Well, not really. I should have greatly improved my computer's performance. Overtime I have amassed a grand collection of photographs, music, documents and what not. Slowly, my 40GB disk became full and as a result, my computer began to run slowly.
I couldn't maintain my computer - there wasn't enough free space to run defrag! Thank goodness for Web 2.0; computing in the cloud helped me maintain my effectiveness with my laggard computer. Thank goodness for cheap memory (I got a 2GB SanDisk U3 flash drive at Radio Shack for $25 on sale); I've been been running Portable Apps off of it (on mine and my daughter's PCs) to keep me going.
The final straw broke a few days ago. I was taking my son to swim practice and was planning on working bedouin-style at the library and the aquatic center. Just like any other day, I hibernated mmy computer and threw it in my messenger bag. When I got to the library, it wouldn't start. I started to wonder - my photos, my music, my financial records, my work - would it all be there? I placed an after-hours call to our helpdesk - my message did include the phrase, "I'm beginning to panic."
My son and I went on to swim practice and I sat in the bleachers. Sad, now not planning on working, I was only hoping that my hard disk hadn't failed and that my stuff would be recoverable. I got a call back from our helpdesk and it was my friend Ken. He recommended I take out the battery and plug it in and restart it - I had already tried that. But as it is with many techincal problems, when repeating a problem with technical support, the problem is solved (probably just by tech support's presence). My computer started. I resolved that I would move my pictures to another disk and ensure that there was free disk space for my laptop to function well.
When I got home that night, there was only 1.5 MB of free disk space. I knew I had to move those pictures.
I used (note the past tense) Adobe Photo Album to organize my photos. I really liked the fact that I could tag my photos for ease of searching. After tagging some 6,000 photos taken over the course of many years, I learned that the tags weren't saved with the files - they lived in the application it self. My photos weren't all that backup-able without tags.
Some Google searches revealed that Photoshop Elements 4.0 had thee functionality to write existing tags to the file and in the future would save the tags to the file themselves. Google searches revealed that other products, namely Picasa, would also save the tags to the file. Picasa is a free Google product which appeals to me. I decided I would switch.
I used Elements to convert my tags and then exported them to my iPod. I actually had to install some of Elements on a flash drive I had so little space! I then deleted my catalog, Elements and Photo Album from my computer. This freed up 10 GB of disk space. I now have enough room to defrag my hard disk. My computer should be back to its good old self.
All my photos are backed up now and easy to put where ever I want them!