We owe it to each other to tell stories - Neil Gaiman

Monday, 2 November 2015

Getting over the Death of your External Hard drive

There are many occasions in life where loss results in grief and mourning. The loss of a family member. The loss of a friend. The loss of a pet. The theft of your cellphone or laptop or tablet. The death of your external hard drive.

In the age where we buy fewer and fewer physical objects and instead download or purchase downloads our storage devices have become rather dear to us. Since I got my first external hard drive - a trusty 150GB - in 2008 the storage capacity of external hard drives have become quite immense with 3 and even 4TB being quite standard these days. The larger the capacity of your external, the less stable it is; but oh the possibility that lies in all the things you can save! So much space in just one item. So much of an investment in that item, that when it fails - it is not the loss of the object that one grieves, but rather the things contained within it.

My sister and I have this idiosyncratic habit of naming objects - from watches to laptops to externals. I tend to be more nerdy with the names that I select with eponymous characters coming from Harry Potter, Greek Mythology and other literary sources. I once had a 1TB external hard drive that I decided to name after the Muppet 'Animal' as the external made this strange whooping sound like a hyena, not that Animal makes that sound - but it just made absolute sense to me. Animal sadly died after about 6 months, and with it died so many series. My entire collection of Fringe, The Vampire Diaries, Greys Anatomy, Private Practice, series I hadn't even got around to watching yet... I shall refrain from listing them all as I would hate for this post to be a long list of series. I won't even mention the movies. It was tough, it was emotional, I shed a few tears, but after some months I eventually got over the loss of all of my digital treasures.

I suppose I should be thankful that (touch wood, fingers crossed, rub the Buddha's belly) I have only lost two external hard drives so far in 7 years. My most recent loss occurred in February 2015. A 500GB external hard drive tragically named Gatsby - I really should have known better. It was a Sunday. I was re-watching American Horror Story Asylum when suddenly the episode didn't want to play anymore. I tried playing
something else when a message popped up saying I had to format the drive. Format the drive? There was no way that I was going to format this external hard drive that had 3 seasons of Suits, American Horror Story, Parks and Recreation and Adventure Time. I didn't want to lose 2 seasons of The Americans, The Newsroom, Girls and House of Cards. I was not going to willingly format a drive that had every single episode of My Family and David Attenborough's amazing series Life on it.

 So I pressed cancel. Decided that maybe I should restart my laptop and hoped that it would all be fixed after that... Boy was I wrong! I unplugged Gatsby and restarted my laptop hoping that this horrible formatting issue would be a thing of the past. I plugged my external back in, only to hear a sound that is ominous to anyone who has read or watched Peter Pan, well ominous if you are or like Captain Hook. My external started ticking. Poor Gatsby was also not reading, the light was on but no one was home. I was dumbstruck I could not believe this was happening. Gatsby was not even a year old yet. Why would it die? What cruel fate was this? You see, I was in the first stage of grief - denial. This could not and should not be happening so soon. Gatsby was still so young, 500GB should have been quite stable, the odds were surely in my favour? Alack-and-alas 'twas not - Gatsby like his namesake was dead.

The second stage of grief came rather quickly. I still had some hope that things could be salvaged. I googled "what to do when your external ticks" I read several articles, hoping that something could be done - but they all said the same thing; the writing was on the wall. There was nothing I could do to  fix it. I was angry, I was on the verge of being  livid - this should not have happened. Everything was gone. I had been caught between Scylla and Charybdis. Lose your data or lose your data and your hard drive. I lost both, this was not fair. I could not give up so easily, and went into stage three of the grieving process - bargaining. I visited a local shop to see if they could fix it, but the death knell had wrung err ticked.

Then came stage 4 - depression. I was utterly bereft for the loss of all those series, but mostly the loss of the entire series of My Family. I had not watched past season 6 yet, I had 5 more seasons to go. I was fixated on the episode "Reloaded" as it had clips from the first 49 episodes, so it was basically a greatest hits in the form of funny moments. At the end, it had a sequence to the music of Madness' Our House and it was wonderful. I could not listen to Our House without feeling terribly sad and rather close to tears.

I have only recently reached the fifth and final stage of grief for my external hard drive and its contents - acceptance. Gatsby has been replaced by an as yet unnamed external hard drive and some of the series that was lost has been restored through the generosity of my cousins as well as me embracing the physical and buying the DVDs. The loss of Gatsby was unfortunate, tragic even, but in the words of Patsy Stone "These things happen".

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