Digital Backup: No More Excuses

A recent article in the Chicago Tribune discussed how the Obama Presidential Library would be used for forums, workshops, and programs. “Where’s the papers?” one reasonably asks? Well, the papers will be online, because everything (almost) is digital.

If you don’t have a digital backup plan in place for your business and personal papers (digital records) then you might be tempting the universe to break your computer, and I hope you don’t live in an area prone to natural disasters. If you’ve never implemented a digital backup plan for your digital records it can be overwhelming to vet an appropriate system, determine how much digital storage space you need, create a digital infrastructure for your digital file system, and set an appropriate backup mechanism. But don’t worry – I’m here to help. First, you need to choose a system, and I have two recommendations for you that can scale to your needs and are easy to implement: Google Drive and Dropbox. (No, I’ve not been paid to endorse them. And yes, I use them both for my business and personal records). Help on determining storage space needs, how to set up a digital infrastructure, and setting up a backup mechanism will be covered in later posts. But if you can’t wait, feel free to call or email me for help.

There are three attributes I consider “a must” when it comes to assessing a digital backup tool:

  1. Is there a free version with an option to scale up?
  2. Is there an option to automatically sync my digital records?
  3. Can I share my digital records with others?

1. Both Google Drive and Dropbox have free versions to get started with, and offer different scaling options you can grow into. Google Drive offers 15GB, with an option to buy more storage space. Dropbox will start with only 2GB, but offers more nuanced tool options (in addition to storage) for scaling up.

2. Google Drive and Dropbox both offer automatic synching and access to to your digital records across all of your devices (computer, phone, smart devices). If you’re active in creating digital records, and you could lose years of digital work and family mementos, then having an automatic synching tool is a necessity. Both tools also provide version recovery, and if you upgrade in Dropbox you have a longer window in which to use the version recovery tool. The ability to access these records on any device is a convenience, and one I heartily recommend if you’re on the go and rely on access to digital records while you’re frequently away from your computer.

3. While sharing may not be a top priority for your business or personal use, it is incredibly handy if you ever need to send a large file, collate multiple people’s input in one document, or want to share dozens of photo files from a great-Aunt’s photo collection with a large, extended family. Both Google Drive and Dropbox offer ways to share your files, and you can drill down to determine exactly what aspects of your work people can access and change.

If you’re a light, personal-use, digital record creator, then Google Drive is probably all you need. If you’re a heavy digital record creator, and like or need a nuanced approach to control tools regarding your files on a granular level, then I recommend investing in a higher-level Dropbox account – of which there are several levels.

If you have any questions on how to get started, please don’t hesitate to reach out and ask me questions. I provide a free 30 minute consult call, or you’re welcome to email me: [email protected].

Rachael Cristine

Image courtesy of Andrew Parnell, via Flickr’s Creative Commons (https://www.flickr.com/photos/andrewparnell/2742419882/), and follows the Creative Commons Attribution License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/. Image downloaded for use October 2017, and was not purposefully altered.

How to be Prepared for when a Natural Disaster Strikes – Save Your Family Treasures

The last few weeks have been full of deadly natural disasters across the United States. There was Hurricane Harvey, we’re bracing for Hurricane Irma, and my home state of Oregon is on fire.

When you listen to the accounts of devastation you hear the universal grief over loss of life, loss of home, and loss of family treasures. While loss of life isn’t always in our control, and loss of home can partially be recovered through insurance or other avenues, it’s the loss of family treasures that is perhaps the easiest to prevent and the hardest to recover. Now is a good time to prepare for when a natural disaster strikes, and below I provide suggestions and resources on how to do it.

The two most common disasters to prepare for are fire and water. In either scenario you will most likely need to evacuate your home. If you have the luxury of time to prepare for a disaster, you can use these tips to be ready for evacuation:

  • Purchase a waterproof and fireproof box for all important papers and keepsakes
  • Keep all important personal and financial information in one location for quick retrieval
  • Place heirloom jewelry in one pouch, or string on a necklace
  • Digitize important documents and photographs, store digital copies using a free cloud service such as Google Docs and Photo, or Dropbox
  • Predetermine which family heirlooms you will want to take with you (if possible), and place these items in one container or location
  • Keep items that you want to take with you to a minimal amount as you won’t know what your evacuation conditions are until the moment of disaster

In order to know what’s important to you, you may need to review and organize your family treasures. If you’re the family archivist or historian in charge, then this task is most likely left up to you. If you need help on where and how to get started, I can help. You can view my family history services via my website rachaelcristine.com. Or if you prefer to DIY, I recommend picking up Margot Note’s book, Creating Family Archives: How to Preserve Your Papers and Photographs.

For more information to help you prepare your family treasures for a natural disaster, please refer to the Society of American Archivists’ Disaster Planning Resources. For an app to have at the ready on your smart phone (and doesn’t require active wifi once installed) is the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works Emergency Response and Salvage App. For more resources to prepare for and recover family treasures from a natural disaster, please the Smithsonian Institution’s Response and Recovery Resources page.

For post-disaster recovery of family treasures involving water, please see this FEMA fact sheet for help salvaging water damaged items.

For post-disaster recovery of family treasures involving fire, please see this FEMA fact sheet for help salvaging fire damaged items.

If you have any questions on how to get started or how to recover, please don’t hesitate to reach out and ask me questions. I provide a free 30 minute consult call, or you’re welcome to email me: [email protected].

Be safe out there,

Rachael Cristine

Image courtesy of Don Graham, via Flickr’s Creative Commons (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/14524497920/), and follows the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/. Image downloaded for use September 2017, and was not purposefully altered.