Digital Survival Kits

When an emergency or catastrophe happens, computer data may be the last consideration for most people. However, once things settle down, that electronic information could be crucial to survival and resuming a relatively normal life. As with everything else, it is important to be prepared.

1Some of the information that may be required in the case of a disaster includes personal records such as birth, marriage, and death certificates, vehicle titles, wills, education and work history, contracts for mortgage or other loans, credit cards, utilities, and other paperwork. These are usually on paper, so a fire or flood can make them unusable; at the same time, it would be difficult to carry around all of these in the case of an evacuation. That is why one should have the information in a digital format.

The most logical way to store this sort of digital information is to store it on a flash drive (sometimes called a thumb drive). These are tiny USB drives that store data that range from 8GB to 128GB or more. The nicest part of these drives is that it is easy to store them in a convenient location – some even fit neatly in a wallet.

While the information can be stored online – “in the cloud” – it may not be accessible if a disaster happens. Internet may not be available. It is also possible that having it in the cloud may be less secure, as hackers become more proficient at their art.

There are several ways to digitize this information. A standard camera, a phone camera, a scanner, or similar means can be used to store the data in digital format. It is important to make sure that all policy numbers, ID numbers, account numbers, and similar critical information is legible.


Choosing which documents to preserve can be overwhelming, since paperwork is a part of everything. Some things can be easily replaced, as long as some other important things are available. Consider making a digital version of documents and information that may be needed.

  • Identification and official documents
    Passports, visas, driver’s licenses, federal certificates, photo IDs, prescriptions, insurance, medical history, and last will are documents that are essential and can be difficult to replace. Also important are mortgage or real estate documents, car titles along with VIN or serial numbers, safe deposit box locations and inventory as well as key location and who is authorized for access, investments, bank accounts, and credit card account numbers and companies along with how to contact them. Lawyer information, social security cards, and a digital copy of everything normally carried in purse or wallet should also be included.
  • State laws for weapons
    If carrying a firearm, be aware of the laws of the states within the region – and farther. Having the laws for all states digitized can be a handy way to be sure to keep from getting arrested.
  • Contact Information
    While emergency contact information should be more quickly accessible (like on a luggage tag), other phone numbers and addresses that may be needed later. Being able to find and contact people who are not strangers can be crucial in a catastrophe situation.
  • Maps
    If traveling becomes necessary, finding routes and getting to destinations can be much more possible with proper maps. Local maps on paper that can be grabbed in a moment are great, but once the region’s outskirts have been reached, further maps may be necessary. Having them in digital format may make it easier to search for particular locations.
  • Device instructions and repair information
    Vehicle manuals, computer or radio books, and other instruction paperwork will be easier to carry in digital format, as the original books are usually heavy and unwieldy.
  • The Constitution of the United States of America
    If fleeing becomes necessary, knowing citizen’s rights may be more important than ever. Abuse of power can become rampant when “security” is at risk. Be able to show them the pertinent sections in the case of an attempt to railroad into negative situations such as camps.
  • Family pictures and videos
    Memories can help to keep people sane in a disaster situation. Having home videos to watch can help families stay grounded, and having current photos can be helpful in case the family gets separated, to help find the missing people, as well as being a source of remembering happier and easier times.
  • Entertainment material
    Favorite books and movies can be stored digitally to aid in keeping sane.


Because many of these documents are personal and could be devastating if lost or stolen, having appropriate security for them is necessary. There are ways to encrypt the data but remember that encrypted data will require decryption for use or viewing. This is usually in the form of a password, which would need to be remembered. Two inexpensive software options are BitLocker and VeraCrypt. It is recommended that all information is read and understood before selecting one of these to use.


Having the right hardware can go a long way into keeping your software safe.

Where to Buy
Kingston IronKey Basic S1000 Encrypted Flash Drive IKS1000B/4GB
Corsair Flash Survivor Stealth 64GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive, Black (CMFSS3B-64GB)
Verbatim 16GB Dog Tag USB Flash Drive - Black - 98671
Samsung BAR Plus 32GB - 200MB/s USB 3.1 Flash Drive Champagne Silver (MUF-32BE3/AM)
128GB Waterproof USB 2.0 Flash Drive Metal Thumb Drive with Keychain 128 GB Compact Jump Drive 128G Memory Stick for Storage and Backup by mosdart,Silver
128GB USB C Flash Drive 2 in 1 OTG USB C to USB A 3.0 Dual Thumb Drive Waterproof 128 GB Type c Memory Stick Metal Jump Drive Durable with 360 Degree Rotation for USB-C Devices by MOSDAR
GORILLADRIVE 64GB Ruggedized USB Flash Drive (2-Pack)
64GB USB Flash Drive, Moreslan USB 3.0 Flash Drive Keychain USB Stick Waterproof Aluminum Memory Stick Pen Drive High Speed for Computers Tablets and Other USB Devices - Silver

Flash Drives

1. IronKey Flash Drive

This 4GB capacity digital storage device is sturdy and protects data with hardware encryption. The steel case protects the internal data. It has an option to make it self-destruct or wipe the data if the wrong password is entered too many times. The self-destruct option releases the charge from an internal capacitor to fry the internal workings.

2. Survivor Stealth Flash Drive

This 64GB data capacity flash drive is surrounded by anodized aluminum housing with a water seal and a shock dampener to provide safety and reduce chances of losing data. It offers USB 3.0 speed of transfer but is also usable with USB 2.0 ports. This device can be used with Windows, Mac, or Linux easily and reliably.

3. Dog Tag 16GB

This USB drive looks and feels like a dog tag, including a bead chain. Easy to keep handy, the drive fits neatly in the back of the dog tag, where it is protected from dust and water.

4. BAR 32GB Flash Drive

Fast transfer and reliable storage in a durable metal case that is shockproof, waterproof, temperature proof, magnet proof, and x-ray proof makes this an excellent choice for storing crucial data in a portable manner.

5. Waterproof Keychain Flash Drive

128GB of data can be stored safely on this drive, which is waterproof and encased in high-quality metal. It has a keychain built in to easily attach it to a keyring, backpack, wallet, or similar. It is compatible with any device that has a USB port.

6. Dual Thumb Drive

Along with a standard USB port compatibility, this device can also fit neatly into a USB-C port, such as most current Android phones use. This can make it much easier to access.

7. Rugged Flash Drive 2-Pack

Durable and resistant to pressure, weather, and water, this drive includes a metal loop to attach it to a chain or keyring. It is high-speed and compatible with Windows and Mac.

8. Waterproof Aluminum Drive

A buckle clasp makes this easy to connect to keyrings and its nickel-plated aluminum design allows for quick usage and provides protection against shock, magnets, dust, water, and static. Compatible with pretty much anything that has a USB port.