Disaster Preparedness Checklist – Top 5 Items for Your Digital Survival
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy many websites, businesses, and individuals are struggling to get their digital life back on track. I recommend these 5 steps for your disaster preparedness checklist to ensure your digital survival.
Digital Survival #1: How to Backup your data
My main recommendation is USB-powered compact external storage. I gave this topic its own post now, see Disaster Preparedness Checklist – How To Backup Your Data for Digital Survival.
Digital Survival #2: Choose your computers wisely
Have solar and motion chargers to power your devices. Which ones should you go with?
All computers are not created equal. You’ll want it to have a battery, so desktops are out.
How energy-efficient are laptops though? They do vary a lot.
I have my daily use Macbook Air on my disaster preparedness checklist. It’s fast, light and sturdy, without being power-hungry. Mine is a 13 inch. The smaller 11 inch model is even more portable but it has a smaller battery too – 5 hours versus 7 hours on the larger model.
Netbooks are the budget option. Just keep in mind they’re slow and may not be suitable for all the things you normally do. If possible, go for one with a solid state drive – it lasts longer and uses less power.
Tablets use even less juice – but again they may not be up to all the things you want to do on them. They’re great as a complement to a full-fledged laptop though. I’m an Apple fanboy and it pains me to say this, but a tablet with USB is more versatile and therefore disaster-friendly than an iPad. Have a look at the current Android models if you’re a tablet person.
Let me give you an idea of how energy efficient these are. Lower numbers are better. MacBook Airs have 35 watt power units. Similar Windows based laptops, now called Ultrabooks, should be the same. Netbooks range from 15 to 35, and tablets 10 to 15. Most budget laptops range from 45 to 60, with gaming and big screen laptops going up to 120. The 17″ MacBook Pro has a 85 w power supply, a common spec for the size.
Digital Survival #3: Have Multiple Internet Connections
I recommend having at least one way of connecting through the mobile phone network. A smartphone or a tablet with 3G is a good idea – expect your main “wired” Internet connection to be down a lot.
Some countries have pre-paid data packages on offer – just the thing for your disaster preparedness checklist.
Do you remember modems, from the age of slow and painful internet? Have one with dial-in numbers handy, just in case.
Digital Survival #4: Print It Out
Analog is the ultimate in digital survival: behold the print and paper.
If you have something you can’t do without, print it out. Printers are a pain to power, so better now than later. Do you have your important documents, survival books, first aid guides in printed form? Don’t forget your most popular recipes. Print out your favorite family photos as well. Check if you have any receipts and proof or purchases, insurance paperwork, resumes, applications or other important documents that are digital only. Your disaster preparedness checklist will thank you later.
Digital Survival #5: The Gadget of Choice
Love gadgets? Amazon’s Kindle family is the most energy efficient. Their e-ink display uses much less power than normal color backlit displays.
I read on my Kindle every day for 30+ minutes, and I only charge it 2-3 times a month when the charge level drops to around 50%. It could probably go on for a month, as Amazon claims.
A Kindle loaded with good books, and combined with a solar or motion charger, may keep you sane and provide wisdom and entertainment for years on end. It can even play mp3 at a push. Further, there are models with 3G connectivity. These do not allow web browsing at the moment, but I’m sure there will be a use for this feature in case of an emergency.
I’m specifically recommending e-ink, grayscale “traditional” Kindles, and not the color Kindle Fire family. Those don’t have any energy-efficiency advantages over other tablets.
As of November 2012, there are 3 e-ink models available: the new Kindle Paperwhite, the “plain” Kindle, and the Kindle Keyboard 3G.
Sadly the Kindle Touch, and the larger Kindle DX are no longer available new.
Which one is best suited for your disaster preparedness checklist?
I take one of the Kindle or the Kindle Keyboard, plus a Paperwhite.
First, to have a backup. Second, to use them in different circumstances.
The Paperwhite has a light built into the screen. You can read it in the dark without an extra light. The same light may give your location away.
The “plain” Kindle does not have a lit screen, and it’s cheaper than the Paperwhite. It’s just fine for daytime reading and as a backup.
The Kindle Keyboard has the same battery life as the Paperwhite at 2 months. It comes with 3G standard. That could be because they’re down to the last of few on this older model. If a keyboard is your thing, grab one while you can.