Digital hoarding habit catching up

I feel like it is time for me to attend a meeting. So here I am, standing up from a school gymnasium chair, pushing the chair slightly backwards out of the circle and saying: “Hi, I’m Nadine and I have a hoarding problem.” I’m sure the response would be: “Hi Nadine,” and then I would continue and explain my affliction/vice. Luckily for me, and for my kids in a few decades, I do not hoard physical things. My problem is not being able to delete electronic files. I am a digital hoarder.

Perhaps you find yourself in this predicament? Here’s what it looks like:

After maxing out the storage on my cell phone with the number of photos I’d taken, I was forced to spend hours trying to decide which photos to delete and which photos to keep. I probably already had all of these photos on my laptop as well, but I was finding it difficult to delete the ones on my telephone. Why? I scroll through them to remember the happy times, and I don’t want to delete memories.

Solution? Mine was two-pronged. First I bought a larger SD memory card to put into my phone. Then, I went through and deleted all of the videos, eliminating a large part of the problem. Then, I rationed myself to a maximum of five photos per event on my phone for future viewing.

I then somehow deleted a whole month worth of photos and videos from when I first got my kitten … aaaargh! This stopped me in my tracks and made me want to never try to purge data again, but I just had to slow down and make sure that data was copied to another source first. The culling continued, until my cellphone had enough free memory  to function normally.

Adding insult to injury, Gmail began informing me that I am “running low on storage space” and that I can either delete stuff or purchase additional storage. I don’t dispose of emails other than spam, because I either want to save precious words or keep a record of things said. At first that yellow warning at the top of the screen was concerning, but I learned to live with it, like an irritating skin tag.

I ignored the yellow warning until I seemed to be stopped from sending or saving larger files. Answer? I clicked on the no-cost, free-up storage space option and it suggested using the search string: “has:attachment larger:10m” in Gmail to find and delete large files.

There were over 100 messages with over 10 megabytes in attachments, so I upped the search criteria to 20 megabytes: reviewed and deleted those files, then reran the search criteria with 15m, then 12m. I wasn’t sure how to know how much storage space I had, but clicking on the “purchase additional storage” link gave me the answer. I had successfully deleted enough files to get me under the free limit of 15 gigabytes. Reading further, I was being offered 100gigabytesfor $2.79 a month, which giving the cost effectiveness, and my propensity to keep everything, I will likely trigger in the future, and not bother trying to delete files again.

When it rains it pours, and not surprisingly, my laptop memory was also exceeded. This wasn’t a shock, because my laptop is several years old (… that and I don’t delete stuff). Buying a new laptop with more memory would solve more than one of my problems, but converting machines taxes me. The easier choice was to buy an external hard drive, so that I didn’t have to review all of my files on my computer, nor move to “the cloud,” (though, it would be handy to have my files accessible to me online no matter where I was, allowing me to travel without my laptop).

I don’t know if I’m the only one in the DHA (digital hoarders anonymous) group, keeping every text, email, message, file, and photo. If there are others out there, please let me know what your 12-step program involves. Send me an email or text… and I’ll probably keep it forever.

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