Mayday! Mayday!

When heard over a radio, it’s a call for help. The term “MayDay” generally means some kind of disaster. I find it interesting that May Day – the day – is traditionally the day that cultural institutions and archives set aside to review and adjust their disaster plans. Here in Florida, the month of May is the time to review our personal disaster plans and prepare for hurricane season which begins the first of June.

In addition to checking our disaster supplies (batteries, non-perishable food, water, etc.) I also use May to review my digital disaster plan. Here are some of the things I review:

  • Data backups. I am set up for automatic backups, but it’s time to make sure any new data folders or other content is included.
  • Blog backups. Since I use WordPress, I use their export feature and download a complete copy of my sites every quarter.
  • Image backups. I have a Flickr Pro account ($50/year) which includes auto-uploading all new images on my desktop and mobile devices. It serves as my off-site backup for photos and scanned images. Those images are also stored on my desktop and an external hard drive.
  • Security check. I use 1Password to manage passwords and other personal data. It includes a security audit to let me know it’s time to update old passwords. The new Watchtower feature identifies the sites that have known vulnerabilities so I can change the passwords at those sites.
  • Power check. We use surge protectors and uninterruptible power supply (UPS) devices to protect our electronics. Now’s a good time to check them and replace older ones no longer operating at full capacity.

You may not have the threat of hurricane season to worry about, but there are plenty of disasters just waiting to destroy your research and historical documents. Make May Day your call to review your own disaster plan and insure your archives are also protected.

This article was originally published in 2016. It has been updated with current information.

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