Friday, April 22, 2011

Tsunami 's, Hurricane's, Tornadoes and your data

    Are you prepared to deal if you don't have access to your computer ? I thought I was, but two weeks ago a tornado basically touched down in my front yard. We were lucky, the only trees I had down did not hit my house or cars. However many of my neighbor's were not so lucky. You think you'll have time to do something, to grab things. You don't. No one thought that we would have a tornado, just a bad storm. My fiancee and I were getting ready for bed when we heard the wind pick up a bit, so we walked to the front door to look. Seconds later we saw branches bouncing off our cars and both turned  and said "Basement!"  I opened the basement door next to us, and we began to run down the stairs. We only made it 1/2 down before the lights blew out. We just dropped and held each other sitting on the stairs, covering each others heads as the wind whipped around us and we heard the trees breaking. 

    Let's just be honest, I'm crying as I write this thinking how lucky we are and how I could have lost my family, friends or neighbors. For the next few days I just went around trying to help open up the 200+ miles of road that crisscross and wind their way though my community. I saw hundreds of power poles snapped like twigs and just as many damaged houses. We were very lucky to have no fatalities. I was without power for almost five days and part of my road is still inaccessible by car.

     Ok, enough of the sad stuff for a bit. I of course have external hard drives and flash drives and such, but all are in my home. The tornado very easily could have destroyed all of it which, while I would be happy to be alive, would have been difficult to replace. My parents live across town so I thought giving them a few important flash drives to put in their safe, would be a good idea.
   Later I began thinking about the stories I'd heard about involving data loss and Hurricane Katrina. Some New Orleans based companies did not have backups at a separate location. The ones that did were very lucky you would think. However, several of these had  unfortunately chosen Biloxi, which while 100 miles away, was also destroyed. Quite a few companies were unable to recover afterwards and went bankrupt. I wonder how Japan's data is doing after the tsunami and nuclear issues ?

   As an individual, it certainly isn't practical for me to have backups hundreds of miles away, but what about online ?  Amazon's offers a free online storage called Cloud that allows you to store up to 5 gig for free. Other companies do offer free storage online as well, like FlipDrive, but Cloud is the most widely used. This CNN money video is quite informative and interesting in describing what you can do with Cloud.

   Granted "The Cloud" is cool but there are some things to remember. Like the fact that they can access your data to make sure you have not violated their terms or conditions and they will give access to law enforcement agency's if asked. So that picture of you and Bernard Madoff surrounded by cash should probably go elsewhere. While Cloud is known to be very secure and normally have no issues, I'd be remiss if I did not mention that hordes of people who were up in arms about it being down recently for several days.
    The most important thing to remember, is that you are responsible for the security of things you put on Cloud. If a hacker gets in and grabs your data, its security is up to you. How do you go about doing that? I personally use a free cryptography program called TrueCrypt to keep my data safe and secure. Unless something changes, I plan on doing a blog on what cryptography is and how to use TrueCrypt soon. So if you want to go ahead and download it you'll be ahead of the game. As always, remember to share the knowledge so that we can make others aware.

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