File Not Found 404

We live in the information age.

Now, I know why ignorance is bliss.

I have information coming out of my ears (figuratively, not literally), but the hard part is not acquiring the bits and pieces of information. It is organizing them.Computer hard drives are larger than ever. Mine is perpetually full. So I started using USB drives. I have around 15 of those. When those became unworkable, I moved to external hard drives…then portable external hard drives.

All in all, I have about 25 devices storing 8-ish terabytes of information. That does not even count the drawer-full of obsolete CDs that I cannot seem to throw away even though I have moved the data elsewhere and have only one computer that can even read a CD. I did throw out the 3.5 inch disks that contained my Masters thesis. Progress?

It goes way beyond the devices sitting in my office. My employer set up “Box” accounts for everyone, including personal and shared folders. I also use “Dropbox”. Not to mention my “Drive” account (two of them actually – one for work and one attached to my personal email). I also have a “Live” account. Oh, and how could I forget about “iCloud”? If I have my count right, there are at least a couple more terabytes of data there. (And I am seriously underestimating this!)

I consider myself a well-organized person. It does not come naturally I have to work at it. I backup my files regularly. I go through my digital photos and videos and delete poor quality and duplicate ones. I name and tag them dutifully.

In the past two weeks, I have searched for a photo that I KNOW I have. Yet, it is nowhere to be found. Somewhere in that tangle of cables, cords, and plastic housings is a photo of youngest son with his face plastered in mud. Which year? Which folder? Which tags did I use?

Do you want to know something ironic? My job revolves around knowledge and making sure knowledge gets to people that need it. I do a lot of writing for the web. “Discoverability” is a word I use almost every day, and yet I cannot even find that photo of youngest son in the mud.

Fortunately, I sent a set of backups of the last decade of family photos to my mother-in-law. If I can’t find that photo in that pile, I also sent a backup-backup to my mother. (After our tornado incident, I decided I needed to keep a set of backups off-site.)

My excessive enthusiasm for redundancy is sure to pay off eventually. But is it worth the time I spend looking for that one photo?

So, what is your biggest challenge in organizing your files and photos? Am I really as crazy as I think?


About jheem

I grew up on a diversified dairy farm in southeast South Dakota where I learned how to throw a hay bale, pull a calf, deal with death, and "name" the cows. I was in 4H and FFA, and was privileged to serve as a state FFA officer. In college, I studied animal science, focusing on beef cows, mostly because I figured they were less work than dairy cows....I ended up with a Masters Degree in ruminant nutrition and went to work for the University of Nebraska, first as a research tech coordinating data collection for a swine unit and beef feedlot on a research farm and then as an extension educator. In my current job, I focus on environmental issues related to animal agriculture (which is a nice way of saying I talk about manure alot). My husband and I live and work on a seedstock cattle operation in northeast Nebraska. You can learn more about our cattle operation by visiting my husband's blog at
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4 Responses to File Not Found 404

  1. Wow, this so speaks to me at the moment, especially because I am writing a report on the need for better information management in the work place. You would be a great case study!

  2. How did it happen? The technology was supposed to give us time, not become a thief of it. So vexing. I hope you find your picture 😊

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