The recent bushfires in New South Wales have been tragic to watch unfold, although, at the time of writing there thankfully hasn’t been any loss of life. What has been lost are a number of properties, and in the age in which we live, that’ll include an amount of IT gear, because technology is such a core part of how we all live.
Before you read any further, however, I’d strongly encourage you to donate to the excellent work done by the RFS and associated agencies. You can donate online here, and a number of prominent businesses such as supermarkets are also accepting donations in-store.
If you live in an area with the potential to be struck by bush fires — or in fact, any kind of natural disaster, which pretty much means any part of Australia at all — it’s wise to have a survival plan. Again, that should not be viewed as an optional thing; here’s a link to the RFS bushfire plan for example: Bush Fire Survival Plan. You are much more important than your goods, because they can be replaced. You can’t.
Losing everything in a bushfire or other natural disaster is devastating, but insurance should cover any obvious IT losses — except for your own documents. You may get a computer back after a fire, but it’ll be a blank slate, which means whether you store business documents or personal photos on there, they’ll be gone.
That doesn’t have to be the case. In this digital age there are a lot of precautions you can take to minimise that loss when it comes to personal documents.
Most emergency guides will suggest that you take important printed documents with you, and that’s still wise, but if all your photos are digital and your insurance company will email you documents, or you can spend a little time scanning them into your computer, there’s no reason not to have a safe and secure backup online as well.
The advantage of this approach is that if you do have to evacuate in a hurry, you’ve already got those documents available even if you can’t grab a hard drive, DVD-ROM or physical photo album in time.
Personal documents aside, it may also help in the aftermath with any insurance claims if you can show evidence of those documents in an online format, because as long as you can get some kind of computer access, you should be able to access documents in an online repository. For financial information, or any information that could be used for identity theft it would be wise to encrypt it beforehand.
This kind of online backup, along with local backup that you can get to quickly is good general practise in any case, because if you do suffer a more everyday IT failure, be it a dead hard drive, sudden power surge or operating system corruption, your own data is still safe and secure.