It is hurricane season in the United States (until November 30th!), and while most of us think about things like batteries, canned foods, and drinking water, we don’t give a lot of thought to preparing our technology and gadgets for a potentially devastating storm. Here are some basic tips to help keep your sanity and your data together!
1. Move electronics to a safe room off the ground and away from windows.
This sounds like pretty basic advice, but you might be surprised by how many people never even think about it, especially if they have decided to hunker down and play on their devices while riding out the storm. Storm Sense 101 tells us to unplug all electronics from the wall and disconnect Ethernet cables from computers and docking stations. You should also put small electronics in sealed plastic bags if they do not have waterproof cases.
2. Keep electronics unplugged until after a storm has passed and power has stabilized.
Power surges can be damaging to your electronics, and this damage may be difficult or impossible to repair. You may think having your computer on a surge protector is enough, but it really isn’t. Many people aren’t even using the proper type of protector for their devices.
3. Create digital copies of important family documents, such as birth certificates and tax returns.
In case of a flood, you may end up losing these documents and it can take days/weeks to get replacement copies. While the digital copies aren’t official, they can still be useful when filing insurance claims, seeking medical attention, or a variety of other situations that may arise after a storm.
4. Backup important data either to an external hard drive that you can take with you OR to an online service, such as Apple iCloud, Dropbox, etc.
In case of evacuation, you can grab your external hard drive and throw it into your bug-out bag easily. You can also upload your important information to one of the cloud services like iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, or Microsoft OneDrive. This ensures that it is backed up somewhere in case disaster strikes. Make sure you choose a service with enough storage space to hold all of your information.
This includes backing up all your online photo collections! If you are an Amazon Prime member, you can upload an unlimited amount of photo files for FREE as part of the subscription service. The following formats are included in that unlimited storage: JPEG, BMP, PNG, GIF, and most TIFF, HEIF, HEVC, and RAW file formats.
If you use Apple iOS or macOS, you can upload photos to iCloud Photo Library in full resolution; but you may need to pay to upgrade your iCloud storage.
If you use Google Android or Chrome OS, you can upload unlimited photos to Google Photos for free—up to 16 megapixels in resolution.
If you use Microsoft Windows, you can upload photos to OneDrive in full resolution; but you may need to pay to upgrade your OneDrive storage. If you are already an Office 365 Personal or Home subscriber, 1TB of storage is included as part of your subscription.
(Note: Because of upload speed limitations from your Internet Service Provider, very large photo collections can take up to several days to upload.)
5. Make a list of device model names and serial numbers in case of evacuation for insurance and tax purposes.
This is also just good advice in general. You never know when a storm, failed equipment, or break-in could claim the life of your electronics. Make sure you also have this information somewhere other than your main computer, just in case it is the thing to die/disappear.
6. Keep device chargers nearby and ready in case of evacuation.
In addition to your wall chargers, consider purchasing a power bank to keep all of your devices charged in case of extended power outages.
7. Use your voicemail greeting on your smartphone as a means of keeping loved ones informed of your situation during a power outage or storm evacuation.
It is always hard to be out of touch with loved ones in times of crisis. This allows you to keep everyone up-to-date, even if you don’t have the ability to call.
These seven useful tips can help keep your data, electronics, and your sanity intact during a stressful situation.