Last week my work computer finally died. It was almost eight years old, and it had been performing badly and acting up the last several of those years, but I’d kept using it anyway. All of my ongoing work was on there, and because it takes too much time, cost, and trouble to move computers, I’d stayed on the older computer as long as possible.
I was in the middle of several projects when it died — not literally and specifically right then, but in the bigger picture way of looking at things. It actually died sometime in the night while I slept, and in the morning, I couldn’t get it to wake up — i.e., turn on.
I took it surprisingly well. I was expecting extreme panic and a lot of screaming and yelling, swear words at every utterance. But I was quiet and calm as I methodically tried everything I could to turn on the computer and, failing that, began the process of moving my arena to my backup computer.
Almost eight years — that is the longest I ever worked primarily on one computer. It’s not the longest I’ve ever had a computer (My Mac mini, on which I do my archiving, is at least 10 years old), just the longest a computer had ever been the primary one I do most or all of my daily work. Prior to that I was on a new work computer every three or four years.
There’s virtue in upgrading your equipment every three or four years. When you move into a new computer, it’s an opportunity to start fresh and clean and leave behind digital baggage. It promotes organization and a good work ethic, which I’d had for a long time … and then lost a little in the last few years. Now I understand why; it was because I was unintentionally hoarding all kinds of files, and they slowed me down.
Once I got all set up on another computer and accessed my old computer’s backup, I found myself going through old files and e-mails, archiving them, and clearing out old space. My e-mail inbox, set to IMAP so they were all kept on the server, went from thousands of e-mails to just under 20. My hard drive space went from being 15 gigabytes free to over 375 gigabytes free.
It’s like moving to a new place and getting rid of old things — clothes you discover you never wear any more, expired cans of food in the very back of the pantry, odds and ends that have been in the junk drawer forever, receipts and paperwork you no longer need to keep around. In between trips to the moving truck, you’re making trips to the dumpster and lightening your load.
New place, fresh start. New computer, same fresh start.
Work now goes faster, smoother, more efficiently, and the burden that I hadn’t quite realized overwhelmed me is finally off my shoulders. I’m free.
So my computer dying was actually a blessing in disguise.
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