Should You Save Your Important Preparedness Documents to “The Cloud”?
We have written in the past about creating a preparedness library of information you’ll want to have on hand to be safe in case of emergency. It might contain directions on how to make 25 different shelters from a tarp, the things you need have in a 72-hour survival kit, how to purify water and a copy of your birth certificate. The possibilities are endless, really; there are so many things we need to know to be safe, prepared and self-reliant. How do you keep it all easy to find and at your disposal when you need it, especially if you are saving documents to the cloud?
Is Paper Old Fashioned?
I have been operating under the assumption that paper documents and books are the best way to go and that I will have all my resources available in my binder or box if I should need them. There is a problem with this though, if we have a fire or flood – my resource library could be gone. What do I do then? I could lose years of information – gone – in an instant.
I also have amassed a HUGH preparedness library by now, and if I’m not careful, it will take up a whole filing cabinet and book
shelf. This system will be impossible to move and can be messy, especially if I don’t do my filing promptly! It doesn’t fit with my goals to live with less clutter. During this natural de-clutter time at the beginning of the year, I’ve been thinking about whether there is still a place for my emergency preparedness binder and books. How can I be selective with what I keep around and what I chose to save to “the cloud”?
What Is the Cloud Anyway?
According to The Houston Chronicle, “Imagine a situation where, rather than running intensive applications like Photoshop or CAD programs on your personal computer, you upload your data to a computer in the cloud and it does all the heavy lifting and returns to you a finished product. We already see this with sites that will process your photos like Photoshop.com or provide you with an office suite that handles documents, spreadsheets, such as Google Docs.”
In the end, “The Cloud” is simply The Internet, and we use it every day.
Saving Your Documents to the Cloud May Seem to Be the Answer
If an 18-wheel truck ran over your laptop what would you do? In this article about cloud computing, they offer the opinion that if your documents are saved to the cloud, and your laptop is run over; all your data will safely be stored on the web and easy to access – anywhere in the world. I think they have a point and if my laptop died today I would be cooked. What is an indecisive girl to do?
“Cloud computing offers other benefits as well. Not too long ago, many of us worried about losing our documents, photos and files if something bad happened to our computers, like a virus or a hardware malfunction. Today, our data is migrating beyond the boundaries of our personal computers. Instead, we’re moving our data online into “the cloud.” If you upload your photos, store critical files online and use a web-based email service like Gmail or Yahoo! Mail, an 18-wheel truck could run over your laptop and all your data would still safely reside on the web, accessible from any Internet-connected computer, anywhere in the world.”
Is it Safe to Store Data in the Cloud?
You have to wonder if your files are safe if you store them in the cloud. Storing important documents that have your medical history or home finances, will cause you to be more concerned about keeping your data safe than you would, say, music files from CDs you’ve ripped. So, yes, it is safe to store your data, but you have to do your research and understand the limitations before doing any uploading. Here is a great article reviewing the Top 10 Cloud Storage Providers that can help you make the decision and another that will help you discover the Top 15 Cloud Storage Tips and Tasks you need to be successful.
And then there is the cautionary tale of Mat Honan, who had his online accounts hacked when he was 19-year old. He not only had his emails and documents erased but all the pictures of the first year of his daughter’s life. Ouch!
Honan offers two suggestions to save you from suffering the same nightmarish, unthinkable and sickening disappointment that he did. It is also completely avoidable if you are willing to regularly and intelligently back up your photos and documents.
1) Back up your photos and documents online, or “in the cloud,”
2) Buy an external hard drive
“That can be a bit of a chore, but let Honan’s tale act as your catalyst: Back up your photos right now, both online and to a hard drive. Go on. Back them up. Before your computer bursts into flame, your phone falls into the ocean, and your iPad snaps in half”. Back up your pictures, documents and all the information you need to function in an emergency so that you do not lose them forever, in case you are hacked or your device is stolen or is run over by a semi.
Saving Documents to the Cloud or Paper, You Decide?
After Hurricane Sandy, New York utilities restored power to at least 95 percent of customers 13 days after the peak number of outages were reported. New Jersey reached that same level in 11 days and West Virginia in 10 days.
- First, do you have a way to charge your smart phones and computers? If not, you’re a paper gal by default! As much as I love that Red Cross First Aid App, it’s not going to do me much good if I can’t charge my phone.
- You will need a copy (or originals) of your personal identification, in the case of evacuation. Birth certificates, social security card, drivers license – so, paper or cloud – do you trust your information to be “out there”?
- Preparedness knowledge. Can you purify water or give first-aid without looking in your books? Identify which information you can store in the cloud and which you need to have on hand if you are stuck at home for an extended period without power.
- Family Photos. Take Mat’s tale to heart – paper, cloud, and back-up, please!
- Financial and business documents – will you need these in an emergency? Paper or cloud?
A week or two without power is, without question, a difficult and frustrating hardship. There’s the spoiled food in the fridge and the dark nights. There’s the fire danger from relying on candles. No electricity can also mean no heat. For those who rely on mobile phones for communication, it means no way to charge phones – and therefore no way to communicate with loved ones or emergency services, and there’s no way to access your emergency preparedness information without power.
So I’m going to make plans to have access to my data during a power outage by having a way to charge my devices AND have on hand the information I will need in case we have no power for two weeks. THEN, I’m going to back up my files, eBooks and other important documents and pictures to an external hard drive. I’m also going to re-evaluate the personal data kept in my evacuation box (this box has everything that I would take with me if there are only a few minutes to leave my home) and see what I can move to the cloud.