There is a good chance you have a ton of digital detritus mucking up the works of data centers all over the world from Delaware to Delhi. It’s like digital shoeboxes scattered hither and yon, full of once crucial work and forgotten memories of half-eaten donuts at that bistro where you met your spouse… You get the idea.
Most of these bits of information are utterly meaningless and highly forgettable. But some of those items are rather valuable. They are memories that you would rather keep and revisit. They are work-related items that matter to your bottom line. And they are life’s little administrivia that have to be filed away, just in case: out of sight, but never completely out of mind.
None of that valuable information is completely safe while it is in digital form. All kinds of bad things are subject to happen to your property when it is in the form of bits and not atoms. You may have it filed away on a Cloud service for which you have long forgotten the username and password. In all likelihood, there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.
There are other situations, like the one hard drive crashing that held all that precious information locally. Lucky for you, there are hard drive data recovery services that stand a good chance of being able to recover that data before it is completely lost to the world.
While there are experts standing by who can help you recover from a near disaster, your best option is not to be in that situation in the first place. Here are a few things you should do before setting up your digital archive and forgetting it:
Print and Share Your Most Valuable Photos
In the post-film world, it is far too easy to take thousands of meaningless photos. We take more photos than we have time or inclination to bother looking at later. They just sit there taking up space on hard drives and cloud storage.
But what about the good ones? What do we do with those? It seems most people are content to share them once on Facebook and forget them. The full-quality version of that image never sees the light of day.
Here’s a suggestion right out of the 1990s. Pick up a photo printer and plaster your walls with memories. Make duplicates of the great ones, and give them to special people as gifts. It is not just reviving old tech habits. It is about preserving your memories in a way that will actually give you the enjoyment for which you made them in the first place.
Save It to Flash
It is not practical to make a printout of every document you happen to be working on. Don’t even think about printing out your work email. However, if you travel for work, you have likely experienced what it is like to lose your big presentation to the digital gremlins.
While you can’t print it all out, you can put every file you are working on in a folder on a flash drive. With capacious yet inexpensive drives available everywhere, there is no excuse not to have a current copy of everything related to your important projects. Even after a total meltdown, you can be back up and running in minutes.
Burn That Funky Music
The music industry recently reached a milestone: The music industry made more money from online streaming services than CD sales. That means that now more than ever, fewer people have a hard copy of their life’s soundtrack.
Even mighty Apple has devastated loyal customers by destroying entire music collections via their oft confusing and buggy Apple Music service. If your kid’s first concert gets lost in some half-baked, online music library, you are never getting it back.
Burn disks. And keep that music archive in a few shoeboxes next to those photos. You’ll be very glad you did.
In a perfect world, bits would be enough. But this is not that world. And we need to save our precious memories in cold, hard atoms for now, and the foreseeable future.