Your Computer May Not Survive a Collapse But These Off-Grid Archiving Strategies Will

by | Feb 22, 2018 | Headline News | 22 comments

Do you LOVE America?


    This article was originally published by Jeremiah Johnson at Ready Nutrition

    I will admit that I am not the most technologically “savvy” individual, and I’m certainly not armed with all the modern “conveniences” that most people take as a necessity. Cell phones, Kindle devices, M-pad/I-pod/UFO-whatever-for-music…don’t use ‘em. That being said, I know they have their merits, but it’s the same type of lesson I tried to impart to my son when he went into the service.

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    He picked up one of those high-speed wrist compasses…the digital kind…but I constantly remind him to use that “old-fashioned” lensatic compass as his mainstay. He listens, although he prefers to use his gizmo. I’m just happy he carries the lensatic with him and knows how to use it. I made sure he knew how to use it.

    Create a Survival Library with Hard-Copy Notes and Archives

    In this light, remember that all of our technology can collapse in the blink of an eye. The collapse can be precipitated by any number of things…grid failure/brownouts, an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) strike, a nuclear war, or just a societal collapse that has a “downtrickle” of losing critical infrastructure and modern power systems. In that light, it is best to take your digital and electronic libraries and ensure they are duplicated into hard-copy. Consider investing in a typewriter to pass this valuable information on. Let’s give some suggestions, and you can take them, and tailor them to suit your needs.

    1. Whenever you watch any kind of training video/DVD, you should always take notes and summarize it. Pick up the key points, supplementing them with your own notes and diagrams to help clarify the instruction. A composition-type notebook works well for this. I take rough notes on a sheet of paper, and then recopy them into the notebook.
    2. Summarize books and other works: Turn a 300-page book into 8-10 pages of intense notes…summarize and shoot for brevity and clarity in your notes. This is not to say, “don’t keep books,” but rather, read them and take good notes that you can glance at to glean any important information you may need to use.
    3. Print out the important how-to’s and “archive” notes: don’t just store it on hard drive or jump drive! Although that is important, you want to make sure your information is printed off.  Strive for accuracy, compactness, neatness, and organization in all of your notes.
    4. File similar subjects in a binder/common protector: This is especially important when you’re dealing with things such as first-aid and medicine. Protect the info, and keep it well-organized
    5. Military Med Chests: Yes, made out of strong aluminum, these stackable canisters are perfect to place your archives and books inside after wrapping them up in plastic…preferably contractor-grade bags around 6 mils in thickness.
    6. Durable plastic bins: These can work if they’re really tough and are water-tight. The biggest problems with notes, archives, and books are water, mildew, bugs, and fire, in that order.  You want to make sure everything is in plastic and sealed up tight.
    7. Duplicate everything…1-6 up there? You should have one copy out for your general use, and another sealed up in a safe place.

    The last measure mentioned is not just for you and your family. The last measure is to provide information for those not here with us yet, or those not old enough to use the information right now. Think beyond yourself and your own lifetime, or even the lifetimes of your kids. You want to leave a legacy? Who cares if they know who you are? There will still be those who will thank you for leaving records and how-to’s they can use. Want a good example? Read the book “Lucifer’s Hammer,” by Niven and Pournelle. Be more than a student, or a secretary. Be a custodian…of information…. a caretaker, taking care for future generations. Hard copy for all information…to include books!…is the way to save the knowledge. Stay in that good fight! JJ out!

    Additional Reading:

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    About the Author

    Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

    Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

    Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.


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      1. Best plan – learn. Practice. Apprentice yourself in a sense to needed skills. Learn to teach what you know to those who can take in what you can offer. Become skilled.

        • Heartless : 100% right. The more you know and learn the better you are and the more you are worth.

          2nd : I own a crap load of books. How I would ever transport them somewhere else, while on foot, I don’t know. What I have been doing lately is buying CD books and downloading them to my computer. I add articles and information that I find on the internet and download that info. The last thing that I am going to do is to by a used 2 sided digital printer. I will have to cut all of the binders off of my books and then scan them all. If you want to keep them, three ring bind them back up and you still have a hard copies. Then every 6 months or so buy another gorilla drive and download for safe keeping. Vacuum seal for longevity. Yes they go bad. Make new drives and copy onto disc every 6 months. These will be a lot lighter to carry. Never plug it into another persons computer. Make them a copy on yours for sale or trade. Now, I know a lot of you are laughing at me right now, saying what a dumb ass how is he going to view that info. The answer. HOW many lap tops do you think is out there right now? When the power runs out how many people are going to carry them around? They are going to be every where. All you have to do is power them up. Solar, bicycle generator, etc, etc, use your imagination. I just purchased 2 rugged models at a county auction for $100. It cost me $35 more to buy windows 7 pro on the internet ( EBay ), And a little time to get one up and running, complete with adobe. Store it in a faraday cage, no need to every connect up to the internet again, if I don’t want it to. It is 64 bit, 1 disc drive, 2 usb ports, 12v & 110 power supply, SD card slots, nice and fast, I already have thousands of books loaded onto it. Family photos. Music. Anything that you deem important. Best part, this thing has an external battery. Nothing to corrode up the guts. How long will it last? I don’t have a clue but our home computer is 10+ years old and still going. This thing is 5 years old and practically brand new. The other one, I will upgrade the drives and hardware and do the same thing. Books are great but heavy.

          • I forgot to say, There are a few books that are in my pack and I will never cut them up. You have to decide for yourself what is and what is not important to you and yours. No 2 scenarios will ever be the same.

          • FYI – there are **SOME** laptops that will actually run without any battery connected and just plugged into the wall. Most will run if the battery is totally dead and not holding a charge as long as the power cord is plugged in.

            • How do you know in advance if it has that capability? How does it read in the spec list?


              • remove the battery. If in the store on a display shelf – just push the battery catches in the direction embossed. If it does not come out – it, the laptop, is not worth buying. And that alone is why any device that cannot be externally powered in some fashion should never be a part of any bug-out scheme. If a device when connected to charge power is programmed to be dysfunctional when charging – AND the battery is a dead one that cannot be charged – it is worthless. Remember that.

                • That is why I scratch my info on the walls of caves. If it worked for the ancients, it will work for me! 🙂

            • I do not know how you would know up front. I know the 2 that I bought have detachable batteries but the power cords plug directly into the computer itself. I have not tried it with the battery off but the 2nd ones battery is totally dead and it powers up with the cord.
              I would say that if the SHTF, when you come across a laptop with an internal battery, remove it and see how it works. You might have to solder a few wires together where the battery would be to make a permanent connection. The 2 I purchased are the Dell Latitudes and they were the tough models for there time. They are a little bigger and heaver than the nowadays models but way lighter than a stack of books. If you have a home base or a stash to keep hard copy books then great but if you are on the move they weigh to much. The biggest thing to remember digitally is it will not last forever.
              Money is the root of all evil. Air and sunlight is the root of all evil to a prepper. Vacuum seal some copies of your info. Maybe even stash some along the way. Keep extra copies for bargaining, trade, sale, safe passage, etc, etc. Most of the time info is king. You might need an antibiotic or a bite of food right now but to be able to produce your own is the way to go. Even if you don’t give out the info, if you are handy and you have the info you are golden, until you go to sleep. Good luck.

              • Thanks much F&M! Those old Dell Latitudes sound nice, actually.

                I hear ya on the shelf life of digital media. Can’t wait until these tech geniuses figure out how to make a permanent medium for storage (other than stone).

                Moisture is the big enemy, IMHO. I have been collecting small things, as you said, for safe passage. As trade items.

                Not sure if you have read the Deep Winter series (three books) but I read them a few months ago and that guy had a number of systems for storing information and how to access it. Super smart author. Got a little wonky at the end, but I feel like I learned a lot and got my money’s worth after buying all three books.

          • Books weigh a ton. Remember those episodes of Star Trek where Jean Luc pulled out an antique paper book? With reverence?

          • Thumb drives and SD memory cards store data by placing an electrical charge on a silicone junction. Over time that charge can be lost. There’s software on these devices that when used refreshes that charge. If you put data on a drive and drop it in a drawer, the data may become unreadable in two to five years. If a similar device is plugged in and accessed a few times a year for several hours at a time, the data could last a lifetime.

            If you buy recordable DVD’s, they fail with time as well. I had a catastrophic failure during Windows free upgrade to Windows 10, and of course my trusty drive image that I made on DVDs was corrupt. There are “archive quality DVDs” that will keep data nearly indefinitely, record at the slowest speed for best reliability. I bought “Archive Quality DVDs” for saving personal data.

            Another long term reliable data store is old working (magnetic media mechanical) hard drives from old laptops. Electronic hard drives are just large SD memory card arrays. You can buy an empty case for that drive on Amazon, and power supply plus the case has a built in circuit so it plugs into a USB port. Reformat the drive and then just remember to periodically back up your data to it. Keep it in a safe place, and treat it gently. If you have a second old hard drive, use it to make a bootable image of your entire computer, just before major upgrades and a month after the upgrade is proven reliable. Then you only need to backup user files regularly.

        • If the marxists and their owners have their way, we will see a “Fahrenheit 451” future…

        • Good article. Nice reminder for everyone. Get down to WalMart and get your Zip Lock plastic bag sealer. I did. Years ago.

          Get to the Dolla Store and buy vinyl covered notebooks to stash your hard copies of info and data into. You can even color code the subject matter that way.

          I did. Years ago. 🙂

      2. I’ll need a warehouse to store all these totes in…

      3. I have a complete set of engineering books, a book of logarithms, all my math text books, I think my slide rule is broken( if I can remember where it is), but I can still use a pencil.
        I also have the normal “how to” books.
        My library is small, maybe 200 books and manuals,
        and 200 or so fiction books.
        Always have a local copy of your stuff,
        never depend on a “cloud”.

        • I agree. I have owned books all my life. I don’t advise to store them in plastic.

          The best way to store books is to get a stack of moving paper (sheets of 36 inch by 24 inch brown paper that movers use to wrap stuff in when they move it. Use several sheets (or fold a sheet for smaller books) and wrap it. The paper will absorb minor amounts of condensation, the plastic won’t. Plastic totes are fine but go ahead and throw in a few boards in the bottom (cedar works to repel insects and will absorb moisture, plain old cedar fencing, new, cut to size would work just fine). Throw in some silica packs in between the cedar boards on the bottome. Stack paper-wrapped books on top.

          The thing about books is they are heavy. I know, the last time I moved I had nearly 35 boxes of books. I am looking to downsize. It’s hard. The little kindles are much easier on the eyes. The kindle paperwhite is very nice and quite affordable. I think it can read PDFs, too. No color. Just grayscale. You can make notes.

          • Zip Lock plastic bag sealer sucks the air out. You can add an O2 absorber and one of those little silica bags that come in everything; or crush up some crackers to suck up any moisture.

            It works. Its cheap. 🙂

      4. As Archivist, I have done all those things.

        Thousands of books in hard copy, tens of thousands on the computer, notebooks full of web page printouts, etc. Multiple backups in multiple locations.

        I even have my own personal cloud in case all else fails.

        And I remember almost everything I read, see, or hear.

        • you have done well.

        • Archivist:

          Well done.

          Your intelligence is obvious. But people age and sometimes memory fades. Although most people probably will never give a moment’s thought to the individual you are, your direct descendants may be curious about your life, even the mundane aspects.

          This article left out one’s telephone & address book.


      5. Got that covered. Have been accumulating books on non-electrical based technology for a long time and making them available to anyone who wants them free of charge.

        It’s all well and good to say “I’ll plow a field with horses.”

        IF you know how to harness a horse, make a harness in the first place, how to tan the leather to make one and how to hook up and actually use the plow.

        The Librarian

        • Librarian:

          Thank you. This site you gave us is terrific.?


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