AUBURN, Ala.–When disasters strike, individuals and businesses all too often lose important computer files. You can replace equipment, but data may be lost forever. It is important to back up your data and store it someplace besides your home or business. This will reduce stress after a disaster and enable a quicker return to normalcy.
Where to Back Up
You can use external hard drives or storage devices to save duplicate copies of important files, documents and photos. If you are using external hard drives or removable media such as thumb drives, CDs or DVDs, consider making a duplicate set and sending one to a friend or family member who live far enough away that the same weather event is not likely to impact both of you.
Cloud storage is an increasingly popular option, especially for larger files. When data is stored in the cloud, it is stored remotely and is available to users over the Internet. Cloud storage is available through websites such as www.dropbox.com or www.google.com/drive. One advantage of a cloud storage system is that you can retrieve your data from any location that has Internet access.
Read the terms of service for the cloud storage system you use. Understand who owns that data once it is posted to the company’s server and how data will be handled if the company goes out of business or if something happens to you.
One of the quickest, simplest methods to protect important documents or photos is to e-mail files to yourself as soon as they become irreplaceable.
Another option is to take a photograph of important documents (insurance, banking, personal) with your cell phone, allowing you to access them rapidly when needed.
Charge It Up
Charge laptops, tablets, cell phones and cameras before the electricity goes out.
If there is time to evacuate personal belongings during an emergency, take backup devices, laptops, tablets or desktop computers. Be sure to take digital cameras and all equipment chargers as well.
Monitors, keyboards and mice are easier to replace and can be left for last. Put equipment too large to take with you in a heavy-duty plastic bag. Secure the bag tightly. Place it on a table or some other higher location. Do not leave them on the floor. Floodwaters after a hurricane generally cause the most damage to electronics.
Take paper out of printers. Unplug everything from power before you leave the building.
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