Klaus Zimmermann's Corner

What has happened to basic computer knowledge?

$FAMILYMEMBER wrote to me this morning asking me if I could help with a backup of their files.

I wrote back: sure, what's the problem with the backup or the files?

$FAMILYMEMBER says they don't want to lose the files that have been accumulating in their phone. What if something happens / I lose the phone / it breaks or bricks / etc you know.

I say sure, that's good thinking. Now, do you have an external Hard Drive anywhere in your house? I remember there was one there. So yeah, plug that in your computer, plug your phone as well and copy your files from the phone to the drive. Finito!

They say aren't these external HDDs unreliable, and didn't we lose data in our older ones a time or two before? They ask should they really do that, isn't there a more reliable way?

I say ok well, as long as you properly eject after use, do not move it while it's on and spinning, and keep it powered off when not in use and safely store it somewhere, the risk of loss is actually quite small.

They say anyway, my backup strategy sounds too complicated for them to do.


They say yeah you know, this whole plugging in / plugging out and copying things from one device to the other sounds complicated. They ask how can they be sure they won't mess it up.


Note: $FAMILYMEMBER is in their early 30s who grew up doing the same computer tasks as me before Linux for things like schoolwork or gaming and browsing. They also use computers extensively at work daily so it's not a case of "dealing with Grandma here."

I ask if they've never copied something to a pendrive before (knowing very well the answer should be 'yes, I've done it before').

They say man give me a break: it's been ages since I've had to copy things off to a USB thing. These days I just send things via whatsapp to other people or email it to myself if I need to open them in another device.

They email their personal files to themselves even at home!

I am as shocked as I am frustrated at this point, so I tell $FAMILYMEMBER that clearly emailing thousands of these files to themselves is not a practical solution. So see, I've heard there are some solutions to back up your data to the...

dry gulp.

... cloud.

They are surprised: YOU MEAN TO SAY THERE'S AN APP FOR THAT???

I say, sheepishly admitting defeat: yes..?

They let out a huge sigh of relief: great to hear, this should be pretty easy to do then, right?

I end up sending them the mega.nz link.

So let me get this straight: copying files between two devices via USB through your own computer is too hard and unreliable, but:

Is the easy and safe alternative today?

a frustrated man in the computer

Boy, I knew that OS designers were trying to make things simpler for the end user. But this situation today has really hit me in the head about how much dumber the average user is getting about knowing how to use a computer.

Yeah, I know I could go on and elaborate more on this sad reality, but it's late at night here, and I just wanted to get this rant out of my chest right now.

But wow, how much lower can we go...

This post is number #28 of my #100DaysToOffload project. Follow my progress through Mastodon!

Last updated on 10/09/21