Why back up your important and irreplaceable files? The answer's in the question: they're important and irreplaceable. You see it in the news every week: houses & lives destroyed by natural disasters, accidents, and other events outside of our control. Being in the Foreign Service, we not only have to contend with possible evacuations as well as being under a maximum weight for shipping our household effects halfway around the world every couple of years.
|"On the plus side, now there are no files left to back up."|
Philip and Karen Smith/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images
- Primary: These are your original documents. Keep them in a fireproof safe and/or on your computer.
- Alternate: These are copies of the originals that you don't keep next to your originals (because that's like keeping all your eggs in one basket). Consider keeping a copy of really important papers (Birth Certificates/IDs/etc) at a relative's house and photos on a removable harddrive or spouse's computer in case you drop your laptop.
- Contingency: Let's say you kept both your primary and alternate files are in your house and it caught fire or flooded. I keep electronic copies (scanned if they were originally hardcopy) in the cloud (Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, DropBox, etc.) Compare the best cloud services here. There are also several photo storage options on the cloud, but know what their download/recovery policy is. For example: You have to pay Shutterfly to get them back (but it's totally worth it if they have your only remaining copy of the photos).
- Emergency: This is less about having a filing system and more about having access to your info if all else fails. What if your Apple account gets hacked? I recommend using an independent, alternate cloud system (ie, if you use Apple as a primary, use DropBox but don't use your AppleID email as your log in...because you would no longer have access to your Apple account). Also, I've found that emailing myself the scanned copy of files allows me to keep one record in the email as well as wherever I downloaded it...this has come in handy a number of times when the only access I have is to my email and the information was needed ASAP.