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Extend your recovery plan


Today is “world backup day”, a day where everyone is reminded to have a backup of all their important data. And since everyone is reminded to take their regular backup today, let’s talk about what your backup should include, and what you might want to add to be even better prepared.

Let’s start with the basics, when you think of backups, you probably think of your computer. Backup your Documents folder/directory, your (family) pictures, your password safe. This way you can get access to your accounts, and your personal files.

However, there are much more important data you should have a backup of: Your legal documents. Make sure your backup includes a picture or copy of your birth certificate, driver’s license, passport, ID card, tax ID, contracts like insurances, apartment rental, medical documents such as your vaccination certificate, required prescriptions, as well as your work records. All these documents can be crucial in the long term and are often only stored in one place or one physical paper, so they don’t withstand a fire or flood or similar disaster. A lot of them are reproducible and therefore in theory not completely mandatory to be backed up, but life will be a lot easier if you still have a copy around.1

With those documents backed up, write down a disaster recovery plan and store that along with your backups. These should include the exact steps one needs to perform to recover a backup. In order to make your backup secure, you can consider to encrypt your backup with a key and store that with friends or family. Some password safes also allow to set up a recovery option for friends and family in a secure way. But keep in mind, that maybe your password safe disappears in a disaster case. Applying the 3-2-1 backup model to important passwords is therefore also mandatory.

With this, your digital data and your identity is quite safe already. However, not every disaster destroys your data, some affect infrastructure and require you to stay home for a new days. Therefore it’s a good idea, to store some basic disaster “recovery” resources along with your backups. Storing a week worth of field rations will make sure, you can make it a week, it’s also recommended to have 2 litres of water per day for drinking + additional water for cooking. You should also have a first aid kit around. Your local government should provide some additional guidance on what is useful in your region.

Finally, keep in mind, that no one wants backups, everyone wants restore. Therefore test your restore plan, once a year, check if you can recover and access your backups from e.g. a live-system, try to cook something from those field rations2 and go through your check lists.

All that is left to say, I hope you’ll never need any of this, but if you do, I hope you have all of it ready!

  1. Be aware that all these documents are very sensitive and should not be stored unencrypted on your computer or in your backup. 

  2. They expire after a while, so just test them when renewing.