We talk all the time about prepping and what you need to survive TEOTWAWKI. By now there is a lot of information out there that you should be soaking up like a sponge. Survival, however, can mean a lot more than stockpiling food and ammunition. It goes beyond having shelter and transportation. Even if we are sent back in time with a worldwide catastrophic event, there is something more that we will need, and that something is data.
Think about all of the things you use your personal computer to accomplish. You shop online. You pay bills online. You correspond with other preppers. Technology has become an important part of our way of life. Even if you have resisted change and use it minimally, odds are good that you still use it. We save pictures on our computers. We save documents, such as income taxes, to our computers. Some of us even scan documents into our computers for safe-keeping. It is handy to have everything stored in one convenient place, that place being your computer. If your house was on fire, what three things would you grab as you ran out the door? I am willing to bet the computer would be one of them. I know it is one of mine.
With that in mind, what happens when the time comes that your computer no longer works? I am not talking about a lack of internet or power source. I am talking about what if it was something caused your system to crash, resulting in a loss of all things important to you. Sure, systems crash all the time. It has happened and will happen to the best of us. Hopefully you have an external drive ready to go that possesses a current image of the documents stored on your hard drive. I am not talking about a spontaneous crash, however. What if it is something bigger, like the removal of support for your operating system. What then?
Microsoft is doing away with all forms of support for Windows XP. That may not seem like a huge deal, but what if you are one of the 20+% of computer users still depending on XP? How is your computer, or your data, to survive the eradication of support for your operating system? What if the computer SHTF?
Start taking precautions now. Undoubtedly this is an attempt to force upgrades (IF upgrading is possible-this will depend on your RAM, system requirements, and even screen resolution) or purchases of new machines and sadly the 20+% might have to bend to that plan of action. However, this also serves as a lesson for the rest of us as well. Do not be dependent upon tech support to access your important data. To some extent, there is always the possibility of needing help, but the fact remains that help may not always be there. Whether it is because Microsoft phases out your operating system or because of an apocalyptic event, there is going to come a time where you must have salvage plans in place for the data in your life as well as an option to function without it.
While purchasing a new computer and moving your data over will save you from the end of the XP world as we know it, a backup should always be in place. External drives and jump drives are your best option. CD-R/DVD-R backups are better than nothing but still have limits; manufacturers may claim a lengthy life span with a million read cycles, but don't put all your eggs in one basket when it comes to such promises. I personally have seen CD-Rs and DVD-Rs fail after just two years. It all depends on your storage capabilities in the uncertain times we face, it is possible to fail at safeguarding and properly storing CD-Rs.
If you run Windows XP, you have until April to get it up to snuff with the help of Microsoft before the time comes to kiss it good-bye. Take advantage of the time you have left to be sure everything you need will carry on with you into the days when tech support will no longer exists. Survival means a lot of things to a lot of people, and data is another one of those very important things that should also be preserved as we move towards an uncertain future.