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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 24th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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The cloud with a silver lining

17 February 2017

As I watched the palls of smoke rising over the hills near Christchurch I began to reflect on the value of clouds.

No, not those clouds of smoke but "the cloud".

I heard a radio interview with a woman whose house had burned to the ground in the fires and she said that her biggest loss was the years of photographs and images that were in the family albums. She felt that a huge chunk of her life and the memories she'd love to share with her family were now lost forever.

Likewise, from time to time I read stories of people who've been burgled or robbed and are pleading for the return of their laptops or phones because of the treasured pictures and/or videos they contain.

Come on people -- why aren't you using the cloud?

It strikes me that committing your treasured pictures, videos and other digital memories to the cloud is a damned sensible thing to do these days.

If your house is razed to the ground or your digital device of choice is lost to thieves or misfortune, copies of your media stored in the cloud can be recovered and restored in a few short minutes.

All those pictures of the kids, your parents and your pets that used to litter the mantelpiece can be reprinted and reframed to put things right in a way that no simple insurance pay out could ever do.

We're repeatedly told that "things" such as fridges, washing machines, clothes and other possessions can be replaced -- but it's the personal things which trigger warm memories of the past that are the most valuable and irreplaceable in the hearts of many. Well upload the damned things to a dropbox (or two) now -- before it's too late.

Even stuff from generations ago (ie: the contents of Nana's photo album which you inherited when she passed away) can be scanned and uploaded so as to ensure that you have something to pass on to your kids or grandkids when the time comes.

Of course this raises an issue which is becoming increasingly important -- the handing on of passwords and the answers to those safety-questions that you often have to provide when setting up an account or logging in. Without handing these down to the next generation, your cloud-contents will be inaccessible -- so think ahead.

We are probably the first generation to have to deal with the issue of a digital inheritance and I think it would be easy to overlook the importance of making provision for this in the event of our demise -- especially if it was an unexpected one.

Have you documented your essential IDs and passwords along with the login URLs so that your kids can access sites that may otherwise lock them out of valuable or important information once you're dead?

Do it now... don't delay because every day could be your last, you never know.

What provisions have you made for the management of your online presence and data when you die? How many of our generation will pass on without even giving this a second thought -- leaving their kids locked out of the stuff that memories are made of?

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