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Files are forever

Recently, a friend sent me a link to a review of a new application, Evernote. The author, writing in the Wall Street Journal, described Evernote as “a digital file cabinet you can bring with you anywhere”. I got hooked. I’ve been trying to cobble together a makeshift version of the same service for at least 10 years.

india Updated: Jan 30, 2010 23:51 IST
Anika Gupta

Recently, a friend sent me a link to a review of a new application, Evernote. The author, writing in the Wall Street Journal, described Evernote as “a digital file cabinet you can bring with you anywhere”. I got hooked. I’ve been trying to cobble together a makeshift version of the same service for at least 10 years.

I was an early adopter of digitisation. While other girls kept locked journals, my teenage diary entries were password-protected MS Word files. I became obsessed with the idea of an online hard drive the first time when I turned 15. My computer had gone into sleep mode and never woke up. All my files were gone. I’d suffered losses before — forgotten coats, death of pets — but I can safely say that of all of them, the loss of my files was the worst.

So I began my first experiment with online storage, of emailing myself all my documents, usually as attachments and often with short messages like “Hi Anika! I’m Anika, too!”

There were benefits: my files were always available. If I was trapped late at school, I could duck

into the library and pick up an essay where I’d left off at home the night before. If I was studying for a test at a friend’s house, I could pull up the notes I’d typed out while studying days ago.

But my files began to multiply faster than my inbox’s memory when I got a digital camera, a mobile phone, a digital music player, a new mobile phone with a built-in camera and finally a newer, fancier camera.

The pieces of my life — memories as photos, important documents saved as PDFs, story ideas in the form of Tweets — went straight to hard disk. I experimented with various ways to store all these files online. Although I bought Microsoft Office, I also signed up for a bootleg online version, which came with the added benefit of storing all my files on a central server somewhere far away. The storage was okay, but the pirated versions translated all my files into Greek.

I tried Google Docs and Picasa. The programs stored my documents and photos, but I couldn’t find a way to save them in the same folder. There were some great online applications, but many of them were made only for Mac computers. Anyway, too many of these applications appeared and then vanished, not maintained by their brilliant college student creators.

Whether Evernote will be the solution, I can’t say yet. The free program has got a lot of positive press, and it offers a paying version, which suggests it might be around for a while. The software offers some unique features: it’ll collect photos of business cards taken by mobile phone and make the text on those cards searchable (never lose track of a contact again). And it’s available across computers, Black Berrys, phones, etc. If it works, it’ll bring me one step closer to that tantalising future, in which I can access any file, any time, anywhere.