On Sunday, in the process of organizing backup files, A inadvertently deleted all of the movie files from our computer.
We don’t go through life with video cameras glued to our eyeballs, but since Ingrid was born we had taken several hundred snippets of video with our digital camera. Spacy newborn Ingrid waving her arms and legs in the hospital bassinet. Sweaty infant Ingrid lifting her head higher and higher during the “tummy times” of her first summer. The first riveting cooing conversations between baby Ingrid and A. Barely walking toddler Ingrid stomping her feet, bossing the dog around. Spacy newborn Iris in the hospital bassinet, big sister Ingrid poking her hand lightly and exclaiming, I touched the baby!All gone.
It seems this sort of loss is endemic to the computer using world. Of course, if you were Edmund Leach, you still lost—twice—your giant trunk full of notes from your years of anthropological field work in Burma. But that was exceptional. And who, today, hasn’t experienced something like this? Digital loss: It is instantaneous. It is often irreversible. And, more often than not, it is your own damn stupid fault.
Of course, they are gone anyway, all those progressively more grown up versions of our daughters, along with the millions of Ingrids and Irises we lose every day in the ordinary mill of non-digital loss known as time and change. That’s really what made us both cry on Sunday: losing the movies is just a smaller version of what’s happening all the time anyway.
Our friend Chris, a professional photographer who once lost two years of work in a hard drive meltdown, is philosophical about this: When you take a photo, you’re not capturing something, you’re making something new. You think you have something when you have a photo, but you don’t.
He’s right. And also, let’s look at the big picture: we still have our kids.
But damn. It was a sad couple of days.
Is it mean that I waited until the end to tell you that we bought some fancy data recovery software and were able to retrieve almost all of the files? Some are in fragments, and none have dates or titles, but most are still viewable.
Philosophy and magical software aside, though, do this now: if there’s anything on your computer that would make you cry if you lost it, make a backup. And if you ever get it into your head to mess with the backup, make a backup of the backup just in case.