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This weekend I had to reformat my laptop after some sort of critical software screw up essentially made it impossible for it to boot up successfully the whole way. Invariably on every start something would go wrong and I would get the once ubiquitous, now thankfully less, Blue Screen of Death; whereby Windows told you in a rather incomprehensible way why a component had failed you at a critical point. With no way to get into recover my files I had no choice but to go for a rough and ready format and accept the loss of my files.

In the few days after, as things have been slotted back into place and I reinstall all the software that made my computer work in the way that I wanted it to I’ve found myself missing some files that I really didn’t put much thought into at the time. Google has backed up my emails, and my blog posts are all still alive on the net somewhere, so while the loss of my copies is regrettable it’s not like I’ve lost access to that content for eternity.The files that I miss are the conversation history files from MSN. I had conversation histories from the ICQ days which is like 1999 onwards and Trillian logs from 2001 onwards when I made the switch.

Now as a personal perversion I’m a big fan of keeping archives of my conversations and emails so the loss of these was something that I found quite sad. I still have some of my conversations that I had with Craig and Mubaraka in 2000 and thereafter, and as a record of my history I don’t have a better source. Our conversations on MSN were sometimes rather epic and even when they were more benign they recorded what we did with our days, what we talked about and what we planned to do with our remaining hours. They reminded me what I had done in those times. With no other method of preserving my daily actions for posterity then these archives functioned as my diary, my record and my portal to memories that I would not otherwise remember. They’re the only contemporary record of times that were some of the best that I had with the best people it has ever been my fortune to have stumbled across.

Recently there have been a few conversations that have exceptionally worth retaining and rereading for their general tenor and audacity. While I took that opportunity only once, I would have loved to give them a second reading to extract as much information as I could from conversations that were operating at more levels then I was able to extract at the time.They have a special quality that made them enjoyable and also that made them worth retaining. In many ways it’s the modern successor to those conversations with Craig and Mubaraka that were so delightful and I feel equally they might be definitional of an interesting time in life again. The period of now is always interesting in that sense, especially when you get a chance to review them later.

I suppose the end result is a salutary lecture in the virtues of backing up, and keeping alternate copies of those things that are important. But the time for lessons learned is a little distant. While I know that it lives inside me and that friendships are current as well as historic, sometimes the history can be as beautiful and worth fighting for as the past – and that I feel the loss of now.



    • GDH
    • Posted December 21, 2006 at 4:18 am
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    You should download Recover My Files from

    Run a “Complete Format Recover” search of your laptop hard drive letter and search for the default selected file types.

    This program can find your old files, the only things you will have lost are those which have been overwritten by the installation of new software. In most cases like this you should get at least 80% of your deleted data back.

    Run Recover My Files in evaluation mode. In the search results screen click on the files found to preview their content. Depending on the results you can then elect to purchase an activatioin key which will allow you to save the recovered files.

    • md
    • Posted December 21, 2006 at 9:23 am
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    losing stuff always sucks. i’m amazed that you kept chat conversation histories though. i remember the first time the window popped up asking me if i wanted to save my conversation, i was so confused. for what possible reason could i want a record of such conversations? it would be as strange as recording my phone conversations. plus, chat has always been somewhat unreal to me, elusive, transient. such conversations are fun, but i would never think of them as a record of my history 🙂

    • Dom
    • Posted December 30, 2006 at 4:01 pm
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    Funny. I have also been keeping my MSN conversations since the beginning. They are useful for finding that address or phone number someone sent me via MSN. There was only one occasion that I really read a part of a previous conversation, and now I’m wondering if I should continue archiving these moments of history. So, do you actually read those conversations?

    Also, sometimes I use MSN on another computer and most likely those conversations were not backed up. So even without a system crash you lose some of the history.

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