Virtual Boxes in the Garage

October 25, 2009

Moving data from an old computer to a new computer is a bit like moving in the real world. The anticipation of having all your stuff neatly put away, orderly and tidy in the new place isn't enough to carry you through the actual doing.

Rather than just copy all my old documents and files from the PowerBook to the MacBook Pro I decided I'd sift through the data and copy what I wanted and needed. And that I would impose better (or at least different) organization as I went. After two days I've barely scratched the surface.

I could wave a white flag and just copy the lot of it from one machine to the other. I'd have all my stuff, and for the most part I'd know what the was and vaguely where it was at. Somehow that feels like moving to a brand new never-been-lived-in-house and bringing all your old two-by-four furniture and cinder block bookcases.

Or I could create a "PowerBook" directory on the new machine and park all the data there. Then I could leisurely sift through when the mood struck me and organize and catalog and properly locate everything. Yeah, right. This method has worked so well in the real world that there are boxes in the garage which have been moved two or three times, perhaps across state lines.

Leaving the data where it is (on the PowerBook) and only going to it when I need something is an option. I think of this as the "storage locker" approach. For several years some portion of my belongings were in storage about 5-minutes drive away from where I lived. Periodically I would want something that was "in storage." Sometimes I'd go get it and sometimes not. Having to go there and find it made it surprisingly easy to live without some things. And sometimes when it was something I really needed, like my passport, hours were spent in fruitless searching. Not having a storage locker is truly a blessing.

The pain or cost of having to go to the storage location was good in a way, and leaving my data on the PowerBook until I need or want it would mimic that "cost." Perhaps this would be good in that I would be less likely to copy stuff willy-nilly but rather only copy that which I truly needed.

If for some reason the PowerBook was going to go away I'd copy all the data in a heartbeat and sift through it on the new machine over time. But the PowerBook isn't going away, and it is backed up in case it's hard drive decides to stop working, so for now I think I'll try the virtual boxes in the garage approach to transferring my data.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.