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Ask Slashdot: How To Back Up Physical Data?

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the can't-sync-your-stone-carvings-over-dropbox dept.

Data Storage 245

An anonymous reader writes "After many years I now have a backup of all my digital data in (at least) two physical locations. But what do people recommend to back up my physical data? And then how to prove my identity? I call it the 'gas leak problem,' because a gas leak in my town caused an explosion that leveled a house. If it had been my house, it would have destroyed all my paperwork that proves who I am. If I'd come home from work and found my house was now a pile of rubble, how would I prove I lived there, knowing my key no longer fits the smoldering lock? If I'd left my wallet at home, my bank cards would have been destroyed so I couldn't withdraw money or book into a hotel. Or if I'd left my phone at the office, I wouldn't know anyone's number to call, or get anyone to vouch for me. What preventative steps can you take? Since having this nightmare, I've exported my phone's VCF file to an online repo, made online notes of all my bank account numbers and passport ID, I keep ICE numbers with me at all times (separate from phone/wallet), and I've hidden a spare mobile phone and house key in a box in a nearby field. But there must be more to do!"

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245 comments

Field. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876397)

Tell me more about this field. I'll keep it all safe for you.

Well.. (5, Funny)

Zembar (803935) | about 3 months ago | (#46876399)

You could start working from home, because then proving your identity will be the coroner's problem, not yours.

Overly Paranoid (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876415)

When they issue a photo I.D. for someone the state also keeps a record. The same goes for Passports(federal), they want your picture in a database.

Loosing credentials happens to travelers in foreign countries all the time. You go the embassy and request new credentials.

Yup. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876497)

This, lol. Maybe if your Bank/Government issuer will give you copies you could store them in a safe deposit box or something. At the very least you could just get a strong fire/water proof safe or storage container :)

When I read the title I was thinking maybe somebody had large volumes of say, ... laboratory experiment results.. not their personal ID :/

Re:Overly Paranoid (1)

sjames (1099) | about 3 months ago | (#46876571)

HaHaHaHaHa.

Then why does the DMV insist you need to prove your ID before they will issue a replacement ID. They will, of course, want your SS card. Hope you didn't lose that too, because SSA wants your picture ID to replace your SS card.

Re:Overly Paranoid (1)

peragrin (659227) | about 3 months ago | (#46876689)

that's just it you should at least have your drivers license on you at all times anyways. oh sure in most states you have 24 hours to produce your license to cops if you get stopped, however if you don't have it you have no chance in hell of talking your way out of the ticket.

Re:Overly Paranoid (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 3 months ago | (#46876731)

Then why does the DMV insist you need to prove your ID before they will issue a replacement ID. They will, of course, want your SS card. Hope you didn't lose that too, because SSA wants your picture ID to replace your SS card.

Look, this is very simple and you're making it more complicated than it really is. You keep an official copy of your birth certificate in your safety deposit box, perhaps the original on the assumption that it's safer there than in your house. You can get a duplicate social security card before you even need it, and put that in there as well. Neither of these things ever expires. If you want to save yourself some money, get two copies of each thing and stash them with someone you trust more than a bank. Who trusts banks, anyway? With your BC and your SS you will certainly be able to get an ID.

Obviously, another option is to get a passport and keep that around. It's valid ID for replacing any and all of this stuff.

Re:Overly Paranoid (2)

rioki (1328185) | about 3 months ago | (#46876991)

My father had this sort of. While visiting his mother in California, his bag was stolen while at the beach and this included his passport and wallet. The result was he had absolutely no ID whatsoever. The solution to the problem was to get two people that where related to him, with ID to swear he was how he claimed to be. End of story, yes it was a huge hassle, but in the end it worked out.

Re:Overly Paranoid (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876931)

Requesting a replacement Social Security card does not explicitly *require* photo identification. All they ask for is "evidence of identity" [ssa.gov] and specifically mention scenarios where you may lack government-issued photo ID (ex. license, state-issued ID card, or passport). The government-issued photo ID just makes the process quicker/easier for them, that's all, else you're asked to provide alternate forms of identification: military record, certificate of naturalisation or certificate of birth, employee ID card, medical record or immunization record, Medicaid card, or even a life insurance policy or adoption papers. I had to do this several years ago as I lost my original social security card (I had copies, just not the actual paper card provided by the SSA).

It works the same way when getting a US passport, actually -- if you can't provide either a driver's license or state-issued ID card, you're given about 20-25 alternate forms of proof (the more you have of these the better; call the State Dept. if you want the full list, the website [state.gov] doesn't list off all of them). You can also fill out a DS-71 form (witness validation -- someone who's known you for 2+ years, is a US citizen or permanent resident, has valid ID (see above), and must be there with you physically at the time of passport submission).

How do I know all this crap, especially passports? Because a few months ago I went through trying to get a US passport at the local post office (a few blocks from here) -- solely for use as a form of ID -- resulted in irritation and humiliation. I do not have a driver's license (I don't drive nor have I ever) and cannot go to a DMV to get a state-issued ID card due to medical problems (hence why I wanted a passport). I'm a US citizen and was born here. The "reviewer" at the post office, despite being provided with 7 alternate forms of permitted ID, *and* with a witness (someone I've known for over 15 years who has a valid US passport and driver's license), rejected accepting my passport submission citing "the circumstances were weird [that I had no plans to travel abroad yet were asking for a passport]", speculated that "I could have found some random dude and paid {said friend} to act as a witness for a DS-71", and told me to come back "when I had a doctor's note to prove I couldn't go to the DMV to get a state ID card". To be clear: it was not a passport agency which rejected me, it was some jackass at an official "passport acceptance facility" (i.e. post office).

Because I kept questioning myself ("What did I do wrong? What forms of secondary ID weren't compliant?"), I made a call to the State Dept., which resulted in an investigation -- they were particularly interested in the fact that I was told to get a doctor's letter, since that has no bearing on anything relating to a passport and is a very tricky subject here in California. Two managers at the State Dept. both told me that the doofus should have accepted everything I had -- the DS-71 wasn't even necessary, so they say -- and sent it off to Los Angeles where it probably would have been approved. I haven't gone back there post-investigation since there's apparently no way to guarantee I'll see someone different (I worry I'll get the same guy, despite the investigation, and he'll just be an even bigger dick), and going up to San Francisco to the official passport agency isn't an option given my health.

Sorry for the long story there, but this "ID verification" thing is still fresh in my mind.

The one place that does require state-issued photo ID to get something is -- are you ready? -- a library card from a local library; they won't accept anything else, which is probably what you were getting at (you can actually use a local library card as a form of alternate ID when applying for a passport, but how do you get the passport without the library card, etc.). I sometimes go through the same circular nonsense with I-9 forms.

TL;DR -- While there's some truth in what you say, the SSA is actually fairly reasonable when it comes to getting replacement cards. Really all you need is a certified birth certificate + couple forms of alternate ID + a good explanation (write a single-page letter explaining the situation) and there shouldn't be any problem. BTW, a "certified birth certificate" isn't a photocopy, it's an actual state-issued cert which is often embossed and has watermark and all that crap -- you can get them from the state for a fee and all you need to know is your SSN, county or city you were born in, and some details about your parents (legal names, where they were born, etc.). The submissions can be done entirely online or via fax. All that said, yes, the ineptitude of some government agencies and/or employees always seems to play a role.

Re:Overly Paranoid (1)

rjune (123157) | about 3 months ago | (#46877165)

Why didn't you just apply for a State of California ID? The card can be used for identification in place of drivers license. http://dmv.ca.gov/dl/dl_info.h... [ca.gov]
If your friend was willing to vouch for you at the post office surely he could have driven you to a DMV office.

Re: Overly Paranoid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876989)

How does one tighten their credentials back up after they have become loose?

um... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876423)

You don't think the DMV or passport office have your photo stored with your address details? Or banks and other institutions have your address and signature on file? There are plenty of people(and families) who have lost their houses and everything they own due to fire or acts of God, and have rebuilt their lives. It hasn't even happened to you yet. Calm down.

Re:um... (3, Informative)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 3 months ago | (#46876573)

Well, I know the DMV in Florida keeps them. A little while back, I asked what my file looked like. It was a slow day, so they turned the monitor so I could see it. They had every drivers license photo I've had since the 80s.

I thought the passport office asked for two. It's been a long time. travel.state.gov says one photo now. I guess they figured out how to scan them finally. :)

Re:um... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46877003)

scan for the digitally printed passport and then file the original

Re:um... (1)

rioki (1328185) | about 3 months ago | (#46877045)

I had an odd similar situation. I live in Karlsruhe Germany and help move my girlfriend, now wife move from Berlin to my place. So we rented a transporter, the requirements where a valid ID and drivers license with at least 2 years driving experience. At the time I was 19 and had a Texas drivers license since around 16, the the experience qualified, but I also had a European (French) drivers license since 18. (Yes, it's complicated.) So I came to them with with my German ID and my two drivers licenses. The one documenting that I had the required experience, the other on which I would actually be driving. But the bozos at rental company said, we can only accept the US license if you can show us your US passport as ID. Guess what, my passport was 800 km away in Karlsruhe. We got them to accept the situation, if I could provide some official paper that would document I was an US citizen. (They probably though it would not work out.) So we went to the US Services in the US consulate and of course they could produce my file with picture. After some probing about when and where I got my passport and some other random questions the issued my the letter and it worked out. In addition that was on a Saturday where they are normally closed, so thank you again!

Basically all your documents are on file with the issuing government agency. Likewise I had my birth certificate reissued, all it took me was filling out a form and a couple stamps on a return envelope.

Strange New World (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876427)

How about moving to a smaller town where people actually still know each other, because they're, you know, neighbours?

If you owe money to someone.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876435)

..and everybody does, it will not be a problem to get your identity back. In fact even when you die they still come for your wallet.

Re:If you owe money to someone.. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876521)

Really? do you honestly believe that everyone on this planet owes someone or some company money?

You really need to get out of your mom's basement from time to time.

Personally, I owe no one any money. sure I have Credit Cards but I clear the bill before the statement is issued, otherwise I owe no one anything.
Before anyone asks, I own my own home and don't have a mortgage. I cleared that years ago. If I can't afford to pay for something in full, I simply don't buy it.
It might do a few more people to follow that advice.

Re:If you owe money to someone.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876639)

Do you pay rates and taxes, have need for sanitation/water supplies? You are in debt to some sort of organisational body
Do you have a bank account? It generates fee's..
Do you use energy? You will owe the energy firms..
Do you use communication? You will owe the communication companies...

We generally don't pay until after we have used the service.. so you are constantly in debt, even when you think you are not.
Just because you own property it doesnt mean you have no more to pay for the rest of your life.
Your life needs constant servicing, and that costs.

Re:If you owe money to someone.. (3, Insightful)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about 3 months ago | (#46876787)

Really? do you honestly believe that everyone on this planet owes someone or some company money?

You really need to get out of your mom's basement from time to time.

Personally, I owe no one any money. sure I have Credit Cards but I clear the bill before the statement is issued, otherwise I owe no one anything.
Before anyone asks, I own my own home and don't have a mortgage. I cleared that years ago. If I can't afford to pay for something in full, I simply don't buy it.
It might do a few more people to follow that advice.

You also have a crap credit score, if that's true.

I'm generally not "in debt" by most people's standards - even pay cash on a new roof, but every few years I'll buy something financed or run a balance or something that keeps my score up.

Because life isn't predictable and some day having a good credit rating may make the difference between being able to maintain my lifestyle and property over a period of interrupted income or losing things I'd rather keep. Or at least paying lower interest while I'm recovering.

Re:If you owe money to someone.. (1)

rioki (1328185) | about 3 months ago | (#46877067)

How does not being in debt make you have a low credit score. As far as I know, missing on payments means you get a lower credit score, likewise raking up large amounts of dept lower the score. But actually paying your bills on time or before that, why should that give you a low score. It sounds like you go into debt on purpose to "keep your score up". That sound like en expensive undertaking.

Re:If you owe money to someone.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46877141)

Yet the businesses I've owed money to were some of the ones most difficult to keep up to date. One could think they are trying to get debtors to screw up and miss something by sending documents to the wrong address, but it could just be laziness knowing people will put in the effort. I've had issues with taking multiple notices and calls to get changes of addresses through, or change of name when getting married, while other financial institutions that at more risk of losing a customer make it as easy as possible.

Have you ever heard the phrase "off-site backup"? (5, Insightful)

SeaFox (739806) | about 3 months ago | (#46876443)

If it had been my house, it would have destroyed all my paperwork that proves who I am.

There's this marvelous service called a safe deposit box that banks offer...

Re:Have you ever heard the phrase "off-site backup (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876499)

If it had been my house, it would have destroyed all my paperwork that proves who I am.

There's this marvelous service called a safe deposit box that banks offer...

But what if a comet hits the bank? Dear God, is there no where on Earth that is safe? Can you charter a service to put a spare house key on Mars?

Re:Have you ever heard the phrase "off-site backup (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 3 months ago | (#46876565)

If it had been my house, it would have destroyed all my paperwork that proves who I am.

There's this marvelous service called a safe deposit box that banks offer...

But what if a comet hits the bank? Dear God, is there no where on Earth that is safe? Can you charter a service to put a spare house key on Mars?

What if a comet hits the whole USA when you are abroad, then your hotel burns down when you are at the swimming pool. That could make proving who you are really difficult

Re:Have you ever heard the phrase "off-site backup (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876973)

when is this great moment coming?

Re:Have you ever heard the phrase "off-site backup (1)

fgb (62123) | about 3 months ago | (#46876583)

But what if a comet hits the bank? ...

I believe that's called an "Extinction Level Event". I wouldn't worry about IDs after that...

Re:Have you ever heard the phrase "off-site backup (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876915)

This is in a thread devoted to a nut who's prepared for his house to blow up, and is wondering what more he can do. And from an anonymous poster, no less. Perhaps he knows what's in Area 51...!

Re:Have you ever heard the phrase "off-site backup (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876543)

And if you have an ID, your bank will let you into yours.

Re:Have you ever heard the phrase "off-site backup (1)

rioki (1328185) | about 3 months ago | (#46877109)

The ID is really easy, like I posted somewhere else you need about two other people with IDs to swear that you are the person that you claim to be and you get your ID reissued. The other bit of the puzzle is the key. Each safe deposit box I know works with the two key system. You need two keys to open the box, one the bank has, the other you have. The result is that even with your ID, but no key you are out of luck.

Even though the deposit box does not help you with your ID, it helps mitigate the risk for other documents. Especially if they are things like contracts where people owe you money. (The other way around is no big deal, they will gladly hand you a new copy of the contract.)

Re:Have you ever heard the phrase "off-site backup (4, Insightful)

msauve (701917) | about 3 months ago | (#46877027)

There's this marvelous service called a safe deposit box that banks offer...

Your bank lets people into safe deposit boxes without showing any ID?

Re:Have you ever heard the phrase "off-site backup (4, Funny)

Threni (635302) | about 3 months ago | (#46877261)

Ah - but I keep my ID in a second safe deposit box!

Re:Have you ever heard the phrase "off-site backup (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 3 months ago | (#46877039)

Have you tried getting a safe deposit box these days? Not sure about the US, but in the UK its near to impossible - banks are dumping the business as fast as they can.

papers, please (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876449)

all my paperwork that proves who I am

If you live in a society that requires papers to prove who you are, you have a bigger problem.

Back in the 1960s, we had a saying. "I am not a number, I am a free man!" Apparently the popular saying in the 2010s is, "How may I obey today?"

Hint: you are the problem.

Re:papers, please (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 3 months ago | (#46876613)

I don't mind being a number. I have several. :) You're never really free, unless you can be sure you can *always* travel unmolested. ... unless you want to get molested, but that's another conversation entirely.

Re:papers, please (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876913)

How does that boot taste? Good? You know a lot of men died to defend your freedom not to lick boot? But freedom was so last century wasn't it? Just remember Big Brother loves you! Keep licking that boot.

Re:papers, please (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46877085)

What were their numbers so that we can remember them?

Re:papers, please (1)

gtall (79522) | about 3 months ago | (#46876739)

Guy: Hi. I'm a long lost relative of yours from the Olde Country. Our parents had a bet and promised their kids would pay up. You owe me $1000.

You: I don't know you from Adam. How do I know you are who you say you are.

Guy: I'm me, can't you see? Are you blind? Now fork over the moolah before I get medieval on your ass.

You: Uh....okay, here's the $1000. Please come back if you need more.

Fairly easy (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 3 months ago | (#46876455)

First, backing up your physical data: Digitize it. That way you reduced the problem to one that you know a solution for.

Second: Go get that key from the field. Security by obscurity doesn't work. You can leave the cellphone, but I'd advise erasing the numbers in case any have been stored.

Third: Rent a storage box at a bank. Make it so you can access it by signature and password, fingerprint if your bank offers that service (and if not, shop around, banks have started offering such a service). Put everything you need in such an emergency in that box, i.e. a proof of ID, a spare house key, a list of phone numbers and account numbers along with everything else.

Big Brother helps you here for real. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876461)

The answer to your fears is government. In a normal country (i.e. a unitary nation state), the government has all people counted and issued with papers, like personal ID, tax number, social security ID, passport, weapon holder's permit and driver's licence. They have a sequence of your face photos on file, usually required to be renewed every 5-15 years and maybe even your fingerprint and DNA.

Not all of those things exist in the USA and if they do, they are often fragmentary and held by the various member states, counties or townships, rather than the federal government. That is why the tea party "birthers"can continue to question Obama's eligibility to office, even though he is Barack Malik Shabazz Jr., the illegitimate biological son of slain black civil rights activist "Malcolm X" and Ms. Stanley Ann Dunham, thus being a 100% natural born US citizen.

I think the USA urgently needs to convert to a nation-state with uniform laws, so that murder gets the same death penalty everywhere and the governance needs to be centralized. otherwise the USA will soon fall apart into pieces like Duchy of Texarkana and California Republic, as the econimic crisis prompts the rich parts to secede from the less fortunate Chicago area, etc. What is the long-delayed mega earthquake hits the Yellowstone or the Pacific shore? Internal cohesion is very weak in USA, the mid-west pitchforkers would shoot homosexual refugees from LA on sight and only a strong unitary nation state government could hold the USA in one piece under such conditions, with fire and brimstone, if necessary. The alternative is "ukrainization" of USA, which is the ultimate goal of Israel, as they are in the process of changing allegiance, to China!

Re:Big Brother helps you here for real. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876487)

Go suck a donkey dick.

Re:Big Brother helps you here for real. (1)

vpness (921181) | about 3 months ago | (#46877113)

how did this get modded insightful. MAYBE funny ....

Say hello to your neighbour. (5, Insightful)

StoneCrusher (717949) | about 3 months ago | (#46876467)

Surely there is one person in your street or at work that you can ask to crash on a couch for a night. Not every problem is solved by the cloud. Human interaction will get you a long way.

FYI: Banks, courts, and the Government issued ID have processes for people who have lost everything. It generally involves someone signing a document that vouches for your identity. It's not a big deal. If you really want to speed the process, a couple of scans of your documents emailed to yourself will help them simply look up a record and reprint the documents.

Also for the hotel problem. If you really don't have a neighbour that would let you spend the night (just what did you do to them?) the fire department and police department have contacts of places you can stay and worry about the bill later.

TLDR; You live in a society, when your house blows up, it is time to redeem your credit. Relax.

Re:Say hello to your neighbour. (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about 3 months ago | (#46877143)

In the feared case of gas leak explosion, the entire street becomes unlivable. Houses next door will be destroyed. Houses further out will be shifted off their foundations and fire departments will not let anyone enter. All the houses in the neighborhood will have broken windows.

Re:Say hello to your neighbour. (1)

jittles (1613415) | about 3 months ago | (#46877193)

In the feared case of gas leak explosion, the entire street becomes unlivable. Houses next door will be destroyed. Houses further out will be shifted off their foundations and fire departments will not let anyone enter. All the houses in the neighborhood will have broken windows.

I don't know about you, but I think I have at least a few friends who would let me show up randomly after work and sleep on their couch if my place had just been destroyed in an explosion. So it doesn't have to be a neighbor either!

Re:Say hello to your neighbour. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46877179)

You would have to know your neighbors that they let you sleep in their house. It is one thing to ask for some food for a meal because shops are closed, and another thing to ask for sleeping in their house. That requires trust, and for trust you need to be close with people. I would hesitate to let someone I barely know sleep in my house. At night you sleep and you can't protect yourself.

No way! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876469)

No way to back up paperwork. You can have photocopies, scan images (which are photocopies) and so on.
But they are not back ups. They are just copies with little or even no legal value.
I had all my documents stolen.
I went to the Police Station to open a file, then to the city hall to have my identity checked against their files and had a brand new id. From there I went back to the Police Station and started a procedure to get all other documents back.

This is already solved (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876481)

1. you have your license on you
2. you have friends and relatives
3. your ownership/lease/rent is registered

and so on

His key WOULD fit the 'smouldering lock' (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876485)

What a cretin. "knowing my key no longer fits the smoldering lock". Does he even understand how a lock works, and what it's made of? The chances of a lock being even damaged by an explosion is virtually nil. Christ.

Re:His key WOULD fit the 'smouldering lock' (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876495)

The guy's a obedient bootlicking moron. Of course he doesn't understand how a lock works.

Re:His key WOULD fit the 'smouldering lock' (1)

Andrewkov (140579) | about 3 months ago | (#46877029)

I'm more concerned that he thinks ownership of a house is proven with a key.

Old tech: xerox machine (1)

bugnuts (94678) | about 3 months ago | (#46876511)

Periodic copying, on a copier/xerox, of the contents of your wallet works well. Make sure you copy both sides of credit cards and such, as they have numbers to call for cancellation or replacement. You could even simply scan the contents, then encrypt and store it somewhere.

For contacts, calendar, cellphones: Google works well for contacts, but you can use any caldav application. This handles your "physical" rolodex. And if your phone is destroyed, you can restore the contacts to a new phone.

You don't need backups of your physical stuff, you need to be able to quickly replace it.

Re:Old tech: xerox machine (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 3 months ago | (#46876635)

Periodic copying, on a copier/xerox, of the contents of your wallet works well. Make sure you copy both sides of credit cards and such, as they have numbers to call for cancellation or replacement. You could even simply scan the contents, then encrypt and store it somewhere.

What is this "copier/xerox/scanner" you speak of? Are you also going to telefax the copy you made to the secure location?

The correct method is to place the document on a wooden table and photograph it with your cellphone.

Re:Old tech: xerox machine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876861)

Yup, it is CRITICAL that you use a wooden table! If it's not wooden, you may as well not bother.

Re: Old tech: xerox machine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876875)

Pics are often stored unencrypted on the memory card. Bad idea to have it available on an easily stolen cellphone. In addition, it's difficult to read fine print on, e.g., backs of credit cards from a lowish res cellphone pic. A flatbed scanner will not only capture it all, but won't have issues with depth of field or skew that a cellphone pic would.

Re:Old tech: xerox machine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876945)

What is this "copier/xerox/scanner" you speak of?

Just thought I'd leave this here [nytimes.com] for some laughs. :-)

You're not the first person to think of this (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876513)

If I'd come home from work and found my house was now a pile of rubble, how would I prove I lived there

Oddly enough I had a conversation with my parents a week or two where they said they'd paid off all but £100 of their mortgage years ago. I asked why they hadn't done the the last bit, and they said there was an arrangement with the bank: you keep £100 on the mortgage indefinitely, pay interest on that and in return they keep all of the deeds and other paperwork related to the house in a safe, off-site location. As long as you have photo ID and a bank card to prove you're their customer (you carry your driving license and bank card around, right?) you can then still get hold of the deeds no matter what happens to your house.

My Dad also gets a bit paranoid about this sort of thing, so when they travel they make up a "disaster kit": copies of all important data and documents, contacts, etc. on a USB drive and given to one of us kids.

Like others have said, off-site storage if you're paranoid.

Re:You're not the first person to think of this (3, Insightful)

RandomFactor (22447) | about 3 months ago | (#46876759)

And in return they retain a lean on the property. I'm not sure how but I suspect that every now and then this works out in the bank's favor dramatically somehow...

Re:You're not the first person to think of this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876863)

Exactly, I would rather pay for their box service than them have the deeds to my home in THEIR name.

Whilst you are still in DEBT with that INFINITE £100 morgage, they can use YOUR home as COLLATERAL for debts, and selling YOUR DEBT on for profit and printing MORE MONEY resulting in MORE INFLATION which means YOUR MONEY has LESS VALUE.

Best to pay off your morgage ASAP.

UK Law has changed on house deeds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876857)

The Land Registry is now the official record of who owns your house, not the deeds - so your parents can safely pay off the last £100. They'll probably then find that the bank has destroyed their deeds - they seem to have destroyed ours, which considering they were a historical record older than the USA is a damn shame.
We keep a spare key and a few other bits at our son's house - and he does the same with us. As we're 50 miles apart we reckon that's safe enough for anything reasonable. An incident big enough to destroy both would probably leave us not worrying too much about the insurance etc.

Simple - Backup to Digital (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876515)

Scan all your important documents and they'll be automatically backed up with the rest of your digital things. After your house is destroyed, go to your local library, access your digital copy, and print off new unofficial documents. You should be able to use those to boot-strap getting new records. You'll need proof of address (utility bill), SSN card, and birth certificate.

Why do you need a space phone (and hopefully a charger?) and house key? Buying a pre-paid phone isn't difficult and you should be able to live without a mobile phone. Pay phones do exist and most companies have 1-800 numbers. The spare house key isn't too useful in a random field. If your house is destroyed the key no longer matters. If you lose your key you can break in or call for a lock-picker. I'd recommend storing your space key in the car compared to the field. Will you always have some way to dig it up? If you can easily dig it up with your hands then you didn't hide it well enough. If you always have a shovel on you, you might as well switch the shovel for the keys.

Unless you have non-standard medical beliefs you don't need to keep ICE data on you at all times. Keeping it in your wallet and/or cell phone is best. If someone searches your wallet for ICE info and doesn't find it, they're not going to search the rest of your pockets. They're going to deal with the current emergency first. If you die, someone will eventually notice. There's little reason for the police to call your sister, who lives half a country away, 7 minutes after you die.

If you left your phone at your office, go back and get it. You have your office id else you wouldn't have been working that day anyway. Sleep in your office or sleep in your car. Really, the most important thing you need to do right now is calm down and relax. Then next thing to do is learn how to think and understand that life isn't always perfectly pleasant. A few rough days (and weeks) shouldn't harm you.

Smoldering lock (4, Funny)

nospam007 (722110) | about 3 months ago | (#46876519)

If the lock is smoldering that doesn't matter. Your house is a pile of rubble, you can get into that from 5 directions.

You need a weapons cache in a different field, fake IDs in another one, foreign money in still a different one, a few other houses in different locations, summer homes in different countries.
A numbered account in Switzerland an the Caiman's, you can store paper copies in your planes and yachts.
Hide a tele-operated submarine with copies and money somewhere an install a hidden fortress in the arctic.

That should do it.

Or just store copies of your personal papers at a friend's.

Re:Smoldering lock (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876581)

Or just store copies of your personal papers at a friend's.

Really? You think someone asking that kind of questions has any?

Re:Smoldering lock (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46877203)

You can be faster out of friends than you think. Read news and watch how politics work.

Re:Smoldering lock (1)

Vitriol+Angst (458300) | about 3 months ago | (#46877215)

That seems like a lot of bother.

All you need is your important stuff in a pocket dimension which you access with your bag of holding and portal ring. You can escape by jumping in the pocket dimension and finding an exit in another location.

tin foil hat (4, Funny)

photonic (584757) | about 3 months ago | (#46876531)

Since having this nightmare, I've exported my phone's VCF file to an online repo, made online notes of all my bank account numbers and passport ID, I keep ICE numbers with me at all times (separate from phone/wallet), and I've hidden a spare mobile phone and house key in a box in a nearby field. But there must be more to do!

I think the only thing left to do is buying loads of a aluminium foil.

Re:tin foil hat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876677)

I think the only thing left to do is buying loads of a aluminium foil.

But what if it turns out aluminum really does cause alzheimer's, and I forget which field I hit my phone in?

Re:tin foil hat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876923)

I think the only thing left to do is buying loads of a aluminium foil.

But what if it turns out aluminum really does cause alzheimer's, and I forget which field I hit my phone in?

That's why the best use tin foil, duh!

I'll just leave this here..... (1)

pslytely psycho (1699190) | about 3 months ago | (#46876537)

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=paranoid&FORM=VIRE3#view=detail&mid=97EE3F3AAA55F2E7A8BC97EE3F3AAA55F2E7A8BC

Re: I'll just leave this here..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876729)

Is this someone from Microsoft trying to get people to boost Bing's click counts?

Encrypted? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876549)

made online notes of all my bank account numbers and passport ID

I just hope you put this up encrypted with a key you have on a thumbdrive you keep on your person at all times...

Scan everything (3, Interesting)

Sockatume (732728) | about 3 months ago | (#46876567)

Quite aside from your important personal documents, it's good practice to keep scanned copies of every bit of potentially-useful correspondence, and throw them in a Dropbox. The sizes aren't huge even for passable quality. If you have - or have access to - a good sheet-feed scanner, it's not even a particularly arduous process. These days I have a rolling two-year buffer of things like utility bills; each month the new one goes through the scanner, and the oldest one goes through the shredder.

Well, when I can be bothered, but you know what I'm getting at.

Seek professional help (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876589)

You worry too much. Seek professional help. And by "professional help" I don't mean "computer expert".

Lastpass (2)

lemur3 (997863) | about 3 months ago | (#46876615)

While it's not the best idea to keep all your eggs in one basket, Lastpass (a firefox, chrome, opera addon, plus a standalone app) is an OK way to store this kind of data.

It is all encrypted/decrypted locally .and then uploaded to the DREADED cloud! ...the lastpass folks never have access to your data.. so theres nothing to 'steal'..

While primarily a place to keep your passwords it does have a handy feature for what they call Secure Notes, with premade forms to filling out all of your personal private info, allowing pictures/scans to be added.

and... while that might be creepy for uploading to Facebook..... with lastpass they cannot decrypt the data, because they dont have your password and cant change it if you 'forgot' it..... because it was all encrypted before even being sent to them...including your password..

then you export a copy of the encrypted database, upload it all over the place in various email accounts, put it in safe deposit boxes on DVDs and flash drives..all stored with a copy of the standalone app that will show you the data, so even if the internet explodes too, youll be good to go!

hollywood (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876647)

Is this a treatment for a new cheesey TV pilot?

Commit a crime (1)

CeasedCaring (1527717) | about 3 months ago | (#46876669)

The police will then be able to ID you at all times via fingerprint, DNA & facial recognition.

Not to worry... (3, Funny)

NoKaOi (1415755) | about 3 months ago | (#46876687)

Facebook and the NSA know what you look like, and Google can identify you by your browsing habits.

For insurance purposes, take pictures (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 3 months ago | (#46876751)

This is especially important if your homeowner's insurance covers the contents (which it ought to.) Take digital pictures of anything major of value you will need replaced. Appliances, television, computers, furniture, rare musical instruments, etc. Then store them online someplace. That way, when you go to file an insurance claim, you have evidence to back up the dollar value of the things you will need to fully rebuild. Otherwise they're just gonna cut you a check for a couple thousand in addition to the tax value of your house.

The lottery winner problem (2)

jeffasselin (566598) | about 3 months ago | (#46876753)

Planning for such an event is like planning for winning the lottery: it is almost certain will win the lottery, and it's almost certain it won't be you.

Likewise, such catastrophic events happen to someone sometimes, but you don't have to worry about it happening to you. Really. Stop worrying so much.

If you live in a tornado-targeted area, you should prepare for a tornado to hit your house.

If you live in a flood area, prepare for a flood.

It's all about statistics and the Bernoulli equation: examine the chance of something happening and the effect it could have on your life, and prepare for the events that pose a significant danger.

Safe (5, Insightful)

Jon Peterson (1443) | about 3 months ago | (#46876785)

An inexpensive fire-proof and waterproof safe will survive a gas explosion just fine.

But you are overestimating the importance of identity documents. A few sworn statements will have you up and running again in no time.

Yes, that is reasonable advice (1)

Wdi (142463) | about 3 months ago | (#46877233)

Any safe worth its money cannot be harmed by a simple gas explosion in the surrounding house, tornado, car crashing though the walls, etc. and if you have one or two hours of fire protection, that also covers the vast majority of house fires.

Are you taking the mickey out of us... (1)

Flytrap (939609) | about 3 months ago | (#46876795)

"...and I've hidden a spare mobile phone and house key in a box in a nearby field."

Is this for real or is this just for laughs... Are you really expecting such a massive catastrophe that none of your neighbours would have a phone... not even a passer-by... not even a fireman attending to the catastrophe!? Given the scenario you have just described... what would you use the hidden key for... "the smoldering (sic) lock" lying in a pile of ash?

I obsess over old family photographs that are yet to be digitised, certificates, awards, children's memorabilia, etc.... basically stuff that no amount of money or insurance could ever replace. Things like passports, identity documents, some data backups with bank and insurance details, etc. are in a fire proof safe... but I still do not have a solution for those bulky irreplaceable items.

Re:Are you taking the mickey out of us... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876843)

People don't know their neighbors in today's alienating society where everybody's on their fucking phone all day long.

Re:Are you taking the mickey out of us... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46877033)

People don't know their neighbors in today's alienating society where everybody's on their fucking phone all day long.

So who are they on the phone with? Oh, neighbors that live a bit farther away.

Re:Are you taking the mickey out of us... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876899)

"...and I've hidden a spare mobile phone and house key in a box in a nearby field."

... such a massive catastrophe that none of your neighbours would have a phone... not even a passer-by... not even a fireman attending to the catastrophe!?

If there was truly such a catastrophe, then you probably wouldn't be able to call anyone anyway, because of one of:
  - Everyone else is dead
  - The network is down
  - Your face is melting

Swiss Bank Safety Deposit Box (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876849)

I keep copies of everything in a Swiss vault, then I embedded a tiny device under my skin that projects the account number.
That way no matter what happens I should be sorted

N00B! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876905)

I've hidden a spare mobile phone and house key in a box in a nearby field.

What a n00b... I have "hidden" a spare house in a nearby field. Complete with spare IDs, passports, bank accounts, phones AND keys!

One backup needs to be away from your PC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46876961)

I think many people fail to keep a backup away from the original data. What good is a backup that burns up in a fire next to your computer?
Or have a tornado scatter your stuff in many directions. Keep a local backup for convenience and either use cloud or keep a copy in another safe location.
Cloud is obviously a simpler means of doing this. You also can buy some pretty large portable storage solutions which may be enough for personal data.
In the end I think people make the mistake of keeping a backup too close to the original data. A firebox is a good solution for personal documents and forms, and a scan of these stored in a safe place is a good ideal.

You couldn't hide even if you wanted to. (1)

geekmux (1040042) | about 3 months ago | (#46876985)

The scenario in which you describe is at a level of improbability equal to the chances of every system monitoring you also forgetting who you are.

In other words, calm down, because they'll open a Dairy Queen in Hades before that ever happens.

Buy a safe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46877009)

With a flood/fire rating. If you rent, get a small fire box and put any important documents in there. When my father's apartment complex suffered a fire he was the only one who still had his documents intact, for the most part. If you own your own home there is no reason to not have a safe in a secure location.

Still surprised at how few people do this now a days.

Photocopies in safe deposit box (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about 3 months ago | (#46877011)

Keep the photocopies in a sealed envelope so you know if someone has tampered with them ( if you're paranoid). If you're really paranoid, scan them and encrypt the files, store the files on three types of media (flash, optical, paper print out of the bytes) in your safe deposit box. If you're less paranoid, keep the originals at the bank. Presumably, you only need them when you have advanced notice and very rarely. The bank will have better fire/explosion mitigation.

Far more to backup (1)

gsslay (807818) | about 3 months ago | (#46877041)

You have forgotten to back up your DNA. What if you lose your arm physical data? Best put some spit and nail clippings in that box in the field.

Unfortunately, your DNA backup cannot store your memories. So you should upload your entire mind-state to the cloud, just in case of brain hardware failure. A spreadsheet on Office 365 would be the most convenient way of doing this.

Re:Far more to backup (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46877117)

Backup your DNA in the way God intended, by having children.

Well (2)

koan (80826) | about 3 months ago | (#46877135)

Safe deposit box or storage facility, copy of your passport, birth certificate and other data.

I keep a small water tight aluminium box with my passport, other records, several thousand in cash, some 1/10 ounce gold coins, a pocket pistol and a joint secure and ready to go.

You just never know.

Re:Well (1)

koan (80826) | about 3 months ago | (#46877157)

Photocopy

when you find out let me know (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46877167)

I have first hand experience of this. I had an apartment near to the office I occasionally worked from,
but my home/family was 160 miles away so I moved to working from home 100%.
My landlord (I think - cannot prove it) decided to torch my apartment (probably for the insurance)
before I could move all my stuff.
So I have my wallet, and expired UK passport (I'm a US resident alien)
but no birth certificate, degree certs, etc... I was keeping the family birth/death certs
there too - all the way back to the 18 century. :(

One thing I had saved was I had taken a bunch of photographs to the office and scanned them.
Most of them I still have.

Good luck.

Safety Deposit Box (1)

grub (11606) | about 3 months ago | (#46877169)


Some banks, like my own (TD Canada Trust), offer one for free if you keep a minimum balance in an account. That is where all our original documents go.

Duh, 3D scanning and printing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46877175)

Get a handheld 3D scanner to make backups of all your physical items and upload them to the cloud. If your house ever burns down, you can just download all your family heirlooms and print them out again.

Chicken or the egg. (1)

leuk_he (194174) | about 3 months ago | (#46877247)

What i have actually know of was the chicken or the egg problem. To get access to their bank account (after a robbery) people needed ID. But to get a new (emergency) ID, the town hall needed money to pay for that. Normally you would know someone to lent the money from, but this person did not have a very good reputation with paying people back.

I myself keep a (medium quality) copy of my drivers license in my car. If i ever get pulled over and forgot my paper i might get of with a warning if i can show the copy.

The value of friends and family is important in such cases.

Really... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46877253)

Thank god real isn't the internet.

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