Don’t Know What You Got Til It’s Gone

Tom Keifer started the band Cinderella back in 1982.

A gifted musician, he sang and played rhythm & lead guitars, keyboards, piano, mandolin, Dobro, and harmonica.  Wow.

He was also a stellar dresser – that is, if you liked how lead singers back then dressed (see below).


Hmm. Yeah.

Anyway –  Keifer is most famous for immortalizing the expression, “Don’t Know What You Got, Til It’s Gone,” in the incredible power-ballad of the same name (Play it here).  Be warned, you could start to feel those adolescent heart strings get tugged again… sigh.

OK, so what is my point?

At a Christmas party, I was just describing to a friend what I do for my home files.

  1. Everything is put on the networked hard drive.
  2. The main computer with the networked hard drive runs Mozy every night.
  3. Once or twice a month (depending on my “creation” activity) I sync up the drive with another of the same size.
  4. I usually keep this secondary copy at work.

Matt, who works at a Boston-based videogame company, isn’t a storage geek.  Which explained the blank stare I had from him after my description.


Then I told him why I did this.

  • First, I’ve been collecting music for a long time.  I have a lot of GB’s of MP3s (ripped at 192 Mbps).
  • Second, I have lots of photos – and ones that are very important to me.  Wedding, babies, honeymoon, vacations, travel, etc.
  • Third, I keep a lot of videos – I love editing video and have done it for my family and others in my free time.

He kinda nodded his head.  He had to mention that he had more music than me…  and some important graphics files.  He still thought I was being too paranoid and that he didn’t have a backup yet.

And then I told him about my near-disaster.

Back in 2005, I had an external hard drive totally seize up on me.  I tried various programs and techniques for basic data recovery – but the drive wouldn’t even spin up.  Ugh.   Each minute, hour, and day that past without the hard drive, seemed like a missing void in my life that I would never get back.

Don’t know what you got till it’s gone
Don’t know what it is I did so wrong
Now I know what I got
It’s just this song
And it ain’t easy to get back
Takes so long

So I farmed out the data recovery.  Dropped it off and then a couple days later, I got the call from Techfusion in Cambridge.  They had all my data intact, sitting there right in front of them… but the estimate was $2500!!

I complained and complained how ridiculous that price was for a non-commercial customer and asked to talk to the manager and tried anything I could muster. I finally worked out a deal with the company to reduce the price a bit, by offering to be quoted under their happy customers page. Sure I said.  And then he basically wrote me a quote about how I relied on them and how fast and good their service was… OK fine.

The real lesson I learned was that data recovery costs WAY more than a reasonable backup and DR plan combined!

Skeptic friend Matt got the point after the story.  Tom Keifer got the point and wrote a song about it.  I got the point and protected my data using a two tiered strategy: 1) a drive based data copy over USB 2.0 and 2) a networked based copy over my cable connection.

If you haven’t been in a dataloss depression before, I don’t recommend going through it.  Instead, I recommend coming up with a DR strategy for your personal data. And while your at it, consider a DR plan for your company’s most important data.

Learn from Tom Keifer – you’ll miss your data when the drive/server/site dies.


6 thoughts on “Don’t Know What You Got Til It’s Gone

  1. Lisa R

    Dude. “Don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone” is Joni Mitchell in Big Yellow Taxi. You youngsters! 🙂

    1. Brian Post author

      Lisa, how the hell are ya?! Thanks for stopping by!

      OK, as I was writing I was searching to find the true “originator” of the phrase without luck. Thanks for setting me straight!

      However, you will notice my wording was somewhat careful… “Keifer is most famous for immortalizing the expression” not inventing it. Like Thomas Edison immortalized the lightbulb although a guy named Joseph Swan invented it 25 years before.

      I am saying that perhaps it was the band Cinderella (and Keifer) that did so for this expression. Or maybe I’m just trying to dig myself out of Gypsy Road. 🙂

  2. Pingback: How important will storage education be in 2009? | Adventures in Corporate Education

  3. Dave Spencer

    My mother-in-law is not a “computer person” but she is a very productive photographer. She recently had her entire PC wiped due to a supposed virus (I have my doubts) and lost several months’ worth of pictures (she does backups to CD every few months), including all the ones she had taken of my daughter since her birth in June.

    As soon as the PC got back up and running, I installed Mozy on it.

    You will eventually suffer a hardware or software failure that kills some of your data. Whether you feel the impact or not totally depends on you.

  4. Bianca Dick

    Extremely wonderful entry, really educational stuff. Never believed I would obtain the facts I would like right here. I’ve been hunting throughout the internet for a while now and was starting to get irritated. Thankfully, I happened onto your site and got exactly what I was searching for.


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