The Oldest File on Your Desktop

By Jeffrey Layton

I'm not sure how many people have heard of the "way-back machine," but it is been called an Internet time capsule. It allows you to find old web sites that have been archived. I recently used this tool to look at some really old stuff I wrote when I was still a professor.

The use of this tool prompted me to think about several things. First, I started thinking about how old the data on our systems is.

I have a relatively old desktop that I have used for years and still love to death. It's 32-bit and single-core, but it hasn't let me down in almost six years of continual use. I'm running CentOS 5.5 on it, and it installed like a champ (pretty good that it could handle six-year-old hardware). As I upgrade operating systems on this system, I copy my data to another storage media, upgrade the desktop and then restore the data. I've been doing this for quite some time, so I became very curious what my oldest file was. So I did a spelunking on my own system. I found one file from 1992 which was actually created on an old Sun workstation. I haven't touched that file in 20 years, yet it is still on my system.

Having a file this old brought up a question in my mind--if I haven't touched that file in 20 years, why is it still on my system? The question that follows that is, "how can I archive the file if I need do?" (answering these questions is the subject of another aticle or two).

Have some fun--look for the oldest file on your desktop. I think you'll be surprised.

This article was originally published on September 15, 2011