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Are you ready for the next Hurricane, Flood or Sharknado?

August 29, 2017


With today’s tech it’s easier than ever before to set your work life up so you can carry on in the face – or at least in the aftermath – of any natural disaster.

The key principle is to get serious about abandoning local storage and keeping everything that you need to function in the cloud. What does that entail?

Store all your files – documents, images, videos, etc. – on a cloud service you can access from any device. Google Drive, Microsoft 365, Dropbox and Box are common examples of such a service. You can set the cloud storage to synchronize to local copies on your primary computer so that once you’ve set up the cloud drive there’s no change to the way you work, you just need to switch from using the local Documents folder to a different folder that the service will create for you.

Be careful about proprietary or uncommon file formats. It won’t help you to have access to your files if you need a special program to use them and you don’t have that program for the new/temporary/borrowed device you’re on. When in doubt, get in the habit of saving finished documents as pdf to ensure you can access them from any platform.

Make sure your email stays in the cloud. If you use web-based email, such a Gmail, then you’re all set. If you prefer local email, such as Outlook, Mail on the Mac, or Thunderbird, then you need to make sure you’ve set the mail program to leave messages on the server (usually much easier to manage with IMAP than with the older POP standard). And you need to know how to access the messages when you don’t have your primary computer or mobile device available. Most mail providers now offer web access.

How will you know how to find everything when you sit down at a new device? You will need to memorize at least a couple of passwords. But the most imporant one is to your password manager or whatever home-grown variation you choose. Once you get the user name/password/url information back you will have access to everything you’ve put in the cloud. Remember you may have to provide that information for all the services for which you saved the passwords in your keychain or browser. (Increasingly you may not – with iCloud or Chrome you can usually rely on them being there once you’re logged in on a new system. But allow for the time that fails you.).

Finally, test regularly. Are your files really syncing to the cloud? Will your documents really open on another OS? In another program?

Once you’re confident in your ability to access your stuff from anywhere on any device you’ll have one less thing to worry about in case of a true disaster. You can also take advantage of the same capabilities in the normal course of events. Leave the laptop behind on short trips knowing you can sit down at any computer (a client’s machine, a hotel’s business center, etc.) and get your stuff. Instead of saying “I’ll get that to you as soon as I’m back at my desk,” you can say “Can I sit at your computer for a minute and grab it for you?”

One final security tip – be sure to NOT save your passwords on borrowed machines and to log out of any system you log into on a shared machine. On public computers it’s best to erase all history and cookies before closing the browser.

Questions or comments? Please leave a comment below or reach out via our contact page.


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