DIGITAL MEDIA SURVIVAL: TIPS ON FILE STORAGE
In a disaster situation, you will probably come to realize very quickly that saving your personal media (books, videos, pictures, video games, music) might be a problem. The size of disasters can range from a small local flash flood to a home-front war breaking out. Whatever kind of natural or man-made disaster you may find yourself in, you will still want to save the things that are yours. I’ll outline a few ways that I think could help mitigate the trouble of keeping your media and perhaps save you a few headaches for non-disaster types situations.
Digital Media Storage, File Types, and Survival Backups
Possibly the biggest concern for people today is going to be their music and pictures. I believe music is valued so highly because it is with us regularly. You listen to music while in the car, at work, working out, relaxing, and trying to fall asleep. Having music around can really be a sanity saver. Pictures, on the other hand, have more of sentimental value to people. Sometimes you may even have more picture storage than you make music.
The first suggestion I’ll go for both areas is to get them in a digital format. This would mean saving your pictures as they would come straight off of your digital camera or phone. Printing photographs allow you to give them to people or frame them, but it doesn’t help much if you suddenly have to grab them all and run. Getting music into a digital format is as simple as ripping your CDs (that you own of course) to a digital format or purchasing them online from a respectable online retailer (I might suggest 7digital.com). Once the music and pictures are in a digital form, you can save them in some different ways.
You could go with your own external storage or a cloud storage service. There are many different choices in both of those categories, so I’ll have to leave you to find the best-rated one that you like. I believe several companies are beginning to work on music-specific online storage for their users (iTunes).
Another big concern for people in their books and magazines. This one I can sympathize with, but I believe that almost all of my books are replaceable and not always worth holding onto. There are many different avenues you can explore when discussing survival in books. You could just abandon them and repurchase the lost ones or use the library. This is probably the option I will go with, as I’ll only be grabbing a book or two on survival if I have to run. Another popular choice these days is some form of ebooks. Ebook formats can vary from a simple pdf to a more complicated and DRM protected online store format.
If I were purchasing or converting books to an electronic format, I’d choose the size that is most universal and easiest to read on many devices (probably a pdf). You’ll come back to the same choice as previously discussed with your own external storage or some kind of cloud storage. The other factor to consider is how to read these books. As long as you get an excellent universal format, you should be able to read them on laptops, desktops, tablets, phones, and ebook-readers. The only problem with having any of those devices is that they can easily break if dropped or gotten wet (but an average book wouldn’t stand up much better to harsh treatment). In the end, the real choice is up to you as to which form you’d like to keep your reading material in. If it’s keeping your survival book secure that you’re most worried about; then I might suggest doing more work to memorize the survival skills and lessons. You won’t need any extra devices to carry the things you’ve learned (just a decent brain).
Videos are now more significant in some peoples lives than books or music, and therefore are more important to keep with them. The biggest problem I see with this is that videos are much harder to store in large amounts than music, pictures, or books.
Videos can range in everything from a favorite TV series to the entire extended Lord of the Rings trilogy. I’d say the easiest way to deal with videos for survival is to just convert/buy them in a digital format or merely rent/stream them when you need to. Many manufacturers are selling DVDs and Blu-Rays with special digital versions of the movie itself. This digital version can be kept on your computer or external media for much more convenient storage (don’t have to keep the discs).
There are also numerous web services that offer online streaming or rental of your favorite movies and shows. Google video, Hulu, NetFlix, Blockbuster, and YouTube all have online video streaming capabilities (among many other websites). This would be a drawback in a survival situation where you have no Internet access through any phone or computer, but you’ll probably be worrying about much more important things at that point.
Now we come to my primary interest in video games. I love video games and can completely sympathize with people who don’t want to lose them in a disaster situation (or any other type). The best way I’ve found to get around this problem is online gaming services. There are a few different organizations that run individual games and will save your account. As long as you still have access to your account, you can download the single game to a new computer and get back to it. Lots of MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing games) are run in this fashion and have free or very cheap clients to download which can allow you access back to all of your game material.
The game service that I personally use the most is Steam. This company acts similarly but allows you store many different game licenses under your one Steam account. Once a game is activated on your Steam story you can install, update, uninstall, and later reinstall the game at any time you choose. Console gamers will have a much more robust time with this. As console manufacturers wish to keep their games under physical media control and don’t allow online activation and downloading of the entire game. In this case, the material discs of the games themselves would have to be repurchased or saved from any harm at the time of the disaster. Always keep backup of important digital files.
Hopefully, some of these plans will help you be more prepared. I personally use most of these concepts in my standard storage of media and try to cut down on having any physical mediums. The main idea to remember is that having less stuff around to carry makes it easier to save what you want. It’s much easier to grab a 2TB external drive and run out of a house than it is to catch a bookshelf full of DVDs or books.