Rescue the perishing

The title of this post is from the lyrics of a hymn, but it describes how I spent almost all of yesterday and most of the evening before.

My son Mike is limping along with an older HP laptop onto which he downloads the pictures he has taken with his snazzy, new 10.1 megapixel Canon Rebel XTi camera. When I was visiting him on Sunday, he said that Picasa was telling him that he didn’t have room on his hard disk to process the picture he was trying to edit. I checked the properties of his C drive, and sure enough it was 99% full. No problem, you say. Just off-load the pictures that had accumulated to CD or DVD and regain some room. The only problem with that is that the laptop’s DVD reader doesn’t work any longer, so even if it is also a CD burner, that’s not an option.

So I brought his laptop to my house, connected it to my network, copied the pictures onto my computer and burned them to CD for him. There were 22 CDs in all. Then I removed the pictures from his computer and defragmented his C drive. It took from 5:30 P.M. Sunday night until 12:30 A.M. on Monday morning to copy the pictures from 2006 onto my hard drive. I was up at 5:30 A.M. on Monday and I copied the remainder of the pictures since the first of the year to my computer and completed the tasks outlined above by about 5:30 P.M. yesterday.

When I returned the laptop to him with considerably more free space on it (about 55%), I observed that this is going to be an issue that he is going to have to do about every two to three months from now on, since he is now generating much larger picture files due to shooting in maximum resolution (3888 x 2592), and then I realized that he isn’t going to have to do this that often … I am!

The answer to this problem obviously is that he needs a new computer, but for the moment that is outside the budget. As an interim solution we’ve talked about his getting an external hard drive that connects via USB. But even that solution is somewhat problematic. Since this is an older computer, it has a USB 1.1, so while an external back up drive would provide the ability to store his pictures on another hard disk, it would be terribly slow. And frankly, I’m not even sure that such devices work without a USB 2.0 connection. So the saga continues, at least for now.

Update: I just checked Best Buy’s site and they have a Maxtor 60 GB external hard drive for $99.99, and it is backward compatible with USB 1.1, though of course the quoted transfer times relate to USB 2.0 not to the older technology.


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