Wednesday, August 27, 2008

If your house were on fire what would you grab first?

It has often amazed me how magazines and Sunday papers ask this question of celebrities. Partly because those kind of people are likely to have an entourage who would swoop in and save all for them and partly because of the answers they give. Not a passport or birth certificate or family heirloom among them. You would hope that their answers are tongue-in-cheek or an attempt to be interesting, but their responses are often bizarre. As the lady behind the counter at my local dairy told me this week when we were both looking at the latest reported doings of Brangelina on the cover of a magazine, "Rich people just don't act like normal people. It's like they are from another planet".

A quick search of online forums uncovers the kinds of answers to that question my dairy lady would relate to. 'Normal' people write that they would save things like photos, scrapbooks, a child's special toy and, increasingly, 'my laptop'.

What started me thinking about this was having the hard drive on my MacBook die a week ago. I am not going into the long story of why my recent backup is gone as well, but suffice it to say that I have to go back to May of this year to recover my work data and June of 2007 for personal data, including photos. There have been enough people telling me wisely in the last few days that Time Machine is brilliant to make me keep a sharp object handy for the next person who says it - it doesn't really help right now. I think everyone who has witnessed my misery has dashed off and ensured that they have backed up AND that the back up is stored securely.

I have had two friends who have had their laptops stolen recently. Hopefully insurance gives them a nice new shiny laptop out of it but for them there is no point looking back- in one case everything is gone, and in the other back ups will resurrect most of the data.

I have been fortunate to have my hard drive replaced very quickly under the Apple warranty and have taken the dead hard drive in to a data recovery place. The good news from them is that if I am prepared to pay a large sum they are confident that at least some of the data can be recovered. The bad news to me is that they have asked me to prioritise the order in which they search for my data. Apparently they may only get one window of time to dig around inside so they want to target the files that are most important to me first.

This data recovery option posed quite a dilemna. First is the data important enough to spend serious money on? Then if it is, personal or work related data first? And then which files? I was holding the phone racking my brains about what was most precious to me or most necessary, and I had to give the answer on the spot. What would you choose?