Preparing your digital life for Hurricane Florence
If you’re in the path of Hurricane Florence and you’ve been to grocery stores and gas stations, you’ve no doubt noticed a distinct lack of bread, water, and gasoline. Everyone is in a mad dash to gather supplies to weather out the storm and making plans for survival in case the severe flooding from Florence hits them, but far less are concerned with what happens to their digital lives if their computers get flooded or blown out by power spikes or problematic power generators.
Once your hard drive is dead, it’s dead for good, and you lose everything you have on it. Every time I have to explain to someone that their precious photos of a passed-away relative are gone because they didn’t have a backup, it affects me a little bit. I don’t want you to be a victim of data loss, so here’s a brief outline of what you need to do to secure your digital life against the fury of mother nature.
- If you don’t have a backup of your data at all, go get an external hard drive or big USB flash drive; any Walmart, office supply store, or technology store near you will have both for sale.
- Copy everything that is important on your computer to an external hard drive or big flash drive. If you have a Mac and a large external hard drive, use Time Machine to back up your entire Mac. For Windows users, use either Backup and Restore in the Control Panel or File History (usually under Settings – Update and Security) to back up your whole computer. Alternatively, just drag-and-drop everything that matters from Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, Videos, etc. to your external drive.
- Secure your external drive. If you have a relative or trusted friend that you can hand the drive to, do that. If their house or your house is flooded, your data stands a much better chance of survival than if you keep both your computer and your backup in the same place. If you have a water-tight storage box, put the backup drive in it.
- Use an online backup or storage service to back up the most important stuff you have. Dropbox, Box, OneDrive, iCloud, Carbonite, CrashPlan, a combination of these, or whatever else works for you. Some of these services offer small amounts of storage (usually around 500MB-5GB) for free, so take advantage of it to keep a copy of the most vital data “in the cloud” while you wait out the storm. If you lose both your main computer and your backup drive, you’ll still have what you upload to these services.
- Get your computers off the ground. If your house floods, a computer on a top shelf or stuffed in a high cabinet stands a better chance of survival. If you can lock your computer in a water-tight box or even just a plastic storage container with an overlapping lid, do so. If your roof leaks and your house floods, the elevated position and the plastic container will prevent water from getting at your computer from both sides…plus, if the flooding is high enough, it might even float!
- Charge up all of your phones, turn them off, and put them in strong plastic storage bags such as freezer bags. If you lose power for two weeks or have to combat water, you’ll be happy you did this. Phones are sometimes still usable through the plastic storage bag.
I hope that all of you reading this stay safe and make it through the storm. If I can do anything to help you, please let me know. Best wishes and good luck!
Jody at Tritech Computers