Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What do you do when the Hurricane takes your Cloud away?

There's this little storm down in the Caribbean today.  They're expecting it to clip Haiti, not that they need any more damage.  Then to visit Cuba.  From there, Florida.   The link I check for storms is here,

They say that we are in The Cone of probability.  I've already seen a couple posts of friends online saying "We're Coned" and "Duck and Cover".  It could hit here, it could hit Tampa.  I'm hoping for Tampa.  Should put a nice dent in the right wing nutbag convention, sorry, Republican Convention if it hits there.

More importantly it's a time for us in Florida to take stock.  See if we've got food and water for a week plus.  I've got two weeks worth here and we're hitting the stores tonight.

On the other hand, we've all grown used to having our utilities being on all the time.  Power, Water, Sewage are normally there as well as phone service.  Internet less so.  One well placed storm could take most of that out anywhere. 

With this always on internet connection that we've grown used to, you find yourself stuck if you need something and the power is off.  Usually you can get to what you need, but that's the thing. If you are expected to have a "bug out bag" of things that are required in case your home is destroyed, has the internet services gotten robust enough to serve as an external hard drive?

Personally I think the answer is "maybe".  Great place to copy all those little files you keep on your hard drive "just in case".   Take photos of everything in the house and save it to a cloud drive like Dropbox or Windows Live SkyDrive, or one of the many others.  Scan your papers to either a picture or a PDF and do the same.

On the other hand, that's great but don't depend on it completely.   They aren't guaranteeing you what used to be called "Archive Storage".  If your one and only copy of your tax form from 2 years ago is on a cloud drive and you need it now, what do you do when your internet system won't be back for three weeks. 

My block was without power for that long after Hurricane Wilma.  I'm quite happy to have missed that storm, and it's completely possible for that sort of thing to happen again.

So as a part of "Hurricane Prep", I'll be doing some electronic triage.   If I can pare down my documents to Just The Essentials and it's a reasonable size, they're going to my Dropbox account.   I'll have them on the chip plus a second backup in the house.

As an ongoing thing, whenever you get a file that you must print that is online or just "on the computer", it's a good practice to print it to a PDF.  You can install a printer that does all the hard work for you.   Instead of wasting paper, you take up a few bytes of storage. 

You can grab a copy of the printer I use by going to and selecting the Cute PDF Writer.  That way even if your files are on the cloud that you can't get to, you'll be able to carry the box of the paper things you can't get rid of with your local copy of the forms on the chip.

Backups are just like the ad said about chips, You Can't Eat Just One.  Since I have only 1.3GB of things I can't lose, they'll get to the cloud even if I can't.

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