DHitMA: Backups, Backups, Backups!

Having a copy of some data on the same device is not equivalent to a backup. Having a copy of some data in the same room as your device is not a backup. Having a copy of some data buried in your backyard may be considered a backup, and in fact we recommend this highly. If at all possible, a backup should also be kept offsite, literally in another owned residence, or through the use of a cloud service.

The below paragraphs contain links to outside websites and sources of data; we maintain that the individual must verify the links therein.

Personal Backups

To get started backing up some data, begin with printing out this body of files and performing the process detailed below. Store this data somewhere safe (detailed below). We do not recommend the use of a standard safe, no matter how fire or waterproof it is. This is because most safes are stored in a visible location. This means they can be stolen with ease. At the very least, one's last-resort backup should be hidden well. Safes can be used, as long as backup storages are used as well.

Preserving your data in the event of a strong electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) used as a weapon of mass destruction can be effected rather simply. Hard drives, cell phones, gaming consoles- anything electronic may be preserved in this manner. Do NOT store batteries, however; they are unaffected by EMPs. Additionally, these may leak or explode and destroy your data in the process. This method of storage also works for the purpose of backing up and waterproofing your data by your own hands, to the extent that your data shall remain extant long past your own lifetime, should such prove necessary. We do not discuss the phenomenon known as "bit rot" or "bit traversal" that may occur with hard drives, SSDs and other forms of data storage over a period of years/decades, except to say: no more than five years should elapse before you recover your stored data and manually copy/paste it off of and back onto the drive(s) to offset any potential bit shift.

  1. Purchase or acquire enough storage (hard drives, SD cards, etc.) to fit whatever you deem worthy of absolute preservation.
  2. Purchase or acquire military ammo boxes. The "FAT .50" type is very common, and large enough to accomodate several hard drives and other devices; there are also grenade boxes that may fit a laptop. These boxes are solid steel and include a rubber gasket around the lid. https://www.sportsmansguide.com/ has great prices on surplus ammo boxes. Or, go to your local military surplus store, or attend a gun show. If an ammo box can not be acquired, any metal container (steel or copper preferred; aluminum not desirable unless rather thick) shall suffice (trashcan, welded tube, etc.).
  3. Line the inside of each ammo box with cardboard.
  4. Wrap each device individually in aluminum foil, and then in a T-shirt or blanket.
  5. Place these devices in the box(es). Remember, no batteries!
  6. (Optional) Seal around the lid of each box with Flex Seal, or a similar rubber or silicone product.
  7. Place each box in at least one trash bag and wrap it tightly (trash bag plastic precludes the ammo box from rusting and helps to waterproof it). PVC pipe, when sealed on both ends with plumber's glue, is absolutely water and airtight: this may be an option for smaller bundles wrapped simply in aluminum foil.
  8. Bury each bundle in an appropriately accessible location without fear of loss from others digging or constructing. One's backyard may suffice. Cover and obscure the hole(s) well.
  9. (Optional) Place a sheet of plywood atop the buried bundle and fill the sides up with dirt so no holes remain on the edges. Pour a concrete pad of a few inches thick atop this plywood. Cover this with soil.
  10. If more property is owned, bury the bundles as remotely as can be remembered and accessed.
  11. Write down (physically, with ink) the locations of the bundle(s). Draw a map with landmarks, if necessary.
  12. If one fears a large entity searching for one's data, then bury the bundles in a junkyard or near an area with a lot of metal parts, such as under a storage shed. This will obfuscate any but the most federated and determined searches.

Cloud Services

A cloud or backup software service may be employed for the purpose of backing up your data as a last resort. These options are always paid for, generally by a monthly or yearly subscription. We do not recommend any cloud or backup service offered unless such has a very explicit privacy policy in one's favor. Additionally, any service chosen must store your data encrypted, such that only you may view your data. Research should be performed by the reader to find such providers if the Internet is available; but we recommend first that the reader employ their own means of backing up data physically, as described previously in this article. We mention one cloud provider that we believe to be worthy of private data storage: https://www.spideroak.com. SpiderOak encrypts your data asymmetrically, meaning you are provided a private encryption/decryption key, that only you may use (and lose) and will never be able to access your data without. For completeness, we mention also https://www.mega.nz, which claims as well, to be encrypted with personal keys. Never, ever use any Cloud service that does not encrypt one's data with a zero-knowledge scheme.