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Readers Respond: Tips on Earthquake-Protecting Your Computer and Data

Responses: 6


Without a warning, earthquakes interrupt everything you're doing. What will happen if you're there? What if you're asleep, or away? There are many different ways—equipment, services, practices and more—to help protect your computer and its data from earthquake damage and losses.

Get a shock-proof backup disk

Nowadays there are shock-proof hard drives available. Recently, in a BBC program, one was tested by tying it to a car in motion. Even after some hundred meters of bumping on the street it still worked. I guess these drives are sturdy enough to withstand earthquakes as well.
—Guest Jelle

Use Online Backup/Syncing Services

Usually what's most important and valuable to people about computers is the data that's stored on them, not the hardware (which is easily replaceable). Offsite storage using an online backup service or a syncing service that mirrors your data automatically can give you peace of mind.
—Guest melaniep

Non-slip Shelf/Drawer Liner

We're in San Francisco... Rolls of very inexpensive "non-slip shelf/drawer liner" are sold on Amazon and in Ace Hardware and other stores. It's a soft plastic web material, nearly "sticky" but not, which clings to both the surface and anything on it. Many quakes ago we lined all our shelves with it. In the kitchen, particularly, those high storage shelves: that "flinging" motion whips those non-latched cabinet doors open, and all the heavy & precious & dangerous-if-shattered stuff gets flung to the floor, and onto any heads that happen to be below. Stored dish sets and other stackables, and glassware(!): we cut the non-slip into small squares and place one on each dish, so the stack doesn't shift & fall. Works for CDs, too, also electronics equipment, computers & printers etc. on desktops, heavy suitcases etc. stored on high closet shelves, and all bookshelves. Easy to dust & vacuum & even wash. Does not degrade fast -- ours has lasted 20 years. Great stuff, those rolls of non-slip.
—Guest Jack Kessler

External data storage

1000+ GIG external drives cost a pittance now compared with trying to recover months or years worth of data. A couple of hundred dollars will get you a terabyte of storage that unplugs in seconds and can be kept in a safe location....back up regularly and the rest of the computer is easily replaced.
—Guest tim

Secure Furniture to the Wall

I grew up in southern California. My parents have secured every large piece of furniture they have to the walls of their home so nothing tips over. Adding drawer locks (the baby kind) to file cabinets and cupboards will ensure that a quake won't fling items out onto the (possibly wet) floor. My father has his computer on a non-skidding surface on his desk, too - this should, in theory, help keep it from flying onto the floor. Remember that earthquake waves push things forward/sideways as well as up and down, so there's kind of a horizontal "flinging" motion involved if a strong quake occurs. You need to protect your equipment against that as well as an up-and-down or sine wave motion.
—Guest Nancy

Get a UPS

An uninterruptible power supply or UPS will keep your machine going when the power fails. It gives you time to save work, do a backup to a portable drive and power down. You can charge your phone with it. A UPS gives peace of mind. I don't know why I waited so long to get mine, and it also conditions my power supply from surges and brownouts. It's already saved me from hassles and I haven't had an earthquake yet.

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