Over the past few months there has been a lot of TV coverage of severe flooding in Calgary and Toronto. As you can see in the video below, thousands of people were caught off guard by these severe storms and ended up losing valuable property as a result.
One particular scene stood out to me: a man was searching through waterlogged debris and managed to salvage a single photograph – a picture of him and his wife on their wedding day. The photo was slightly damaged, but at least it looked like it could be cleaned and saved, unlike the hundreds of other photographs and paperwork that had been destroyed by the floodwater.
Most of us have collections of photographs in our homes and their loss would be extremely upsetting. A good insurance policy can help pay for the repair of your home and replace its contents after a flood or fire, but pictures of weddings, birthday parties, graduations or vacations would be impossible to replace.
Disaster Protection: How to Make Sure Your Treasured Memories Are Not Lost Forever
If you’ve been taking photos in the last few years, it’s likely that most of the images are electronic and stored on a digital camera, laptop, tablet or smartphone. Those devices are susceptible to flood or fire, but they are far more likely to suffer accidental damage or hardware failure during normal use. Phones get dropped, cameras get lost or stolen and laptops break every day.
Digital Photograph Backups
The good news is that digital images are easy to copy. At the very least you should make sure that photos currently on an electronic device like a laptop or smartphone are copied regularly to other media like CD-ROM, DVD or an external drive so that they are not lost in the event of a hardware failure. Ideally, the backup media should be kept in a separate location away from your home to protect it from more serious incidents that could affect both the original and the copy on disk.
The downside to duplicating your data on a CD or external drive is that it requires work from you on a regular basis, is inconvenient and often gets put off “until tomorrow” or forgotten about until it’s too late.
Automatic Online Backups
The best solution for protecting your digital photos and documents is to sign up for an online backup account which automatically sends copies of your files over the Internet to a secure data centre. For a low monthly fee, you can protect all of your PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones with a single account. Online backup software can protect lots of different file types, including photos, text documents, email, music and videos.
Once installed, online backup software automatically copies any new or changed files from your devices to the remote data centre without requiring any intervention from you. Even if the original laptop, tablet or smartphone is lost or damaged, you can easily retrieve photos and documents by using a web browser and downloading them to a different device.
You can treat your online backup account like an automated safety deposit box. Because all the data transmitted to the Internet data centre is encrypted and secure, you can confidently use it to protect other important items. For example, consider:
- Using a scanner to convert printed photographs, slides or negatives into a digital format and store them on a PC or tablet that is protected with online backup software so they are also copied to the cloud
- Scanning or photographing important documents like birth certificates, passports, wills, jewelry appraisals and insurance policies to keep an electronic copy locally and online
- Using a digital camera to photograph important features and items in your home that will help you support an insurance claim in the future. By storing them online they will be available immediately after an incident and could help speed the claims process
The most important thing to remember is to start protecting your valuable documents, photos and mementos straight away. Don’t wait for an incident to remind you how fragile some of these items are… By then it could be too late. And be sure to speak with your expert insurance advisor to ensure that your valuables are also covered in case of unexpected disaster.