Hello, I'm Sig.  I develop cool things.

Minifying Life + Backups

Ya know, I was looking around today and starting to realize the fruits of some of my labours over the past couple of months.

If there were to be some disaster today, and I only had a few moments to grab my valueables, I would be very confident that all I need to do is grab my dog and maybe (big maybe) something like my wallet or cell phone.  I’ve been removing clutter of late and been trying to continually get down to the “bare essentials.”

So what does that actually mean?  More peace of mind than one might realize.

Many people dread losing items that have sentimental or intrinsic value — for me that would consist of pictures, gifts from family/friends, and items I tend to cary on my person or that otherwise identify myself (drivers license, credit card, phone, passport, birth certificate, etc).  The entire goal of planning for the worst is something of an optimization problem (there’s likely a mathematical proof or equation floating around for this already—if so, go read that). 

In this day and age, we have things like “cloud computing” that consumers can now take advantage of.  Being a person who loves the subscription economy we’ve dived into as consumers (more on this in another post), I’m totally biased to solutions that might cost a small dime, but provide great value over the course of their service.

The simplest solution to ensure that, given the worst disaster where your house burns down and you lose everything you own, how do you recover priceless memorabilia or family herlooms or photos/family videos?  The answer is: digitize that, damnit (DTD).  In using DTD, you can quickly realize just how little you may lose in the worst of events.  Further, it’s always worth noting the services you can utilize to ensure that should you lose everything you own, there’s a path to getting those items back.

Backing up your content online is the easiest means of ensuring data loss prevention in the long run.  Things you might be interested in scanning and storing would be items like a birth certificate, social security card, drivers license, passport.  DTD and then throw those items on a backup. 

Family photos and such are priceless.  Once they burn or get soaked, you’ll never be able to restore them to what they were.  Accidents happen more ofte then not, and it’s best to store and organize those images.  What to do?  DTD and then throw those items on a backup.

Aunt Nelda’s pearls or Uncle Ed’s gun collection will be a tough go to replace.  I’m leaving you, dear reader, to figure out how best to protect those valueables.  If you leave them on display because they give you pleasure, it’s naturally a risk for theft/disaster.  If you lock something away in a fireproof cabinet of sorts, then it kind of defeats the purpose of enjoying those artifacts.  Nonetheless, whatever you decide to do, know that your dear old pictures of Aunt Nelda and Uncle Ed will be meticulously maintained.

Once you have your backups, the most critical (and by most critical I mean *the* most critical) step is get those backups onto the cloud.  Backup everything.  It’s cheap, it’s easy, and works for you.  Where do you go to find a backup service?  Try googling Carbonite or something along those lines.  After you’ve got that running, be sure to back up all of your documents, photos, and files on your computer(s) as well. 

Assuming you’ve got an interest in doing the above steps, what did you get?  For about $15 a month you likely have a new backup service, you’ve digitized your entire photo collection, identification documents, and any other personal documents of interest, and guess what?  That wasn’t so bad.  Fifteen dolllars a month (depending on the service you use) is relatively cheap, and buys you a good bit of peace of mind.  That’s one small step on the way to a much less worrisome scenario should the worst happen.

Another item that you should consider heavily (assuming you’re a renter) is renters insurance.  This is on the order of $20/month depending on where you live, but it reimburses you for physical items that you’d be likely to replace in the event of a disaster.  This one’s kind of obvious, and homeowners insurance can serve a relatively similar purpose here as well.

So what about the rest of your stuff?  How can you minimize risk when it comes to other items you own?  Aside from replacement, there are plenty of other options available.  I used to have a (very) large collection of books and movies.  I amazon-ed/ebay-ed all those suckers and am getting digital copies as I go.  Magazine subscriptions are moving that way as well.  I bought my first digital edition of .Net magazine recently, and am looking forward to cancelling all my physical copies and just going with the digital version in the near future for all magazines.

Music is another area that is very hard to part ways with.  Certain records have a good bit of sentimental value when listening to them.  I’ve kept a handful of my favorites, but the rest of em’ I sold online as well.  With subscription services like Spotify, Pandora and Amazon’s cloud player, I’m a pretty happy camper having everything in digital format.

Services are again starting to creep into the discussion of this post.  Overall, I’d guess that for well under $100 / month I have relatively easily replaced most all of my CD’s, DVD’s, books and now backup as many items as I can think of to the cloud without issue.  Next up?  I’m selling a bunch of extra computer components, furniture and other trinkets lying around to get ever closer to my goal of owning only 100 things.  I’m not far off now… not far off at all.