What if your home caught on fire? Assuming that you, your family and your beloved pets were able to get out safely, what would you grieve for the most? A fire can destroy every possession in your home, leaving little to nothing of any salvageable value. Even if you have a good homeowner’s insurance policy, many treasured items can’t be replaced with a check from your insurance company: your personal papers, photos, children’s artwork, important documents and your computer files, just to name a few. While most people would grieve about the loss of all those irreplaceable items, sentimental belongings such as family photos would probably top most people’s list.
A fire safe is a good place to start. However, most residential safes carry a one-, two- or three-hour rating, meaning that they only protect the contents for a window of a few hours in case of fire. The best way to protect your important family memories and personal and legal documents is to store copies somewhere besides your home. Here’s how.
Scan Your Documents
Start by scanning each item by either taking a digital picture, using your home scanner or — for fine art or high quality scanning — a scanning service such as FinePrintImaging.com. Once you have digital copies of your documents, you need to decide how to store them. Which brings us to the next item on the list.
You can upload your digital image files to a service like ArchiveMyPhotos.org, which lets you make shareable online photo albums or have CDs burned. Consider having CDs sent to family and friends as a backup copy.
Many people like storing images on their computer’s hard drive and backing their images onto a flash drive (thumb drive). The problem is that most people forget to back up their documents and images, risking their loss even from basic computer issues. If you can remember to back up your computer often, a flash drive is a good way to save important memories—but only if kept in your possession or given to a family member for safekeeping. In the event of a fire, the flash drive and computer will be toast.
Go to the Cloud
While you can upload images to Google or Yahoo, for the most secure off-site storage of your important photos, you’re better off using a backup service such as cloud storage. With cloud storage, your images will be stored on a remote server, and the cloud storage packages include computer backups. The servers use the same encryption technology that banks use, so your images will be safe.
Compare the different companies and the services they offer online by using a cloud storage knowledge base to make the best choice for your family. The yearly service cost is small compared to the cost of losing all your family pictures.