Every survival situation we prepare for is unique. No two house fires – or tornadoes or evacuations or hurricanes or earthquakes – are exactly the same. We should never rule out any tool to help us be prepared, since true survival depends on adaptability and versatility more than any single piece of gear. One cyber tool, called “the cloud,” lends itself well to providing vital information at a moment’s notice, anywhere, 24/7. Using the cloud in survival situations is smart and doesn’t have to be risky.
What exactly is the cloud?
The cloud is actually a tangible thing. It is an off-site storage area for your data. You can connect to the storage area securely over the Internet and then access it anytime through the Internet. There are many companies that offer cloud storage – Apple’s iCloud, Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, Flickr, Evernote, Dropbox, etc. If you can create your own server, you could create your own “cloud.”
The main benefit to utilizing the cloud for information storage is that your data is not “stuck” on one device, but is accessible from anywhere with an Internet connection. Gone are the days of those frustrating moments, “Darn! My resume is on my desktop computer and I’m out of town!”
Before the cloud, most people used FTP to share large files and data across the Internet. Now, it’s as easy as sharing a single link.
It’s possible that you have been using the cloud without realizing it. You probably already use a type of cloud for downloading apps and updates for your phone or laptop. With that, you are accessing files someone else has put on a server. Some people use companies to sync or backup entire computer or phone systems. You can opt to only have certain files sent to that kind of cloud.
The cloud isn’t always secure
The downside to cloud storage is that it cannot be 100 percent secure. Data can be hacked and servers can crash – people have had data lost or stolen. If you’re going to use cloud storage, files should be backed up somewhere else. It’s no fun to lose photos or important data in a hack or crash.
Sensitive files should also be encrypted so there is less of a chance of the information being compromised if the data was stolen. Be careful with names and file data. File data can tell a person where, when, and who made a document.
If you do put any names or phone numbers in cloud storage, use encryption or develop your own code for family and close friends. “Mom” is something everyone knows but “Buzz” could be anyone. Think of childhood nicknames or family references that no one else could possibly know about.
To encrypt files, you want to use a public key encryption. Several companies offer online services or software to encrypt your files, such as Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), BoxCrypter, CloudFogger, and SecretSync. There are also cloud companies that offer encryption as part of its services. Encrypted files need a specific decryption tool with your password to view the files.
There is free software available for encrypting files. Read, “The top 24 free tools for data encryption.”
So, why would a prepper want to put anything out there in the cloud?
Preppers are very security minded, sometimes to the point of paranoia, but you know what they say: It’s not paranoia if they really are out to get you! Over the past few years we’ve learned that even our own home appliances, cell phones, and laptop cameras can spy on us. So, why put personal, important information out there where it could be accessed by others?
The main reason to consider and use cloud storage is that we don’t stay home all the time, which is where most, or all, of your information is probably stored. Emergency scenarios of all kinds pop up quickly and unexpectedly, leaving us often to wonder, “If I only had my first aid book with me,” or “Where’s that list of essential oils that helps with stomach aches?”
I’ve found myself at the grocery store, wishing I could remember the ingredients to a family recipe. I’ve watched a severe nose bleed happen right in front of me and tried to remember, “Do I tell them to tilt their head backwards or forwards?”
The answers to those questions and thousands more can be stored in the cloud, accessible from a smartphone, tablet, laptop, even a borrowed or public computer. If you lose power and can’t access your computer, your smart phone could access the files you have in the cloud as long as its battery is charged.
Books, manuals, tips, and recipes can reside in a virtual library, if you think of the cloud as your library. Store reference material in the cloud and access it from anywhere in the world. Who cares if you’ve stored a list of sunburn remedies in the cloud or a list of different ways to start a campfire? By all means, store your kid’s summer reading list, names and addresses of pet-friendly hotels, and checklists for various emergency kits. So much of the information we rely on is anything but classified, and yet without it, life suddenly becomes a little more complicated and unsure.
What to store in the cloud for survival situations?
Consider this: If you are evacuated quickly from your home- fire, flood, terror threat- you will not be able to grab everything from your house. What would you still want access to? Perhaps that information should be stored in the cloud, where it will always be handy.
An earthquake or tornado can easily destroy your home and computer in a matter of seconds. Any files you have in the home would probably be destroyed, too. Having your reference material in the cloud means that information is still there for you. If you find yourself having to evacuate, most hotels have at least one computer, with a printer, available for hotel guests.
If you are visiting a friend’s house and want to share a recipe, you can go grab it off the cloud. Just set up a file called “Recipes”, store your favorites, and have them available, always. Perhaps add another file, “Solar Cooking Recipes,” or “Off Grid Recipes”.
Store Important Contact Info
Sooner or later, you’ll need the phone number of a handyman, your insurance agent, a good roofing contractor, or your doctor. That information isn’t security sensitive, so why not include it in a Note or Folder labeled, “Contacts.” Unless it includes your bookie’s email and phone, there’s nothing incriminating!
Entertainment & Education
If you’re stuck in traffic or at the airport, you could access something in the cloud to keep the children entertained, such as knock-knock jokes or favorite short stories. You could also store spelling lists, book lists, and links to educational websites.
A Solution to a Bad Memory
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for our small electronics to go missing. If you’ve forgotten important phone numbers, dates, your schedule — it can all be accessed on the cloud using a friend’s cellphone. I use Google Calendar, which I access from many different sources and have connected my husband’s calendar as well.
TIP: If your smartphone is rendered useless and you keep reference material on it, simply go to your computer and access those files via Dropbox, Google Drive, or some other cloud storage and then restore all of it to a new phone.
Small Business Owners
Use the cloud to store employee contact information, names of vendors, schedules, reference materials, tax documents, and even employee time sheets.
Other types of information that aren’t of a sensitive nature:
- Medical information
- Gardening tips
- Weather information
- Smart prepper tips
- How-to articles
- Pet information
- Weapons manuals
- Directory of repair companies
- Craft ideas and instructions
- Knitting and crochet patterns
- Reference books
- Insurance companies contact information
- Downloadable resources from favorite websites and blogs (Read 16 Tips for Finding Reliable Survival Information on the Internet to learn how to find good sources online.)
- Service manuals
- Home remedies
- Essential oil reference materials
- Lists and photos of edible plants
- Homeschool material
- Canning advice
- Sewing patterns
- Children’s growth stages
- Coloring sheets
- Foreign language lessons
I can’t say putting information out there on a cloud is for everyone, but it is something to consider. A situation may arise where it would be to your advantage to access information from anywhere in the world. What you store in the cloud and what files you encrypt is up to you.
If you decide the cloud is not for you, make sure you have files backed up in a drive that you can grab easily if you need to evacuate. Consider storing essential documents on a thumb drive or in a binder in a trusted family or friends’ safe in case you can’t get yours from your own home.
SURVIVAL MOM’S NOTE: I use Evernote constantly for immediately accessible online storage. It allows me to “clip” articles from the Internet and store them in one of my Evernote Notebooks. I have a few favorite websites and can file all clipped articles in separate Notebooks, one for each site. I have a Recipe Notebook, a journal, Goals Notebook, and several more. It’s a great resource.