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#20713 - 10/28/03 03:17 AM How Much Data is in your Bug Out Bag?
MartinFocazio Offline


Registered: 01/21/03
Posts: 2148
Loc: Bucks County PA
Was reading about those folks in CA frantically grabbing stuff from their houses. Saw a picture of someone trying to dump boxes of paper into their car. It wasn't pretty.

Nestled in both our long-term kits and our "grab and go" bags sits a set of CD's. We have family photos, scans of our important documents (license, credit cards, insurance documents, much more), backups of our contact lists and more.
We over 4,000 photographs, at least 300 8 1/2x11 pages of scans and copies of our Quicken files, all of our contact lists and datebook data and more in less than 16 ounces of plastic.

Here's some pointers for making "Data To Go" disks.

If you're an outlook sufferer (sorry, I mean "user") remember that the file "outlook.pst" is everything - your email, contacts and all that...if you back up one file, make it that one.

Try to keep all of your files in ONE folder and back up the ENTIRE folder on a daily basis (I actually "mirror" my documents folder to an external disk via a program that "mirrors" files on my computer, and it's backed up evey five minutes. But I'm crazy.)

Save all images as JPG files (some programs use goofy files like the "max" format which is basically useless on other computers.

If you remember to do it regularly, export your contacts as Text files - anything can read those.

Remember to BACK UP your application CD's - yes, I'm saying make a copy of the CD's that came with your computer, the CD's for programs you bought and so on. Write the license keys right on the CD's AND on the CD sleeves and put the originals in a fire safe. Keep the copies in your long-term kit. You may not be coming home, as some folks in CA are learning.

In todays' society your data is as important as anything else you pack.

#20714 - 10/28/03 03:45 AM Re: How Much Data is in your Bug Out Bag?
Comanche7 Offline

Registered: 07/04/02
Posts: 435
Loc: Florida
Very nice post, spot on!

It would not hurt to place photocopies in a safety deposit box or with trusted family / friends in a different area as well. You could certainly tell how many folks never gave a thought to "Being Prepared" . There are a lot of lessons for all that care to watch and learn from others mishaps.

How often do you update your BOB cd's?

#20715 - 10/28/03 03:47 AM Re: How Much Data is in your Bug Out Bag?
Eugene Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/26/02
Posts: 2823
I'm no longer an Outlook sufferer myself, using KDE-PIM. I have a calendar going back to the 80's in icalendar format and all my contacts in vcal format under Kaddressbook. I back them up to a 128M USB flash drive that I carry in my pocket with my. The advantage of the Linux programs like mine is the ical and vcal are standardized and in plain text format so it worst case I can view the contents in dos edit on a dos machine if I had to. Everything else, receipts, pictures and such get scanned and burned to cd.

#20716 - 10/28/03 09:32 AM Re: How Much Data is in your Bug Out Bag?
joblot Offline

Registered: 02/21/03
Posts: 258
Loc: Scotland
Hi there
Just a word of caution - Make sure you can read your backups -
On a couple of occasions I have found the files I've backed up were corrupted or simply in an outdated format. Excel files I have found are the worst offenders, but I have had problems with most "Office" documents

#20717 - 10/28/03 01:09 PM Re: How Much Data is in your Bug Out Bag?
Nomad Online   content

Registered: 05/04/02
Posts: 464
Loc: Just wandering around.
I also do CD back-ups of my data. Been doing it for years. I pack them in one of the AOL metal boxes that flooded the world a few years ago. I think I have 5 0r 6 CD's in the box.

I am worried about theft of the data. What a treasure trove for the identity thief. Consider getting a program that converts common data types to pdf format (adobe reader) and use the encryption/password option. I also put a Adobe Reader distribution program on on of the disks. But so far, every time I needed to view a program, the computer i was using already had adobe reader on it. Almost everybody does.

We live full time in a RV and therefore have no room for paper documents. Thus everything gets scanned anyway. Just a small task to create the BOB disks.

I also make a copy of the cd's and mail them to my daughter who just throws them in the corner, to be replaced by my next batch.
...........From Nomad.........Been "on the road" since '97

#20718 - 10/28/03 02:45 PM Re: How Much Data is in your Bug Out Bag?
billvann Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 05/10/01
Posts: 780
Loc: NE Illinois, USA (42:19:08N 08...
Very nice post. I also make regular backups, although no where as frequent as you do, nor as frequent as I should either. But I had not though of scanning documents for archival purpose. What an excellent idea.

Here's a couple of thoughts on that idea.

1. Avoid depending upon an backup program for archiving. Save that for restroring your system. Archive documents should be in JPG, PDF or TXT format as these are more likely to be read by programs 10+ years from now. Imagine the difficulty you'd run into trying to restore an old Fastback file from 10 years ago. I just recently tossed a box of 8" floppy diskettes from a Wang OIS word processor that contain much of my collage homework. Heck I still have a bunch of 5 1/2 floppies! Likewise, don't use Zip drives. The technology will change way too fast.

2. Set your default data directories into one file directory tree. For example, sub folders (directories) under Windows "My Documents." This will make locating and backing up/archiving your data easier.

3. Make backup copies of all critical software applications original diskettes. Test them by reinstalling teh software before putting them away.

4. Scan copies of your software licensing certificates. You can purchase replacement CDs for a nominal charge if you can provide proof of licensing.

5. Arrange for out-of-town storage with a friend or family. Having your only back-up set in a BOB bag only works if you can get to the BOB. You may also loose the BOB in the heat of battle during a true emergency as well.

6. If security is an issue, there are encrytion programs available for purchase or even as freeware or shareware. You can encrypte the entire CD as you write your files to it. Chose your passphrase ( a long version of a password) carefully. You will not be able to recover your files if you forget it. If you must write it down, keep it separate from the CD and don't label it as "Passphrase."

7. Pay attention to technology changes. Someday, CDs will become obsolete. Be prepared to either rebuild or convert your archive on new technology. (think of my Wang docs on 8' floppies)

8. Some other items to consider including are credit cards, insurance and precription cards, calling cards, social security numbers, etc..

9. Some information that I should include in an archive I keep in a database for easy management. Keeping in mind that the particular software, like MS Access, that you use may not around when you need it, archive off the data in one of two ways (or both). The cheapest and easiest way is to export the data as a fixed length text file. This is the most universal format for exchanging data between machines and programs. Be sure to incude a copy of the file record and dictionary (if appropriate) to make it easier to import into the new software 10 years from now. Two, create a report in your database software and then print the report into a PDF file. This requires the purchase of Acrobat, the full product not just the reader, in order to create the file. It's nice becasue it retains the report's formating, which may make it easier to read and understand the date. But it's also a bit riskier as the technology may change at sometime in the future and Acrobat may not be a viable software. I would consider doing both, fixed text for protection and PDF for ease of use. Resist temptation to store images as a binary object field. That data will nor export cleanly into a text file and then you are dependent upon having the database software to extract it.

10. Don't forget your PDA backup directories.
Willie Vannerson
McHenry, IL

#20719 - 10/28/03 02:46 PM Re: How Much Data is in your Bug Out Bag?
MartinFocazio Offline


Registered: 01/21/03
Posts: 2148
Loc: Bucks County PA
The BOB CD's are updated quarterly, unless it's something super-freaking important, as was the case when we got a new homeoners policy document when my previous insurance comapany went under.
The most important thing I have on the computer, though, is the "mirror" drive. Basically, we're talking about an updated data set continually availible in two places. this is just good dpractice for anyone who uses a computer, not an "equipped" issue.
The funny thing is that we've pretty much abandoned desktop computers here at my office (which is also my home) - my wife and I have have matching iBooks, and they are quite small and easy to carry, so for a grab and go situation, the laptops are up there with food and water.

#20720 - 10/29/03 12:40 AM Re: How Much Data is in your Bug Out Bag?

Do legal documents saved on CD's still retain the same legal status as the original paper form? I mean if I were a judge or lawyer and someone presented me with identification or other legal document that was saved on CD I would have to question it. I mean anything can be reproduced with a decent photo art program.

#20721 - 10/29/03 02:31 AM Re: How Much Data is in your Bug Out Bag?
cedfire Offline

Registered: 07/10/03
Posts: 659
Loc: Orygun
A great post and a good reminder to me to get with it. I've got a filing cabinet in the office, but I highly doubt that is going to make it out the door with me.

Does anyone have any experience with the online internet backups? I saw a blurb on TV about them a while back -- interesting idea, although I think they charge a user fee.

#20722 - 10/29/03 04:09 AM Re: How Much Data is in your Bug Out Bag?

The general rule is that you can resort to copies when the originals are not available. Electronic documents are very common now. I am very comfortable with backups of important documents on CD, and I am about as traditional a lawyer as you might find.

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