Call Me a Slow Learner

Go ahead, I won’t be upset.

About two years ago my Toshiba laptop bit the dust. I freaked out, worrying that all of our family photos since 1998 had been lost. Stupidly I hadn’t printed all of them, uploaded them to Flickr, made back-ups, or any of the other sensible things I should have done.

Fortunately the hard drive wasn’t damaged so Teacher was able to recover most of the data from it. Several months of photos were still missing, including Princess’s high school graduation and Angel Face’s confirmation and eighth grade graduation, but we had the vast majority of them. Recently I was whining about the lost photos, so Teacher went into the Toshiba’s hard drive again and found the missing photos – my man rocks!

Shortly after the Toshiba died Teacher and I looked into different back-up options. We couldn’t decide what type would work best, and before long other things took precedence and we forgot all about back-up.

Then disaster hit.

On New Year’s Day my “new” Dell laptop crashed, and crashed hard. At first I was more annoyed than worried. I figured that at worst we’d get a new hard drive drive, pop the old one into the external drive Teacher had bought when the Toshiba died, and I’d be back in business.

I was so wrong.

Teacher bought a new hard drive, but when he tried to access the Dell’s hard drive there was nothing there.





Two years’ worth of everything that was important enough to keep – gone.

At first I refused to worry; I put myself into Avoidance and Denial Mode. I wouldn’t let myself think about what was locked in that hard drive like Peanut’s entire lifetime’s worth of photos and kept myself frantically busy so I wouldn’t have time to think.

Teacher worked incredibly hard to crack into the hard drive. He spent countless hours searching online for solutions, downloading programs, doing everything except standing on his head. Which I’m sure he would have done if he thought it would help.

Finally he was afraid to try anything else because he didn’t want to damage the drive.

Cowboy offered to take the drive to The Geek Squad at Best Buy. Cowboy’s been a bouncer greeter at Best Buy for a while, but aspires to become part of the Geek Squad in the near future. He told us that as long as the drive wasn’t physically damaged The Geek Squad could get something off of it.

Carefully I wrapped my hard drive – and the past two years of my life – in a plastic bag and handed it over to Cowboy. Then I began a campaign to keep busy so I wouldn’t worry.

It wasn’t easy; I couldn’t blog because the photos I wanted to include were gone. I couldn’t update my sites, stock my boutiques, look up lesson plan ideas. Everything I tried to do required something that had been there before, but wasn’t anymore.

Several days passed and I held out hope.

But then Cowboy brought the drive back with bad news: The Geek Squad said it had overheated and they couldn’t do anything with it.

Two years of my life just disappeared; one day they were at my fingertips, the next they were gone.

I felt numb and like puking at the same time; a really weird combination.

Why didn’t I make back-ups? Why didn’t I burn those DVDs?

I wanted to crawl into a hole and never come out.

Why was I so stupid? Why didn’t I learn the first time?

I wanted to wake up and find out it was just a bad dream.

Why, why, why?

I thought I was handling it well, but when I was alone with my thoughts I lost it. I wrapped my arms around myself and sobbed. Most of the documents were replaceable, but the photos – losing our family photos broke my heart.

After a little while I pulled myself together. I consider myself an emotional person but I’m not prone to tears, drama or emotional displays; I’ve always prided myself on the ability to hide negative emotions behind a calm, dignified facade.

I figuratively kicked myself in the behind put on my big girl panties and gave myself a stern talking to.

“Get over it. They’re only pictures; it’s not like the house was hit by a tornado or a freak winter flood. No-one died, no-one is sick. They’re only pictures; we still have the memories. People lived happily their entire lives before cameras invented. Stop being a baby and get on with life.”

I didn’t feel better immediately, but from that point on whenever I started to feel sorry for myself I gave myself another mental kick in the butt and repeated my mantra: “They’re only pictures; the memories are still there. They’re only pictures; the memories are still there.”

Eventually I started coming to terms with the loss. They’re just pictures, after all. I copied everything from the Toshiba’s hard drive onto my new computer and started recreating the more important documents. Every day the new computer feels less like a stranger and more like home.

Now we just need to set up a back-up system, and with my track record the sooner the better!

Have you ever suffered a similar tragedy with your computer? How did you handle it?
Amy Sue


  1. The photos that you blogged will be on your webhost so you can atleast get those ones back?

    • Emily,

      Yes, the photos I’ve blogged and the ones I posted to Flickr and Photobucket can be recovered. Most of the Photobucket ones are product photos for Zany Zebra and the Flickr ones are from the blog, but something is better than nothing.

      Thanks for your concern, and for taking time to comment. 🙂

      ~Amy Sue

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  3. Dear Amy Sue,
    I own a computer repair franchise. If you don’t object, I’d like to use a copy of your story on your lost photos on my news listing page. Fast Techs is a national computer repair company, the story is on my local website, but part of the Fastteks corporate site.

    I have fully attributed the story and included a miniature of your blog header that is live linked back to your website. My hope is that it will help motivate people who are living dangerously to begin backing up their digital memories.

    I will post you a link to the page when it goes through corporate review and becomes accessible for viewing.

    Mark Benedict

    PS Thanks for raising a Marine Patriot,
    27 year Army Soldier here.

    • Mark,

      I’d be honored for you to include my story on your site! You can include both if you want – what a perfect example of learning the hard way but still not taking the steps you should. 😉 I hope my story encourages other people to back up their data before it’s too late. (BTW, I’ve made DVDs of my photos finally! We plan to set up another system also, but the DVDs are better than nothing.)

      Please do sent me a link when the page is live; I’d love to see it!

      PS- I can’t take credit for raising the Marine, but I did let my daughter marry him. 😉

      Have a great day,
      ~Amy Sue

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