My good friend Doug Moe wrote a column the other day exhorting his readers to PRINT a copy of any e-mail, document, or file they really wanted to keep. Like me, Doug does not take well to those preachy little things you find in various places that say things like “save a tree - save the planet - consider helping to save the earth by not printing this”.
Hogwash. Trees are a crop, a very carefully-managed crop at that. Thousands of years ago when I was a student at Hortonville High School we learned about trees for paper through a program called Trees For Tomorrow. People who have obviously never learned about the paper industry act as though paper companies make wide swaths through residential neighborhoods, cutting down trees willy-nilly and laying waste to the urban landscape.
We grow a lot of trees for paper in Wisconsin….and a lot of trees for use at Christmas time, so don’t talk to me about “waste of resources“. We’re usually in the top five states in the nation for Christmas Tree production, for something that has a “useful life” of about a month.
But Doug’s column wasn’t about the paper industry and its conservation programs, it was about how computers will “disappear” your stuff and you’ll lose it forever - so, if you’re writing a book (like Doug was, about Bret Favre, when he had a “manuscript accident”), best to PRINT OUT the pages as you write them, and not rely on such flimsy artifacts of technology like the thumb drive.
I learned a long time ago to print anything I really wanted to keep - particularly the stuff other people pay me to write. But I got too lax with my policy when I bought a digital camera several years ago, and stored the photos on my computer. In December of ‘07 I had the mother of all hard-drive crashes, and lost most of the pictures I’d taken with that camera.
My tech guys told me this was the WORST hard-drive crash they’d ever seen, because absolutely NONE of the data was recoverable. They told me for about $1500 they could send it off to a place that does work for Homeland Security to see if THEY could get anything off it, but there’d be no guaranty. I had a hard-drive crash in early ‘06 and my tech guys got what they could off that drive, so some of my early pictures were backed up on DVD, thank you very much, but all the photos I took between early ‘06 and late ‘07 were gone, gone, gone.
Now, I pay for a service that backs up everything I tell it to, which is darn near everything. Since I seem to be prone to hard-drive crashes, I’m waiting for the day my investment in this service will pay off.
If past is prologue, I won’t have to wait too long.