Can’t You Just Print It All Out?

I’ve been researching backup options for my laptop recently.  This, of course, has gotten me thinking a lot about all of the horrible scenarios in which data can be lost, but it also reminded me of a funny story.

Many of us in Gen-X are all-to-familiar with having to break their parents and grandparents into the 21rst century technology of computers.  Most of us spent some part of our teen years or part of our 20-something years (or if you have a particularly determined parent like my mother, your 30-something years) attempting to train older members of your family to use their VCRs, e-mail, cell phones, word processing software, and so on.

I recall an incident some 15ish years ago where a friend’s Mac computer was crashing, the hardware was failing, and despite the fact that she had a plethora of computer –unfortunately for her all IBM/Windows and UNIX/LINUX — geek friends, nothing could be done.  There was a group gathered for the crisis as the panic increased and her father came into the room to see what was going on.  When they told him what was happening and his daughter complained that she was going to lose everything, he very practically replied, “Well, can’t you just print it all out?”

Can you even begin to imagine how much time it would take to print everything out that’s on your computer, if it were possible?  Of course, that’s only documents and photos.  You’d lose videos, music, executables, encrypted files, those ebooks not in PDF or Word format.

Amusingly, thinking about all of this, I can remember back when I used to have to save my work to a cassette tape — very noisy.  Then I recall having a home computer which didn’t have a hard drive big enough to actually hold the word processing software so in order to save the document I was working on, I would have to pull out the word processing floppy, press save and quickly insert a blank floppy and hope that the computer didn’t lock up.  I remember losing a 12 page term paper that way once. :P

Of course those incidents were in the 80′s when you could actually print it all out.  Who knew that in less than 30 years we’d go from a few files on a few floppy disks to needing to backup terabytes-worth of data?