of other files and applications that I won’t find out about until I go to use them. And hours and hours and hours of time. Not bad, really. Could’ve been a whole lot worse.

The irony is, for months now I’ve been complaining about how slow and unresponsive and old this machine is, and saving up for a fancy new one as soon as the new model comes out. At least part of that unresponsiveness was the hard drive dying a slow and painful death, but I didn’t realize that until too late. But it’s still pretty slow, especially now that I’m doing all this video work. This would seem like the perfect excuse for an upgrade.

But it feels like it’d be pretty stupid to buy a new mac now. I was hoping they’d announce updates to the Mac Pro line a few days ago, but instead that event was all taken up by the iPhone — so now I’ll probably have to wait until WWDC in April. It’s very tempting to just buy the current top of the line instead of waiting, but if I do that, it’s virtually a guarantee that Leopard will support multi-touch screens, run 50 times faster, slice, dice, and glow in the dark — but only on the next-generation hardware, with its 256-bit nine-core GlowyBitsInside™ processors. Which will be released a week after I buy the newly-obsolete model. I’m pretty good at that sort of thing.

So I will buy yet another external hard drive, just for now. And I will back everything up onto it immediately. And I will hang in there.

Speaking of which: when’s the last time you did a backup? Hmmm?