What I am talking about is mother nature, and she is pretty angry with us right now.
In the last few months Australia and New Zealand have seen massive floods in Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia, destructive cyclones hitting Queensland and Western Australia, ferocious bush fires in Western Australia and most recently, a massive earthquake in New Zealand.
The personal loss of life and of property have been shocking and tragic. Each of these events have reminded me how quickly everything we hold dear can be taken away in an instant... by an event over which you have no control.
Which leads me to storage clouds....
If something can be stored electronically, then it can be stored in a cloud. A cloud that is hopefully well backed up, and far away from your own personal location. And no this is not an advertisement... its a suggestion....
Given the events of the last few months, I have started using a storage cloud provider to protect my photos, my music and my insurance information.
I looked for cloud storage providers who:
- Offered a tool that when installed on my laptop/PC, automatically backs up the contents of selected folders. This means I don't have to remember to backup. It should happen automatically.
- Offered a way of accessing the backed up data from anywhere.
- Is reasonably priced.
I considered the following uses:
- Backup all my photos.
- Backup all my music.
- Digitize my insurance documents and back them up. Scan in all my receipts and some photos of the contents of each room of the house. That way if the house burns down... I have a base to work off.
- Scan in important documents that I could not easily replace.
Let me give you an example of a document I would never want to have to replace....
My son is practicing to get his drivers license. In Victoria you need 120 hours of driving experience recorded in a log book. This log book needs to be filled in every time he drives the car. If the log book is lost... those 120 hours would need to be driven again. I cannot tell you how hard it is to find 120 hours of driving opportunities (and I heartily support the 120 hours scheme!). Even if you did feel inclined to create fake entries to recreate the book (which is illegal), frankly creating 120 hours of fake driving log entires would be very hard work. To make things worse... where I am storing this booklet? In the car of course (which is the most convenient place to store it). So what happens if the car is stolen? There goes the logbook.... So the plan I work on is that every time a page is filled up, I scan that page as an image stored on my laptop. The image goes into a folder that is automatically backed up to the cloud. Yes it does depend on my being diligent, but the actual process of copying the file somewhere else is automatic. Now I have 3 copies... the original, the scanned image on my laptop and a third (automatically created) copy way off in the cloud somewhere.
As for personal recommendations:
1) Get 2 GB free on Dropbox. This is a great point solution and a great way to dip your toes in.
2) Get 1GB free on Google Docs. This is a great tool to share files with others.
3) Try 15 days free on Carbonite. These guys look like good value for money.
Have there been issues with storage cloud providers? A quick search reveals stories like: Flikr deleted a users data and Carbonite lost data due to hardware failure. Still... I have no plans to store my ONLY copy of data in the cloud. For me its a backup medium... not a primary storage location.
Are you convinced?
Are you already using the cloud?
Or are you thinking its too expensive or too insecure?
Better still, have you already been saved by the cloud?
Oh... and my son? He is on 89 driving hours... 31 to go....