161123 Security Update - matthew piers robertson • photography writing creative toronto

My data storage woes are almost behind me. I was able to recover all but about 1500 photos from the time when my hard drive skipped a beat. That's suboptimal, but so much better than what I was fearing, so I'll take it.

My backup structure is proceeding pretty much exactly as I want it to, and by this weekend I'll have added a couple of capacious flash drives to use for offline and offsite storage of my most important work. In a nutshell, my system now involves three tiers of bulk data storage, with backups, plus the extra sets of the most important files. Simple. It's done across ten volumes using thirteen physical disks giving twenty-five terabytes of storage. And three USB keys. 

Excessive? I hope so. A major investment? Absolutely. Worth it? 

All of this time and effort for data security at home, plus some other changes in the world over the past few weeks, has had me expand my horizons somewhat. I've been looking for alternatives to having email services through large American data-aggregating companies for some time now. I deleted my Yahoo account after their last own-goal data breach, and now I'm getting away from the big one that rhymes with Oogle.

My email is now all through Protonmail, a Swiss upstart that really enjoys encryption. It offers accounts for free at its own domain, which is worth having, although I've signed up for their paid level that gives me multiple addresses and use my own domain name. I've set up four accounts for various purposes, so I don't even need to use the insecure aggregators for newsletters or other throwaway tasks.

Of course changing accounts isn't trivial, and many of my least-used accounts are likely to just be abandoned. But the important ones are already done. And there's probably no harm in telling anyone who's read this far that mail-at-matthewpiers-dot-com is my personal email address once again.

And with Ice Storm season approaching again I'm finally taking care of some physical safety and comfort preparations as well. Mostly this means a dramatic – possibly over-dramatic – increase in storing water, along with having candles, flashlights, and lots of batteries available. My priorities, in order: being able to flush the toilet, make tea, keep our phones online, have light, stay warm, and cook simple foods. The first few are all I'm worried about for the first six or eight hours of a power failure, which is the longest I've been through after almost a decade in my current home, but being able to withstand something worse doesn't take all that much more effort.

Besides, it involves and justifies gadgets like candle lanterns and flashlights and power banks. What's not to like about that? 


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