Data and Document Security –Do You Have A Backup Plan?

Fall is a great time to get electronic data and documents organized. I would bet that this is the last project most of us want to tackle. But then again, imagine losing your phone, a hard-drive crash, theft, natural disaster or fire and suddenly, you’ve got a big mess.  The work involved in rebuilding lost information far exceeds the time and cost of backing it up.


Seventy-seven percent of adult Americans own a smartphone and consider it an essential tool to their daily lives.  Phones have thousands of pictures, text messages along with hard to replace contacts.  Phone data can be backed up to cloud-based storage, computer hard-drive or an external drive.  Take steps now to backup your phone.


Most people have trouble keeping track of all their passwords. Consider storing your passwords and security questions in a reputable password manager software program or application. Several of the highly rated programs are Dashlane, Sticky and Roboform.  Key features to look for are encryption, access to passwords on all devices, browser extension, storage of unlimited passwords and strong password generation. Unencrypted passwords kept in spreadsheets or documents are easily stolen if someone gains access to your computer or can be lost in the event of a disaster.

Important Documents

Emergency preparedness experts recommend having a personal disaster recovery plan. You can start my making a list of essential documents to include:

  • Social Security, Credit and Insurance Cards
  • Passports
  • Driver’s License
  • Marriage, Divorce and Birth Certificates
  • Immunization Records
  • Legal Documents – Wills, Power of Attorney and Trusts
  • Tax Returns
  • Property Deeds and Vehicle Titles
  • Stock Certificates
  • Home Inventory Video or Photos
  • Business Owners – Articles of Incorporation, Partnership Agreements, Payroll and Financial Records, Insurance Policies and Customer/Client Lists

The next step is to digitize your important documents. While a scan is not a legal document, it’s almost always easier to get a replacement document if you have a copy of the original. It is important to end up with high-quality images.  Scan at a minimum setting of 300 dpi and if possible save in a PDF format. Organize your scanned documents in a folder on your computer, an encrypted USB device or external hard-drive.


A straightforward approach is to start by copying your files to an external drive on a routine basis. Keep that external drive in a fireproof safe along with any software keys you need for reloading software. The other option is to use a file storage system that gives you access to your files from virtually any computer or device. These include Google Drive, Microsoft One Drive, Box and Amazon Cloud Drive.

The next level of protection is accomplished with the use of backup software.  This software enables the backup of files, folders, documents, software data, and the computer as a whole. Backup software creates an exact duplicate of computer files that can be used for restoring the original files in case of file corruption, accidental/intentional deletion or a disaster. Smartphone back-up capabilities and advanced encryption are available with some software programs.  The top-rated software backup programs for personal use include Acronis True Image, Spider Oak, Carbonite and IDrive.

Simply continuing to do nothing is putting yourself at risk. Taking the time to get your electronic and paper documents backed-up and organized will be the best time spent in the event you experience a catastrophic event.  What additional advice would you like to share?

Contributed by: Amy Noel