Last week while cleaning my garage I came across an old stash of hard drives I’d placed out there for later use. It’s inevitable for anyone who’s been messing with computers for as long as I have to not build up a stash pile of spare parts. My problem is I tend to keep these parts long after they’ve passed the point of usefulness. In my mind, the hard drives were still “goodâ€? because they were “goodâ€? when I put them out in the garage. And while technically the drives were still “goodâ€? (as relating to working), they were no longer “goodâ€? (as in remotely useful). The largest drive was just over a gig in size — smaller than my current Windows XP directory. The smallest one was 220 meg, about one third the size of a blank CD.
Last Friday I threw all 30 or so drives in a bag and brought them up to work. In between projects I slapped a few of them into an external USB drive caddy I purchased just for this purpose. The ones that worked (most of them) had been formatted long ago. The main reason I brought them to work was to use our industrial size degausser, a device which not only erases the data off of storage devices such as floppy disks, hard drives and magnetic tape, but that often scrambles their little brains so hard that they’ll never work again.
And so, for a few minutes, I swiped each drive across the degausser.
Swipe. BZZZT. Drop. Thunk. Next.
There were only two hard drives in the stack that caught my attention. One was the aforementioned 220 meg hard drive. That was the hard drive my friend Josh Erichsen gave me for very first PC, a 386 DX/40. My family had owned computers before that one, but that was the first IBM Compatible I owned after I moved out on my own. The other hard drive that looked familiar was my very first 1 gig drive. I was working at Best Buy when 1 gig drives hit the market. The MSRP was $999 (yes, $1/meg) but with my employee discount I got the drive for $675, approximately 675 times its current value.
Being the packrat that I am, it’s tough for me to throw away things that are still working. I equate “workingâ€? with “valueâ€? — practicality and/or usefulness rarely factor in to the equation. Along with the hard drives, I forced myself to throw away some network cable (with broken ends) that I’ve been saving from when I worked in Spokane (1998), “just in caseâ€? I need some network cable some day. Baby steps for a Packrat.