75 Ways the Internet can Save You in the Event of a House Fire or Other Disaster

In the old days, the only way to protect your important documents, files, photos and other items in the event of a disaster was to invest in a heavy-duty safe. The only other somewhat reasonable option was to store the majority of those things away from the home, which wasn’t all that practical. The Internet has opened up many new and exciting ways to protect important information in the event of a hurricane, fire, tornado or flood. Below, you will find 75 ways in which you can harness the power of the Internet and modern technology to keep your most important items safe from harm.

Scanning

    1. Every time you receive a paper statement, scan a copy of it. Periodically upload those scanned copies to a secure online location.
    2. Scan important documents like birth certificates. In the event that the hard copies are destroyed, you will have quick and easy access to something that will suffice in many situations.
    3. Upload your driver’s license number, or scan a copy of your most recent driver’s license.
    4. Go through your old photos. Scan each one of them. If a fire or other disaster doesn’t get them, the ravages of time will. Keeping online copies is the best way to keep them from disappearing forever.
    5. Scan and keep copies of old letters that only exist on paper. They could go up in smoke if a fire blazed through your home and you would never be able to read them again.
    6. Try to scan all of your old journals. If this is too time-consuming, look into hiring a company to do the work for you. It may be worth your while.
    7. If you have old Polaroids lying around, make scans of them. Those scans can be uploaded to the Internet, where flames can’t lick at them and water can’t destroy them.

Online File Storage

    1. Back up your old emails, even if they are stored online already. Upload them to a secure file storing website.
    2. Periodically download files of your social media communications and upload them.
    3. Set your IM client to save logs of your chats. From time to time, make copies of those logs and upload them to the Internet. Don’t only store them on your computer, which could get destroyed.
    4. Try to save and document all of the chats that you engage in. They may seem unimportant now, but you will have fun looking through them in the future.
    5. Make backups of your online and in-real-life contacts. Upload the resulting file to an online file storage site.
    6. Pay for a Pro account on Flickr. Use the mass uploading feature to periodically pull your photos from your memory card to the Internet.
    7. If you don’t like Flickr, you could sign up for a Picasa account, which is linked with Google. You could always use both services too.
    8. Get into the habit of uploading your photos to Facebook. It is generally quick and easy to do. This gives you one more place to view your photos online.
    9. Use DropBox to store everything from videos and photos to important documents. Try the free trial to see if it will work for you.
    10. Upload copies of your favorite videos to YouTube. These should be videos that you have personally made. Don’t just keep copies on a camcorder or memory card.
    11. Save important files of all kinds on Box.net. You will always be able to access them no matter where you go.
    12. Make use of Google Documents, which is included for free with any Google account. You can access it through your Gmail interface.
    13. Give a program like Mozy a try. It can be downloaded online. It scans your hard drive and backs up the things that you ask it to. You receive 2GB of free storage to begin
    14. If you have school-aged children, check to see if their school offers online report cards and other info. Back up that data and store it elsewhere online.
    15. Set up an RSS feed for social media messages, blogs and other things that you’d like to keep track of.
    16. Use an online diary or journal. Some of them can be locked to keep prying eyes at bay.

Email

    1. Email a list of important phone numbers to yourself. It will give you another place to look if you end up losing a lot of paperwork due to a disaster.
    2. Copy yourself on all of the messages you send. You can BCC yourself so that your email doesn’t appear in the recipients field.
    3. Sign up for a Gmail account. A web-based email account is always available no matter where you are, which should come in handy if a fire or other disaster happens.
    4. Get into the habit of using Google Chat to communicate. It integrates with your Gmail account so that everything is in one convenient place.

Backing Up Files

    1. Make backup copies of all of the files that you save onto your PC. Do this every time so that you don’t fall behind.
    2. Invest in file backup software to simplify the process of backing up your important files online.
    3. Use a publicly visible file sharing site for files, photos and videos that don’t need to be kept private. Such sites are often free or very cheap to use.
    4. Designate an online location for things that everyone in the household may need. Make sure that everyone knows the username and password for the account.
    5. As you complete school assignments, back them up to the Internet. You never know when you may need them again, and they could come in handy during study sessions.
    6. Take the time to back up work assignments as they are completed. Don’t just store them on your PC or on a disc.
    7. Facebook has a feature that allows you to download your history. Do this from time to time and upload the file to a secure online location.
    8. Be careful not to interrupt or prematurely close an upload while it is in progress. If you do, important data could be lost.
    9. Every time you purchase new music, back it up online. Putting it onto hard discs simply isn’t good enough because they could be destroyed or lost.
    10. If you use iTunes, use the backup function from time to time. Once again, take the finished product and save it somewhere online.
    11. Use an online bookmark site so that you can always access a list of your favorite websites. After a disaster, you may need to be able to find some of those sites quickly.
    12. For especially important documents and files, save multiple copies online. You will have backups of your backups.
    13. Make sure to back up your phone or mobile device online every now and then. If your phone is destroyed, you need to get easy access to what was on it.
    14. Use an online calendar and sync it with your phone and other devices regularly. A paper calendar can be reduced to ashes.
    15. Back up your browser bookmarks periodically. Take the backup file and upload to an online file storage site.
    16. Create backup files of contacts from your email, phone and other places. Make sure to back up contact information from social networking sites too.
    17. If you use Twitter, find a program and use it to back up your tweets. Store it somewhere online where you can always access it when you need it.
    18. Export your LinkedIn contacts and back them up someplace online. If you store those contacts on your PC or laptop, they could vanish into thin air.
    19. Teach your kids how to back up important files. If they have their own computers, don’t forget to back up the data from them every now and then.
    20. Go through your cookbooks. Create a file on your computer with all of your favorite recipes. Back it up online.
    21. If you take class notes on your computer, save them and back them up online regularly. They will come in handy during late-night study sessions.
    22. Request and receive files that contain copies of your academic records. Store them on the Internet. If your diploma burns, you will still be able to prove you earned it quickly.
    23. If you have recordings on your PC, make copies of them and back them up online.
    24. Pay a company to create files of your old home videos and movies. Take the file and back it up on the Internet.
    25. Make sure that you can access backup copies of online games when you need to. Store access codes and other information somewhere online so that you can download them again if necessary.
    26. Store files that contain the serial numbers of important items somewhere on the Internet. They will especially come in handy in the wake of a disaster.
    27. Create online files that include all of your current insurance policy numbers. Make sure to include contact info for each insurance agency as well.

Don’ts

    1. Don’t rely on DVDs to store important data. They can be rendered useless or be completely destroyed during a disaster.
    2. CDs are not any better. Don’t fall for the false sense of security that comes with storing important files and documents onto CDs. The Internet is untouchable.
    3. Don’t forget to memorize at least a few important phone numbers. Although cell phones have eliminated the need to memorize them, they will come in handy if your phone is destroyed.
    4. Make sure that your loved ones know how to access your online information in the event of your death. Give them instructions for doing so and keep them with your will.
    5. Don’t put all of your trust into an external hard drive. They are useful, but they are vulnerable.
    6. Although you can take a laptop with you, you may not have enough time to do so. Don’t assume that your files are safe there.
    7. Smartphones are even more mobile, but you may be unable to grab yours when disaster strikes. Back yours up in case you can’t grab it.
    8. Don’t forget to sync your iPhone with iTunes on a regular basis. Even if it’s always right next to you, it might get left behind during a disaster.
    9. Don’t create a save items strictly on a tablet. If it is left behind, you will never be able to access those files again.
    10. Don’t substitute mobile devices for online storage. Fires and other disasters can’t destroy things that are stored on the Internet.

Financial Tips

    1. Use online banking and make sure that you have your username and password committed to memory. Memorize the log in URL as well.
    2. Never keep a great deal of cash in the home. If cash burns or is destroyed, it is gone for good. You can keep an eye on your cash flow through the Internet.
    3. Store your credit card number and financial account information on a secure online file.
    4. Scan a copy of a cancelled check and store it in a secure online location. If your checkbook burns, you won’t get burned too.
    5. Use a service like Mint.com to connect to your online financial accounts. It puts all of that information in one centralized place.

Computer Tips

    1. Keep your backup software up to date. If it is outdated, it may not function properly and your files may not be backed up when they are supposed to be.
    2. Update your computer on a regular basis. Backups will go more smoothly when you keep everything up to date.
    3. Don’t put off operating system updates. Your computer could become unstable, which could interrupt regularly scheduled backups. If that happens, things could slip through the cracks.
    4. Pay for a high-speed Internet connection. The extra expense is worth it when you are able to upload large files to the Internet quickly and easily.
    5. Delete old, unneeded files from your PC on a regular basis. That way, you won’t inadvertently backup unnecessary files, which will waste valuable online storage space.
    6. Defragment your computer’s hard drive on occasion to ensure that it stays in tiptop condition, which will facilitate smoother uploads and backups.

Your whole life doesn’t have to go up in smoke or get washed away during a disaster. With the preceding tips, you can be adequately prepared to face just about any disaster.

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