There are memories that make us happy and then there are memories we’d just as soon forget. This is one I had managed to forget until a friend reminded me why I don’t have any of my early digital photographs. Wikipedia has a pretty good article about it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ILOVEYOU#

These days, all my and Garry’s photos and documents are backed up onto two 2TB SSD external drives. I don’t do a daily backup. I keep pictures on their original cards until I’ve completed a back up, usually around the first of each month. Sometimes, when it has been an unusually busy month photographically, I do two backups, one in the middle of the month and another at the beginning of the following month. Since prices have come down, I’m thinking of getting a third backup, maybe a 4TB SSD drive because you can’t be too safe.

My friend Ben talked me into buying SSDs as backup drive rather than the older, slower drives which were less than half the price of the SSDs. I have been grateful ever since. SSDs are a huge improvement. They have no moving parts and are less likely to fail. They are ridiculously fast compared to “standard” external HHD drives and smaller and lighter. The speed alone makes them worthwhile. I can move a couple of thousand photographs in under a minute.

As it currently stands, I have about 175,000 photographs. I didn’t have that kind of volume on the computer in 2000. Digital photography was still pretty new. Also, I was working full time so I wasn’t taking nearly as many photographs.

I think I was still using a Sony Mavica that had a floppy disc instead of an SD card. A floppy disc? They weren’t floppy, though they were originally big, soft and floppy. By 2000, they were encased in a hard plastic shell. I didn’t get serious (again) about photography for another couple of years. When Garry and I were married in 1990, I had a Canon Rebel DSL using film. Remember film?

No? I guess you’re too young. All the photographs I took on our honeymoon in Ireland were shot on film. Thirty-seven rolls of film in 36-shot color rolls. It took me months to get them all processed. Processing was expensive. No wonder we so enthusiastically embraced digital photography. Anyone who ever had to ransom massive quantities of film was thrilled by SD cards.

I had photographs from vacations, but they were printed. So although I lost all my photographs, I was not deeply immersed in the digital universe yet. Five years later, it was a very different story. Times not only changed, but they changed fast. Technology was downright supersonic in the early 2000s.

I was working mostly at home being an early telecommuter, so it was not unusual for me to get coded stuff from co-workers. Viruses, worms and trojans were still thought to be rare. Twenty-three years ago, the internet was not a giant international shopping mall and fake news generator. Many of us still paid for email and most folks did not have home computers. We didn’t have serious malware protection either. It was in development and this particular virus was one of the things that kick-started the virus protection racket.

I was backing up my work files at home to a big tape drive machine (which turned out to be completely useless when I needed it) and to the big server at my office. I wasn’t backing up photographs. I never imagined a virus would arrive out of nowhere and destroy all my photographs in mere minutes.

When that virus arrived, I knew it was code. Most people didn’t know what it was, but I did. I was used to getting messages using code which was often included in the documents I wrote. It didn’t seem suspicious so I opened it.

In maybe a minute — possibly less — the “I love you” virus destroyed every photograph and document on my computer as well as a bunch of other files. I had to reload the operating system. From the server at work, I used the backups to restore the documents. Fixes for the virus became available pretty fast, but it was too late for my photographs.

So that’s how I lost all my early digital photographs. If I didn’t have a print of it, it was gone as of May 5, 2000. These days, I back up everything. If you don’t, you probably should. You really never know what might happen, completely out of the blue.

Categories: #Photography, #Work, Anecdote, Cameras, Computers, Malware-Viruses-Worms, Technology, You can't make this stuff up

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8 replies

  1. Dang! That’s a lot of photos. I “lost” a ton that my ex had stored on a hard drive he misplaced (or whatever). I had to let it go… but it still makes me mad!


  2. I read about the I Love You virus in one of David’s computer books. He read a lot of books about hackers, to the point where I worried that he wanted to become one. I read most of those books and found them quite interesting. We did have a computer by 2000 but I did not get into digital photography for another five or six years. We were still using film so I do remember that expensive processing. I think that apart from not having to pay for processing the thing I loved most about digital photography was never having to worry about running out of film. We always carried a spare roll or two but you really did have to think about how many shots you had left.


    • I missed some of the things you could do with paper prints, especially in black & white — but boy, I didn’t miss the expense. At some point, I gave up using the expensive (better) printer and went to the usual drug store (cheaper) printer — but it was still hundreds of dollars and in 1990, that was a lot more money than it is today.

      I instantly loved digital photography. I could finally take as many pictures as I wanted and I didn’t have to pay for each print. I got a little crazy and took too many pictures until I calmed down and realized digital was here to stay 😀

      I think it was around 2010 when I got serious about cameras and lenses and photography again. I had been in the 1960s and 70s, but when I got back from Israel, life got crazy. I was so busy, I didn’t have time to deal with it. For a while, I didn’t have a camera at all. I was waiting for digital to “come of age”. That interval between film and digital took few years and then, suddenly, Canon and Nikon and all the others gradually slid into digital — and I bought a camera, then another camera, and finally a big Canon with lenses and eventually, I moved to the Olympuses.

      2000 was a very funky period photographically. We were sort of digital, sort of not quite REALLY digital. Sometimes I forget how FAST everything changed in the early 2000s. It was an insane time for technology.

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      • It was. I know we had the internet before we came to Tasmania so probably got it in 1999-2000 but it was dial up. Hard to imagine not being connected all the time now isn’t it? I think the other thing that I love about digital is that I can store everything on the computer, the card and the back up drive but if I want to print something for framing or scrapbooking I can just print the good ones. Now to figure out what to do with the whole cupboard containing photos from the preceding two or three decades.


        • And I remember my FIRST modem — 1200 bps! Then I got a REALLY fast one: 2400 bps — and it took so long to connect, I could create and serve dinner AND wash up — and maybe by then I’d have connected. And then again, maybe not. It was so very SLOW. We had just moved here and didn’t get fiberglass cable until a year later.

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