The Five Stages of Data Loss Grief

So your hard drive just died, and you didn't back it up. I'm so, so sorry. You can expect to go through the following five stages once you discover that all of your photos, files and music are gone forever.

Stage One: Denial

"No. No, there's no way. This is probably just a software issue, maybe if I try rebooting again it'll work. I've only had this hard drive for two years, there's no way it just died. I'll get all that stuff back. This silly computer always freaks out but is fine after a reboot. Even though I've tried rebooting five times and it sounds like a fork is suck in a garbage disposal in there, it's probably just the CD drive."

Stage Two: Anger

"Are you fucking kidding me, Western Digital? I've lost everything! I trusted you, and for what? How does a company that sells such crappy products stay in business? I will murder the first WD employee I see. And what the hell is wrong with me that I didn't back this stuff up? I am the biggest idiot in the world and I want to punch myself in the goddamned face. I hate myself and don't deserve to be happy."

Stage Three: Bargaining

"OK, so maybe I can download some software and boot this drive as a secondary drive and try to recover some stuff. I mean, I'll have to go buy a new hard drive and install it and then figure out how to hook this one up as a secondary drive, and I'm not sure where my OS discs are, but hey, I'm a smart guy, I can figure this stuff out, right? Or maybe professional data recovery services have gotten much, much cheaper lately. Yeah, I'll bet they're affordable now, they've gotta be."

Stage Four: Depression

"All those photos. I'll never, ever get them back. I'll never see those faces again. And my essays from college, I was going to share those with my kids someday. And man, all that music, it's taken me years to collect all that. Why did I even bother? It's like the last ten years of my life have just been erased."

Stage Five: Acceptance

"Ah, none of that stuff was that important. Most of it was uploaded to various sites like Flickr, anyways. At least the really important stuff. Regathering all that music will be fun, too! And hey, you know what? Maybe it's good to start fresh every once in a while. And man, hard drives have gotten a lot cheaper since I last bought one. This is really just a good way to put things in perspective; none of this stuff was all that important. Except for those photos. Why the hell didn't I back them up?"

Photo via Flickr

Memory [Forever] is our week-long consideration of what it really means when our memories, encoded in bits, flow in a million directions, and might truly live forever.