Protecting Your Digital Life

Feb 15, 2009

These days, people store themselves on their hard drives: Photos, music library, financial & tax info, address book, etc. – essentially, it’s your digital life. And as valuable as your digital life is, more and more people are losing their digital life and digital memories. I cannot emphasize how painful it is to watch someone realize their last five years’ worth of family photos no longer exists.

Some people actually do back up their digital life…however, once it is backed up to DVD, thumb-drive or hard drive; they store it in the desk drawer. At that time, they’ve protected their digital life from hard drive failure, but they haven’t protected themselves from flood, fire or tornado.

I suggest you implement a two-step plan for digital life insurance (automatic offsite backup & a local copy). First, create an account with Carbonite for $49.95 per year. Carbonite installs a small program that runs in the background on your computer and constantly checks your designated Documents folder for new data. Whenever it finds some newly stored information about your digital life, it grabs your data, securely encrypts and stores it for you out on the Internet (my Digital Life backup is currently at 15 Gigabytes). Carbonite also does a good job of only using your Internet connection when you aren’t so it doesn’t get in your way.

My second-suggested-digital-life-protection-step is to go online and buy a 64, 32, 16 or 8 GByte Flash Drive for somewhere between $18 and $150 depending on size. Before you go to bed one evening, plug in your thumb (flash) drive, then drag-n-drop your Documents folder to that drive (if you bought a smaller drive, you might need to just select your pictures folder or your music folder).

There, now you have a local copy of your data and an off-site copy of your data. Your digital life and digital memories are protected from disaster.

  1. Heather

    Thanks for this one, Brian. I signed up for their 2 yr plan. Now I won’t run to grab my flash drives every time we have a tornado warning! :)

  2. Jim Hale

    I’ve also found the little 320G Seagate Free Agent drives from Office Depot for $100 do wonders and fit into, pretty much, any size safe or can be taken offsite as well. A little bigger than a thumb-drive – but more capacity. :)

    1. Brian Becker

      Yes, Jim, I agree. And have a similar device I bought from Office Depot a few years ago. However, the heat inside a safe during a house fire can melt the plates of a hard drive, so don’t store your data in a safe that is in the same location as your computer.

      For that matter, our company provides a “back your computer up” service. We put all your data on either a 15Gig or an 80Gig hard drive, seal it in a box for you to store somewhere for $34.95 or $49.95, respectively.