There are certain home disasters most of us would prefer not to think about. A house fire, a flood, or even a break-in are all some of a homeowner's worst fears. But being prepared for the worst is always the best choice in the long run.
One of the most important things people lose in home disasters are their vital documents. If your documents are lost in a fire it will take a lot of time and money to replace them all.
There are two main ways to insure the security of your documents: physically and electronically. However, neither method is 100% secured. Just as some safes can be broken, so can some electronic storage systems. In this article, we'll cover the documents you should secure and the latest and best ways to secure them.
What to secure
There are few things that are irreplaceable. Since most agencies you'll deal with in your life have your information backed up on their computer systems you probably can rest assured that your information is safe there. But for your own convenience and wallet, it's a good idea to secure the following documents and files:
- Social security cards
- Birth certificates
- Insurance papers
- Copies of wills
- Legal papers
- Vehicle titles
- Hard drive with family photos, home movies
- Medical information (doctors, prescriptions, etc.)
Buying a safe
Even if you tend to back up all of your documents in a secure place online, it's still a good idea to own a safe. Servers can crash and files can be hacked. Plus there are certain items that you can't back up online. Spare keys to your home, vehicles, and safety deposit boxes are all important items for your safe that won't take up much room. Similarly, family jewelry or heirlooms are also priceless additions that should fit nicely.
When buying a home safe there are a few things to consider. Safes can range from under a hundred dollars to several thousands of dollars depending on factors like their size and security capabilities. You should look for a safe within your budget that is both fire and water resistant, but is also a practical size. If you're only protecting some documents and keys, you won't need a huge safe that will be difficult to move if need be. A benefit of a large, heavy safe is that it becomes difficult to steal from your home to break open elsewhere.
Protecting your data digitally
There are two ways of digitally security your items. One option is to use a flash drive and then keep that flash drive in a safe place (why not in the new safe you just purchased?). The benefit of a flash drive is that they are small and can hold huge amounts of data--multiple years of tax papers, for example. For an added layer of security on your flash drive, buy one with encryption capability.
Encryption is a method of securing data by making the information unreadable to those without the key. There are several types of encryption and many ways of encrypting your data online.
Another, simpler option for securing your data online is to use cloud storage. Google Drive, iCloud, and Dropbox are all common cloud storage systems that incorporate encryption. However, not all cloud storage systems are created equally. Some are better for security, others are designed to be convenient and user-friendly.
Whichever storage service you decide to use, it's important to be smart with your passwords. Make them complex, unique, and change them frequently to ensure the safety of your data.