February 4, 2024

New computer and digital clutter

This weekend I set up my new laptop.  I've been using a Macbook air from 2013, and it's been awesome.  The battery isn't great, but that was OK... however it was increasingly not supported by applications so I couldn't really browse the internet, or do online shopping... and I got a lot of web based error messages.  I couldn't update the operating system anymore either.  

My software engineer husband did not want to get a new computer, as he argued we are just falling victim to planned obsolesce.  This may be the case, but I decided 10 years was a good amount of time for a new computer.

This morning I spent an hour setting up the new laptop.  Having an hour of Rachel time was a luxury, as is blogging from the new gorgeous machine!

I had to decide what to bring over from the old machine.  First I started using the migration assistant to move everything... but then I thought this could be a fresh start.  I wanted to bring over photos and documents... and in the process I realised my digital storage system is terrible.  

When I saw how much *stuff* was on the comptuer I decided I should only bring what I really wanted.  I saved everything I needed (documents and photos) into google drive and left everything on the old computer.  I have some photos on the computer but not many, all sorted into folders by year, and these are now in google drive.   

I also have some photos on an external hard drive, and I have some photos on icloud, and I have some photos on a server Andy set up.  

In theory, the main place I've put photos is in our family photo albums.  As a historian (sort of) I generally believe that hard copies of things will outlive digital.  As an example - microfiche was all the rage for archiving things.  But now if I found a microfiche I would have no idea what to do with it.  If I found an old newspaper I could read it.

Even feeling confident that printed albums are the best way of keeping photos for my family I still feel sad at not having a better digital storage system.  Digital clutter is a type of clutter... but it's far easier to ignore than regular clutter.

I also don't particularly want to pay to store thousands of photos.  I do pay apple 99p a month for icloud already.  I'm not keen to start paying google as well.  Also, I'll never have less digital clutter, so unless I think of a system now I will always have more and more things to store online, and less and less ability to sort and review it.

How do you store your digital photos?  Do you print photos?  Will our grandchildren and great grandchildren dispair of our digital clutter in the same way we might recoil in horror at a storage unit filled with photos?


  1. Congrats on the new machine! Always exciting! I have an old mac and it's been slow... Perhaps some maintenance is in order.
    All photos are automatically backed up in iCloud and not paying Google. Well done on carving out time for yourself!

    1. I don't know why I didn't think I could use icloud for all of it, not just for what I take on my phone. I'll have to look into this! I am not going to be paying google - I dislike Google (and use all their products, and then feel bad about it)

  2. I feel like getting a decade out of a laptop is pretty good. After that all you really get is bragging rights and a poorly performing computer.

    Sigh digital clutter. I don't have the answer but I have the problem. Google Photos is my go to for digital albums for photos that I care about. The photos that I don't care about go on an external storage drive. I really should print out albums for us. Someday.

    1. I love your directness! You're so right - bragging rights and a poorly performing computer. I think my husband was mostly sad because the computer hardware is soooo good and still doing great, it's the software that ended it :(

  3. My Macbook Air (about 9 years old) is on its last legs; in fact just this afternoon my husband and I were discussing needing to replace it. It owes me NOTHING. I have used it 1000s of hours for work and leisure.

    I back everything up to OneDrive in terms of my photos (which I organize within an inch of their life), and then I print out an annual photobook).

    1. Aww wow - another ancient computer user! A friend of mine uses one drive and that might be the future for me too. I love that you have it so organized. Do you use an iphone for photos though? how do you integrate iphotos with one drive?

  4. Yay for a new computer. I do agree that 10 years is a good life span for a computer. Macbooks also last longer than regular laptops IMHO. (Mine is 6 years old now and feels almost brandnew to me).

    My digital filing system could be better. I have all my photos on an external harddrive and also archive some on the web (Flickr, which I've paid for for 15 years).