Safeguarding your data while in transit can be harder than you think – especially if you have an emergency with which to deal. Don’t sing the blues if the unexpected occurs – find a way to take your data with you.
“Who says you can’t
take it with you? The crew!”
It seems like weekly there is a televised news story of passengers being evacuated from an airplane. No matter what the problem, if an emergency evacuation of a plane is ordered, you must leave behind any of your carry-on luggage stowed under the seat or in the overhead compartments. Unless you are careful, this also includes leaving your data behind.
If you are traveling to or from a destination with valuable data, you are likely to ensure that you have it stored multiple places. You may have a backup optical disk, a portable hard drive, a USB drive, and an internet copy – all in addition to the copy on your laptop. The problem most people have is that they store that extra copy in a brief case, checked luggage, (even worse – your laptop case) or a jacket pocket.
In an emergency, no one is going to allow you the grace of retrieving a bag from beneath the seat, overhead bin or the jacket the flight attendant so kindly closeted for you. Regardless of the nature of the emergency you will leave your possessions behind. After a successful evacuation it will be hours – maybe days before you recover your possessions. If something happens to your bag or the the plane, you might not ever see your data again.
Photographers who shoot on location are especially susceptible. The data store is often large in tens or even hundreds of gigabytes. The experiences and the images captured are often unique and unrepeatable. The good photographer is diligent about backing up the precious images but not as careful ensuring their safe arrival to the home destination. The airline crew and their very prudent evacuation procedures are unforgiving. They are designed to save everyone’s lives. All other concerns are secondary.
Thus: one copy of your data must be carried on your person. This means in a place which will not be severed from you in an emergency. A pants pocket is a good choice or a vest pocket if you wear one. The point is, it must be a garment that doesn’t leave your side. This way, in an evacuation, the data will tag along with no effort and no delay. You can leap onto that inflated slide with data confidence.
I go one step further and use a Ziploc™ double seal bag and a desiccant packet to encase my drive in a watertight container. Tucked into my vest or pants pocket, I am assured of carrying one set of data off the plane with me. My laptop may stay behind, my luggage may be lost, my jacket may never be reunited with its owner but my WD Passport drive will tag along with me. If I make it off the plane, my data will as well. Think back to flight 1549 that made an emergency landing in the Hudson river in January of 2009. The passengers made it off but the plane partially sank with their baggage and carry-ons. A small hard drive or USB drives in a sealed bag in a pocket might have saved the data day.
Your disaster might not be as dramatic as a crash landing in a river. Perhaps you are diverted to a smaller plane and your baggage won’t fit the tiny overhead. Maybe your plane has a mechanical problem and the baggage doesn’t get forwarded for days. Perhaps someone has the same colored bag in the overhead bin and makes off with yours by accident. Maybe the baggage claim is outside, in pouring rain. Whatever your travel woes, keeping your data on your person, protected, can ensure that you can take it with you.
Rikk Flohr © 2009