Protecting your digital survival library

This is a guest post and entry in our non-fiction writing contest  by Patton

There are so many things that a prepper has to consider and things to do that it is, at times, very overwhelming. One of the most important considerations is being able to learn new skill-sets and try to find and absorb all the information needed for these skills. With everything to consider, it is nearly impossible to do. Blogs like this and other related websites are very useful tools when gathering and compiling useful and much needed information, however the ability to readily archive all of the vast amounts of useful information can be a daunting task.

As you know, there are literally thousands of useful PDF documents and other information that can be easily downloaded, or “copied and pasted” from web text and make into your own MS WORD or PDF documents. All great stuff, but the question is, “How to save it all?” I would like to offer for your consideration some very easy ways to preserve all of this useful information you acquire so that in a SHTF or TEOTWAWKI scenario it can be readily available to you.

So what I do is gather all of my documents, photos and videos and place them onto thumb drives and other devices. With a single 16gb or larger thumb drive, you can store a ton of documents, photos, videos etc. to reference when you need it. But there are also some other ways that we can also consider to store this information, and more importantly, to protect it.

I first compile my “Library” into a file on my desktop PC. I add new information as I find it. As I said before, there are literally thousands of free .pdf’ documents out there that cover almost every aspect and subject of prepping. I have my information documents categorized in sub-folders with topics such as Gardening; weapons manuals; food storage recipes; recipes; medical references; Water, Solar, Heating, Power; Shelters, etc. Every so often I transfer this “Library” (with all the sub-topic file categories) onto a thumb drive, and then also transfer this onto each one of my two laptops. One of these laptops (which I bought dirt cheap on eBay) acts as my ‘dedicated’ survival laptop.

I keep this laptop in a large Mylar bag and stored in a grounded galvanized trash can with other electronic devices such as two-way radios, batteries, portable radios etc, that need to be protected from the possibility of EMP. I do the same with thumb drives. Just place them into a small Mylar bag and then stick them into an empty metal Altoids mint can. There you go, portable and protected. I always keep one of these Altoid can protected thumb drives in my “go bag” and another thumb drive attached to my key chain. You can even store another extra one in your hidden cache. I also back it up onto an external hard drive. The more backup modes and methods the better.

Another way to not only store your compiled survival library, as well as to get other useful information, is by using an iPod or other similar device (Blackberry, Droid ) to download useful apps which can be used without internet access. I’ve found lots of great (and free) apps on everything from knot tying, first aid, morse code and many more.. I have a 2nd generation 32 GB iPod Touch that can also be used to backup and store my “Library” by utilizing an app called “Folders” that permits the user to transfer PDF, Word, Excel, PPT documents and photos via wireless internet from any PC or MAC computer to store and view later on my iPod Touch. With the Folder app you can create or edit documents and import files directly from the web. It also has built-in unzipping features that allow you to transfer a large number of files in ZIP format onto your device and then unzip them. It’s a great tool. Older generation iPod Touch or other similar devices are easily found on eBay for a fraction of the cost of a brand new one.

So now let’s briefly consider some of the methods that you can power up your laptops, PC, iPod or other electronic library storage devices, especially during a short or long term “grid down” situation. Since thumb drives don’t need power unless they are plugged into your laptop or PC, they only need to be protected and readily available. Laptops can be powered up and/or recharged in several ways: via a generator, a 12 volt solar system with batteries and an 110 volt invertor, or a “cigarette lighter style” laptop power cord adaptor that can be used via a automobile lighter plug in adaptor.

There are also very cheap (but very reliable) adjustable voltage transformers with multi-device prong sets (including a USB prong) included that can be found on eBay which can be plugged in a car lighter battery connection and used to recharge or power your laptop, iPod or other device. I found a nice one on eBay for less than $10. You can also find many very good small solar cell rechargers on eBay (some less than $10) that can be used in a pinch to recharge small devices like cell phones, Blackberry, Droid or iPods. These also come with a variety of adaptors for portable electronic devices. You should also consider buying some extra laptop batteries and carefully store them in your EMP proof storage area..

The key thing to always remember is to have several (always updated) backups of your information library and to keep them protected from the possibility of EMP. The best (and safest) method to store and update your “Library” is to burn it to either a rewritable CD-RW or DVD-RW disk. Disks are safe from EMP, easily portable and storable.

One other consideration in a SHTF or TEOTWAWKI situation is communications and the sharing, transfer and retrieval of information. One of the coolest things I discovered is what is referred to as “Dead Drops.” OPSEC is always a consideration, and the use of “Dead Drops” (implanted thumb drives hidden in various strategic locations) can be used to transfer vital information between people and /or groups. You can learn more about using thumb drive “Dead Drop” locations on the web at

It is said that “Knowledge is wealth.” You are going to need all the knowledge that you can get when the SHTF. Having critical information available at your fingertips not only can make things easier, it can potentially save your life. So get your survival library together while there is still an internet, and then safely store it for the eventuality that we all know is coming.

This is an entry in our non-fiction writing contest where you could win:

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. Personally, I like to save all such documents on my phone (droid 3 currently) It can readily read pdfs, etc. Its always with me so effectively becomes part of my EDC. I have a crank radio that can also charge the phone so no dependence on another electricity source.

    I also have an app called Inkpad. It syncs to a web site called so I can copy notes back and forth, and its free.

    • SickSkilz,

      I also have two of the hand crank / solar radios you mention. However with moving parts (the crank) there is always the possibility of breakage. I have found the small solar rechargers available on ebay for about $10 that work well. No moving parts and easily transportable.

      I’m glad that you can store info on your Droid. I am not familiar with them, nor do I carry a cell phone due to OPSEC. The older generation IPod Touch (2nd gen with 32gb) that I use has no phone or built -in RFID tracking devices, so OPSEC is maximized. Technology is a two-sided sword.


      • Patton,

        I’m confused. I just checked the iPod Touch 2nd gen on Amazon.

        The write up states: “Find your location and get directions with Google Maps.”

        Here’s the full description: “Find Yourself … iPod touch finds your location using known Wi-Fi hotspots. It also finds points of interest by keyword: Search for ‘coffee’ and iPod touch shows you every cafe nearby.”

        I’m not so sure I could be invisible as long as the iPod could triangulate my location.

        Am I wrong?

        • Bmerry,
          Well, it can only roughly triangulate you without gps. It can triangulate you with the towers but at best down to a quarter mile. Turn off gps and wifi (or just put in airplain mode) and there is basically nothing that can track you.

          • MtWoman (N Texas) says:

            Josh…where does ‘wireless’ come from if not a tower?

          • MtWoman,
            Wireless as in WiFi comes from a wireless access point run in a local home or business. I run two of them and like all of the ones I know about, mine do not involve towers. In my case they sit on top of a computer rack in my second floor office, and have a range of about a 200 foot radius. Many restaurants like McDonalds and Starbucks also have these for use by their patrons, and again, with no towers involved. The access points can be purchased for as little as $20 and are both simple to install and ubiquitous.

          • MtWoman (N Texas) says:

            OP…how does the WiFi get into the places (home, restaurant, etc.? Cable?

          • MtWoman,
            You install a wireless router/access point, provide it with power, configure it, and connect it to your internet service provider. Internally this is generally via Ethernet cable, but the provider may be Cable, DSL, Fiber Optic, Wireless, or even via a dial up modem.

          • Hunker-Down says:


            Our setup is a little different than OhioPrepers’.
            The service enters our home via cable. A router is wired to the cable input, but the output of the router is wireless to the pc’s and printers. The cable was plowed into the ground from the street to our house with a machine that looked like a 6 foot tall sewing machine.

            We had a different service provider prior to the cable, it was satellite. Satellite service requires an antenna about the size of a T/V antenna, ours was on the roof because trees blocked the signal from the satellite. We ditched it when the roof was replaced. We moved to cable because any thunderstorm or snowstorm with heavy cloud cover shut down our access to the satellite.

        • PATTON**** says:


          You can use the settings to shut off your location tracking and/or wi-fi network access. If you do decide to use it for internet access, turn on do it FAR AWAY from your retreat location to maintain OPSEC.

          In the context of the article I wrote, I use my iPod 2nd gen as a data storage device, rather than an internet access device.


      • Patton,

        My crank radio does have a solar backup and I also have 3 other crank flashlights. So I could swap parts if something broke. But certainly a good point that for everything that you really need, you need redundancy.

    • Great post. I use an IPAD for the same purose. Any Android tablet would work as well. I like your comments about EMP and a flash drive. I like a tablet because of the lower power requirements. You can store all of your info in one place (with a backup) and the tablet allows you to view documents and videos. Many tablets DO have cellular and can not be used as phones. Make sure to turn off the cellular radio if concerned about location tracking. Locations are trackable with wireless but you have to be connected. You can also turn off wireless radios. Your position is located using the access through your ISP. (supplies the internet access your wifi access point is connected through) I can charge my IPAD using betteries through an adapter, hand crank on my emergency radio and several low cost USB solar chargers. Allways remember 2 is one and one is none!

  2. Great article, thank you. I print all my information for the same reason. Do you have an older vehicle that would survive an EMP?

    I mostly wanted to comment here because I wanted to let you all know how God is taking care of me. I’m socking away food, etc, but my well was a big worry because no electricity (EMP), no water – as I found out one winter when we got an unusual amount of snow for the area, and had no power for 5 days. I had been looking at those 275 gallon containers for storing water, but at $100 each – well, that’s a lot of food.

    However, my mom recently met an old friend who is also preparing for the worst, and she has a friend who works for a vitamin company and they get those big containers full of vitamins and herbal preparations and give them to her. I got a call yesterday afternoon to come and pick up 2 of them – for just the cost of my gas to get there! I’ll still need a few more, but was told I should have more within a week or two.

    Is God good or what????

    • Lint Picker (Northern California) says:

      Wow, Michele, that’s great. Yes, God does provide. Right now, I wish he’d provide a pizza.

  3. Hey Michele……..I myself am not a practicing Christian however I am cut from the spiritual cloth (so to speak!). I am well prepared and ready to go NOW if the situation demanded it, however; I am in no way, shape or form going to trust my life and prepping to the part of me that believes there are powers bigger than all of us at work!

    Anyway……if ,say, during any TEOTWAWKI scenario do you not think that God would step in and Rapture your ass up to Heaven? Just curious——-I have puit these points to many Christian preppers who (as of yet) have not answered me convincingly enough. F

    • or example….if you believe so strongly in God…….why prep at all? Your faith should be enough for you to know that he will take care of you by ‘rapturing’ you and yours off of Earth!
      Anyway……everyone to their own. I just know there are bigger forces at play but I aint no way gonna trust my spiritual beliefs (whatever they may be) to the saving of my life!
      Thank you,

      • Mikey,

        I am not a Christian, been there, done that AND have the t-shirt. I am “spiritual but not religious”. However, I believe strongly in God (whatever you perceive God to be), and am always grateful for all the wonderful things that come my way.

        I obviously believe in taking care of me and mine (and trying to store enough to keep my neighbors going as well). I’m a real, though mostly broke prepper, doing it alone with only one income and a big mortgage payment.

        Gratitude, whatever your beliefs, is good for you.

      • Those who don’t value the Bible won’t like the fact I’m going to refer to it’s stories, but there are still valuable insights we can take to heart from them. For example, Joseph stored up grain in preparation for a coming famine in Egypt and it was because of his efforts that people survived. In another story, Noah built a boat in preparation for a flood and his family was able to survive as a result. Just saying, I believe being prepared is a Biblical concept we are supposed to follow and that advice is good for everyone regardless if they believe in the Bible or not.
        When it appears obvious that a certain kind of calamity might be coming then it simply makes logical sense to prepare for it even when we aren’t exactly sure when it is going to happen.

        So far as the Rapture event is concerned, that is also an event which is supposed to happen but at a time we cannot predict. Since we don’t know what calamities will happen between now and then it makes sense we need to be prepared for a number of different scenarios. The best case scenario is having preparations and not needing them at all, but we would be wise to make preps to deal with all of the other kinds of scenarios.

        Back to the original topic, I do worry about relying too much on electronic devices. Even rechargeable batteries eventually die while accidental breakage can destroy my access to an entire library of PDF files. I think it’s a good idea to have your library in electronic form such as a flash drive, iPod, or stored online, but there is something to be said about keeping old-fashioned books as a backup too.

      • SrvivlSally says:

        Until the rapture happens, every human being, even all of us STUUUUPID Christians, are going to have to follow the example of Egypt and PREP! Okay, now, if you would look in the Holy Bible, the King James version, it says, in Jude 18, How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time…and in 2 Peter 3:3, Knowing this first, that there shall come IN THE LAST DAYS scoffers… That means that Jesus is about to return. Mikey, the bible says that those who do not have our Father, Jesus, God’s only way to Salvation, as the good book says, are bastards. It is not too late for you to repent which means to turn from all manner of evil and seek God’s forgiveness. (We) are to pray for our enemies.

        • SrvivlSally says:

          While Jesus, also known as Yeshua, was pierced through each hand and both feet, one on top of the other, with horrible nails, whereas he was attached to a ground implanted cross, people stood around and said to him, to about this effect, where is your God? Why don’t you have him come and help you? He must have abandoned you. While they spoke their words of scoffing, they wagged their chins left to right. You, Mikey, are one such individual exactly like those which scoffed and mocked back then. One day, you may regret being left behind because the tribulation, and the Great tribulation, are on their way at this very moment. Matthew 24:3-14 will give you an idea of what is going on and what to look for. And, Jesus also says in 24:42, Watch therefore: for you know not what hour (Jesus) will come. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye…

          • I am prepping for Mikey…………who knows, I may be gone and perhaps he will then know that prepping just for ourselves is not the answer. He may be here still and be highly in need of what I have left behind to help him with. By the way, I have a box of Bibles in my prepping supplies…just for this reason. I don’t begin to know God’s will and when or where ever the rapture might be. But at the moment it only takes a moment to understand that whether the Rapture is beginning or not……..the world as we know it is changing and not for the better.

    • “…do you not think that God would step in and Rapture your ass up to Heaven?…”
      Absolutely not, Mikey, and no where does the Bible say He will, nor do any honest Christians expect Him to.
      You haven’t put these questions to very many Christian preppers since you (as of now) are still asking fool questions, and certainly aren’t ‘cut from spiritual cloth’.
      As for prepping- if you knew anything about God or Christian beliefs, you’d know that both God and Christ have encouraged preparation for uncertain times.
      I know there are many here who believe, but this is MD’s site and not the place to be haranguing people about their Faith or starting flame wars over your atheistic beliefs.
      So I’ll drop this now.

    • There is a simple rule to follow that covers all of these cases. Pray as if everything depends on God; but, Work as if everything depends on You.

  4. Prepping for a disaster is not necessarily the same as prepping to attempt to survive the literal end of the world. There are many disasters that have happenned that would warrent prepping. Every year it seems there is something in the US alone where people are without power for a week. I believe that God calls us to be prepared for whatever comes and prepared to help out fellow man when it happens.

  5. I don’t want to get in any religious back and fourths or anything like that..I find religion is a lot like politics. Everyone has their own opinions and beliefs on the subject. But just to let you know the bible is filled with information on famines and disasters. (God gives his people the tools needed to survive, it is up to the people to use those tools)
    The interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream told of a seven year famine that was about to come upon the whole world. It also told of a seven year period of abundance and prosperity that would immediately precede the famine. Joseph was given the responsibility to gather grain during this seven year agricultural boom as a savings account against the prophesied seven years of severe famine.
    Anyway back to the post, I am very motivated and really excited to put these tips into action. I think I am going to stash all of my prepper library with my emergency seeds. Thank you so much for your article.

  6. Annie Nonymous says:

    National weather service put out an alert that a horrific storm was coming… that a breach of the local dam could occur, and people should consider evacuating. Ol’ Bob said, “Not gonna worry about it, I have faith in God, and He will save me.”

    Storm happens… dam is filling… Sheriff comes door to door, telling people pto pack and bug. Bob sez… “Nope, I ain’t gonna leave, I have faith in God, and He’ll save me.”

    Dam starts to overflow… water up to the windows in ol’ Bob’s house… guy in a boat comes by, says “You better get out NOW while you got a chance… Ol Bob says, Nope, I believe in God, and He will save me.”

    Dam is releasing as fast as it can, now water’s up to the rafters, Ol’ Bob is on the roof, and a helecopter comes by, sees Ol’ Bob, lowers a ladder and tells him to get on Now, the dam is breaking… Bob yells back while waving them off, “Nope, I believe in God, and He will save me.”

    The dam breaks, the wall of water hits the house,w ashing it downstream. Bob, needless to say, is not in an intake Interview with the Almighty. He says, “God, I never lost faith, I always belived you would save me, so why am I here?”

    God looks at Bob, says… “Oh you silly, silly human… Who do you think had you turn on the Weather Radio, and sent out the Sheriff, the guys in the boat and the helecopter?”

  7. Annie Nonymous says:

    By the way… thank you for the awesome article! I was just thinking about this – My digital library is in PDFs on my iPad… and backed up on my laptop I have been thinking of “EMP-proofing” my computer bag, tho not sure how to do this and keep it light enough to actually use… Looking at the Microwave, would a metal gridwork similar to the one in the door window (well interconneted, soldered together, and enclosing the “computer” part of the bag, etc) be sufficient, or does the electronics have to be in a metal can structure? Also, post-event… I was wondering if the EMP-proof containmnet would have to be discharged to geound before you opened it? I have heard of capacitance build up and that it could still wipe your e-devices if not bled off… Any info, ideas, clues? TIA… Annie

    • Annie Nonymous,
      Building a portable faraday cage in a computer bag would be possible but difficult, and the only way to ensure protection is a solid metal box with no seams or holes. Keeping mind also that if you are unlucky enough to have the EMP occur at the same time the box is open, then it provides no real protection.
      As for discharge, most faraday cages do not have enough capacitance to hold a charge for any length of time; although it is possible for one to receive a shock if you are touching a faraday cage during the event.

  8. Great ideas, every one. Thanks for sharing.

  9. SrvivlSally says:

    Patton, great ideas! Nice article. Thanks.

  10. TxgalinPNW says:

    I have a question: What is going to happen to your Digital Library if we loose Electrical power all together?. Meaning the power grid is down completely and your generator just ran out of fuel -either gas or disel. And it is so cloudy the solar charges are not working. No fuel to charge the car batteries.
    Think worst case situtation and then start planing from there; instead of planning backwards. Better prepared than sorry.
    Yes, I know about wind and water power; but you have to be in the right place with the right equipment to build a wind or water generator and you had better have some experience with electricty.
    All of the above has lead me to gather a lot of notebooks – one for each subject and sometime more than one for a subject – and started printing off the most important informtaion first. Of course that will be different for everyone; but I chose medical first because if you are not whole you are not going to survive.
    Don’t get me wrong , everyone has a different take on our power situtation and will prepare accordingly. Just don’t dismiss all other ways to prep you Library.

    • A better Ragnarok-proofing would be to use paper in addition to the lighter-to-carry digital library. (Under the right circumstances, you would be snowed-in and wouldn’t want to burn anymore calories than what it takes to hand-copy your digital survival library onto paper.)

      When I was talking about saving my data, it’s mostly stuff that I would miss sentimentally and wouldn’t really need until the power came back on.

    • PATTON**** says:

      Power supply is one aspect of your preps that is a must for consideration. I understand your concern, and it is valid, however it’s not (directly) relevant to the topic that I wrote about. As I mentioned, there are hand crank / solar radios with the ability to be used with USB devices to recharge them. Unless your crank radio device (or hand) is broken, there is one option that in a pinch may do the trick. There are even old army surplus hand crank radio generators that can be used to produce current. A solar cell WILL pick up UV sunlight energy (albeit slower if cloudy), and Altoid can sized solar cell with USB can be used in a pinch – that is unless we have experience a massive volcanic eruption (Yellowstone Caldera) that pretty much covers the entire Earth atmosphere in a massive cloud of dust. In that case, we can pretty much kiss our butts goodbye. We can only do the best that we can to prepare for the worst. Where there is a will there is a way.


    • TxgalinPNW,
      Long before my generators run out of fuel I will begin printing off everything on one of the laser printers and placing the output in 3-ring binders. I have multuple generators, multiple laser printers, and enough paper, toner, and binders to do this if required. This is all part of a complete longterm prep plan.

  11. A tidbit I learned from 10+ years of pc repairs. Plain text files can be read on any operating system natively. Formats like Word and pdf, require specific software to read them. So I keep a separate backup of my library in plain .txt format as well. No pics but the meat is there in case all else fails.

    Another tidbit: Wiki on a Stick for your thumb drives. Lets you have your own personal, searchable wikipedia on your thumbdrive.

    • PATTON**** says:

      Great point and idea. Thanks!

    • MtWoman (N Texas) says:

      Tommy…could you please explain Wiki on a Stick a little ?

    • blindshooter says:

      Speaking of any operating system, I keep my electronic library on a not so old pc running a minimal Linux OS. I have the same OS on a bootable thumb drive. You can get your system running on a windoze box that won’t even start. The same can be done with a CD on older hardware that won’t boot from USB but will from the CD then you can read your thumb drive.
      I have to use micro$oft but that don’t mean I have to like it. Dual boot with another OS is your friend when windows decides to not cooperate any longer.

      Good post, I need to work on more ways to power up. My plan has been to print most of the stuff if the power becomes iffy.

  12. Chonte' in MD says:

    not to self.. keep ALL altoids tins. Thanks!

  13. Uncle Charlie says:

    In addition to army surplus hand generators, there are devices out there to generate power via a stationary bicycle. These devices can run computers and charge batteries. Hook up a 50 gal barrel to a stationary bike and you’ve got a low tech washing machine which are used in Africa. Throughout most of history, people have survived without electricity. We can do it again. Wean yourself off of electronic devices and you won’t miss them so much when they’re gone. Printing out articles and saving them in binders is not a bad idea. My last stand hidey- hole has no electricity currently (no pun intended). I may explore solar and hyro-electric as I have some sun and falling water, but I enjoy the peace and quite so much when I visit, I may never follow up. I put fishing hooks and flies in Altoids tins, but that’s just me.

  14. Lint Picker (Northern California) says:

    ipads, ipods, smart phones, droids, etc. – don’t have a clue what they are for and how to use them. I can just barely operate the laptop I’m typing on right now. Couldn’t even figure out how to set up my own email address so am using my late wife’s address. Point being: the new technology – the ever-changing technology – does not compute for me.

    I’ll be sticking with my survival binders, books, and what’s stored in my brain. I could be in big trouble.

    • PATTON**** says:

      Lint Picker,

      Not knowing how to do something is not an excuse for not LEARNING. There are many places/people that can teach you how to use a computer or other computer related skill. Hell, my kids knew more about a PC in third grade than I did when I got my first Desktop. Since then I taught myself (using on-line resources that can teach you anything) how to use many a new program or diagnose a computer related problem.

      You’re never too old to learn new things…..including how to use a computer.

      Good luck.


    • Hunker-Down says:

      Lint Picker,

      I agree with Patton as far as learning. Since finding this blog I have discovered that I can Google the dumbest question, sometimes I have to use different words in the question but Google always finds something about the topic being searched.
      Every week someone on this blog uses a word I never saw before, and using Google to go down the yellow brick road uncovers some interesting rabbit holes.

      As you said, computers are an ever changing technology, and that is its achilles heel. The thumb drive (and whatever) everyone is using today for backup will go the same obsolescence route as the floppy disk and a hundred other media storage contraptions. If you have data on a floppy disk, there is a good chance that there are no computers near you with a floppy disk drive. You can use your floppy disk for a coffee cup coaster but its a bitch getting the dust out of the groves.

      I made a a good living from 1960 to 2000 working full time in computer departments and my experience tells me if I want some information to last beyond TEOTWAWKI I had better print it on paper (worked for the Egyptians and beyond).

  15. Two words: Hard copy.
    Any other means of storing information for survival, or any other purpose, will be wasted effort one generation down the road if TPTB have their way and turn this country into a third world format.
    How long do you expect your computer to last? Ten years? Maybe. If the batteries last that long, or the HD doesn’t fail. And if you can’t get repair parts? Even a second laptop may not survive so long.
    Really, I like technology and really enjoy it, but don’t rely on electronics for anything survival-related, or for passing information to succeeding generations. Too, I understand how plugged in this generation, and country, has become, and also realize that it’s not a benefit in the long term scenario.
    So, as noted elsewhere, make hard copies of your words and pictures and store them in water/weather/fire tight containers so when you’re gone, your decendants will know what you learned.

    • PATTON**** says:

      Learn the skills from the information that you have stored (paper or digital….. OR BOTH) and then pass them on to the next generation PERSONALLY. Reading how to do something and actually doing it are two different things.

      Like computers, paper does not last forever either. And that is “if” you can get any paper (a great barter item BTW) to transcribe documents that are deteriortaing with age, humidity, paper worms, fire, flood, having to BUG OUT (try carrying it all in a BOB) etc etc.

      Good point though. Have paper AND digital library. Redundancy and more redundancy.

    • TxgalinPNW says:

      Right on! That was what I was trying to get acrossed but just chosed the wrong words.
      Everyone seems to think things are going to last forever. They don’t take into account how much the toss away. We are just a use and toss society that it makes me sad. I remember when my mom took the toaster and her mixer to a repair person and the repair was done ring and the 2 piece of kitchen equipment lasted until I was in high school (I was in ssecond grade when she had them repaired.)

  16. Copperhead says:

    Good article, Patton. I am going to use a thumbdrive AND I am making hard copies and laminating the most important pages. I am also looking for a container that will be waterproof and fireproof. I am thinking I might keep some copies in a totally different location from my home. I am bugging in, but still could find a place for copies.

    Very thought provoking…thank you!

  17. Thanks for the informational article. I have so much information in PDF format that if I was to decide to print it out, it would cost me several hundred dollars and be totally non portable. I am soon to get at tablet in addition to my netbook computer and 2 desk tops. Given an EMP even the netbook is in my Faraday locker and the tablet is mostly for travel so it rests in the mylar bag inside a grounded/lined ammo can.
    Most all of my important files are on flash drives, but all of my devises can also use the 32 Gb micro SD cards (these hold a LOT).
    I was looking at my listing, some 400 books, and it only takes up 4 Gb!
    There are many good “pocket sized” solar chargers (my favorite also charges 2 AA batteries) and is a companion when I travel (along with a MP3 player).
    I guess it all depends upon what kind of situation you are planing on. I’m trying to cover a many bases as I can, being an information junkie.

    • Patton**** says:


      Good work. Keep it up. My article was meant as a stimulant to think of this and OTHER ideas1. SD cards was one thing I overlooked. Thanks for that great tidbit of info (storage). :-).


  18. charlie (NC) says:

    Reading this essay I had a vision of a post shtf event sometime around
    2095 AD when some kids hunting with home made bows and arrows find a strange looking little device made of plastic and metal such as hasn’t been seen for many years. Eventually the device is shown to one of the few surviving old men in the encampment who recognizes it, knows how it functions and has enough memory of the electronics he knew in his previous life to build a simple lead acid battery and bring it back to life.

    If I had the time, interest and writting skills I could write a sci-fi book or movie based on that theme.

  19. @MtWoman (N Texas)
    The page below will do a better job of explaining the wiki than I could. Somehow my explanations tend to cause folks eyes to glass over as I tend to go (as the wife puts it) ubergeek….lol. It’s really easy to use, I mostly copy and paste to update or create entries.

  20. I use both 1 TB and larger backup drives (both standalone or on one of my servers) along with multiple SD and thumb drives. I’ve for the most part personally given up on using DVD’s for backup due to their limited capacity. My Self Reliance library is just north of 85 GB and growing. It contains not only pdf and text files, but video and audio (from about 15 podcast sites). The standalone drives are stored in faraday cages when not connected during the backup process.
    I also have numerous commercial DVDs with information ranging from firearms training (e.g., Magpul) and butchering meat to Amateur radio antenna design. There is a lot of educational information out there on CD and DVD, and having one or more old laptops to play the DVD’s is a good idea, as is having a few entertainment videos for the kids and adults. In the early days of an event, trying to keep the kids (and some of the adults) quiet and compliant during a bug in situation, may go better with some entertainment, other than cards and board games. My oldest laptop is about 10 years old, runs Windows XP or Linux and still plays DVD video & audio quite well.

  21. All this talk of tablets and nice laptops is really reigniting an old hatred for my current laptop. Basically I’m bitter that hubby spent bucks on a new unit when $50 would have relieved the “I have to hit the processor fan with a screwdriver because of a bad bearing” issue in my old laptop and a car jump-start battery would have allowed me to move it around the house with impunity while giving me a useful device. (Heck, I think my mother might have two working self-contained jump-starters in the garage.)

    The new laptop isn’t that much lighter than my old one, has a smaller screen, useless keyboard unless I disable the only on-board pointing device, no ability to read handwriting even with an external tablet, no ability to read cd’s or dvd’s while away from the home network, the battery still sucks, and now I can’t possibly afford a lightweight and power-efficient gadget that’s actually an improvement over a laptop that just needed a new way to vent heat. (Really, I would have preferred that hubby get a new laptop and leave me with his desktop-weight castoff.)

    • Too bad your hubby (or you) would not try to replace the fan in the laptop unit. Its pretty much a simple fix, and the fan unit replacement itself is readily available via the internet (eBay) or even the original fan manufacturer.

      You can learn to fix things, alamost anything in fact. It’s not that difficult. Check out YouTube or Google specific information, such as “how to replace a laptop cooling fan” and you will be presently surprised. If you still have the old laptop in question, I would open it up and check it out. Replace the fan for a few bucks and you have the laptop (that you really want and need) back in service. Never to late….unless you threw out the old one

      Good luck.

      • The new fan unit cost $50 and isn’t powerful enough. I’ve yet to devote the time to re-engineering the thing; have to decide if I want to fluid-cool it or just make better airflow. For practically no money, I could have taken it completely apart and screwed the whole thing into a desktop case for dragging it around the house, it was just that setting it on a cookie rack with the keyboard off made it quiet enough to drown out with its own speakers.

        To be fair, the hubby thought he was buying me a touch-screen that would play movies for 12 hours straight on a charge. I threw in $50 to get a tablet that won’t work if I set it on top of the keyboard, turning it into a touchscreen costs similar but is complicated, and the handwriting recognition would cost more than the computer did.

        I was waiting for the Asus EA800, but they cancelled it and now I’m waiting for whatever epically cool upgrade that they’re going to release instead.

  22. Great article. I collect and categorize information in folders, then burn/store them in a similar manner. Really important stuff, like scanned birth/marriage certs, DD 214/service record, passports, deeds, professional certs, contracts, mortgages, etc, get copied to every archive I make in their own separate directory/folder so I’ll always have a copy somewhere. For security, I compress each folder first with IZarc (free compression utility, no adware, check which supports password protected 256-bit AES encryption. Nobody, except a government, is going to get into that without the password.

  23. Holy chestnuts, backing up is hard. Granted, I can’t find the magic data recovery program that some guy gave to me a while ago, and I had to spend a full hundred for a new drive that cured my computer of some mysterious problem instead of ordering and equivalent drive for $80 plus shipping time.

    I backed up my computer to the spare drive, now I’m desperate to disconnect it just to keep it from complaining of being full every five minutes and ruining my attempts to watch subbed anime. My colored pencil collection can live in cardboard like it is supposed to…. that old Altoids box is the only suitable container I have.

  24. cooolwoods says:

    wow, I didnt think that I could contribute much if any to the knowledge here. recharge laptops or ipads or anything 12v. I’ve read hand cranks, solar panels, adapter plugs ect. how about the homemade battery? pop cans copper pipe and bleach water. safer than acid and a big bucket of stuff for the pool lasts a long time. I have the pdf on my wifes laptop from when my puter was toasted. I have to look up the link but the info is really useful. remined me of science class, 2 dissimilar metals and an acid like substance produces dc power. the bicycle generator, turn any permanate magnet motor (pmm) backwards, instant generator. an old 18v cordless drill on a bike. the larger the voltage on the pmm for example a treadmill motor alot of them are [email protected] rpm you produce [email protected] rpm very popular for homemade windmills. same thing for hydro power. ok I’m rattleing on, I’ll look for the battery link.

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