I do not have the capacity
to pay for storage space
In recent months, Google has missed no opportunity to remind me that my storage is running out. It sends threats that I may no longer be able to send or receive emails. It plays on my fears using words like ‘dangerously low’. So I was like okay Google, I GET IT. I’ll delete those large files so you’ll leave me alone.
Truth be told, storage space has been weighing heavy on my mind this whole year. I started to compulsively compile videos of my trips and other experiences so that I could do away with all of the raw files and clear up space. But I’ve found myself feeling consistently bogged down by this looming and ever-present sense of dwindling capacity.
As I was saying, I started to delete a whole bunch of files from my Google Photos. I deleted about 3 years’ and 6 gigabytes worth of data, and transferred it to my external harddrive. Feeling lighter, I hit refresh. Storage still full. The next day, I’m receiving the same warnings. I read that sometimes Google takes a few days to process and reflect a sudden big change to files, so I waited those few days. Two weeks later and my storage is still full and I’m convinced Google is playing me.
My father has always warned me about keeping regular backups of my stuff, and to have at least one mirror of everything that I think is important. I’ve always known that a harddrive can crash at any moment, and as someone who’s worked as a photographer, I’ve needed a lot of both space and guarantees of it. Not once has a harddrive of mine ever crashed until, as it had to happen, a couple days ago. Everything I had deleted off of Google and put on there - gone. And there wasn’t even extra space on my G-drive to show for it. Amina is naturally feeling very much played by both Google and the Universe.
It felt like too much to happen at once, during a time that I’m already stressed about storage. I’m aware there are solutions, that I can just buy more space, either physically or online. But something about this most convenient online solution doesn’t sit well with me - I have to keep paying for a service in order to allow for my increasing data footprint, and what happens if I want to stop paying for it? Or if at some point, I can’t? It just doesn’t seem sustainable.
So what we’re left with for the moment is two things: letting go of the sudden losses, and some serious digital decluttering. As I do this, I sift through years and years of my past. Some of what I’m reminded of makes me smile and share it on a Whatsapp group, and it will likely make someone else smile, too. Some of it actually makes me cry, because there are people in these photos who are no longer around. I wonder if I want to be reminded of any of it. I can’t tell if I’m grateful for the evidence of a past or burdened by it.
The world really has never been like this before. I’m out and about and I decide to take a photo because something about that moment is beautiful and I want to remember it, but I look at it later and I don’t feel any of those things and oftentimes I don’t even want to go through those images. Perhaps years later, but even years later they serve as a little on switch that lasts a few seconds, and then you move on. Otherwise, they can be useful as perhaps Instagram stories, but that too lasts seconds. It’s not enduring. Is enduring what we want?
I could lose everything I own today by accident and have no choice but to make peace with it and I’ll be fine. But having access to it is a reminder that there was indeed a time I moved through that came before today and it feels like a reassurance of something. But yet, when it comes to sifting through it all, I don’t even want to see most of it. When will I ever?
As you might be able to tell, the conundrum has not yet been solved. The analogy that comes to mind is the traffic that overcrowds certain mountain roads up north, and the split between the camp that wants to expand the road and the camp that doesn’t. There is evidence that expansion and altering those natural structures and slopes not only makes the area more susceptible to disasters like earthquakes, but also all it will do is invite more traffic, and then the road will ‘need’ expanding again. But that naturally cannot go on forever.
So yeah. Is Google the biggest chorr on the planet? Yes. Is ever-increasing storage space the answer (for me)? No. Is regular deletion the solution? Perhaps.
For now I shall empty out the harddrive that still works, and make prints of whatever feels special.