One online backup service can do that.
Insurance policy information, bank account information, retirement accounts, medical insurance, all are critical within the days and weeks following death. While not as time-critical, many other items can still be important over the next few years: family photographs, last year's income tax records, the unfinished manuscript for that genealogy book or local history book that you have been writing, and a lot of other information may eventually become important to someone.
When a person dies, one of the biggest questions asked by survivors is, "Where did he (or she) put that information?"
How about the genealogy information you have spent a lifetime accumulating? Sure, you have it all on your computer, and it is all backed up in several places, both in your home and off-site. However, do your family members know where it is? Could they retrieve it?
Perhaps the bigger question is: Do they even care?
In the case of genealogy information, perhaps the primary beneficiary of your information might not be your surviving spouse or your children. Perhaps they do not have the interest that you have. In that case, the information perhaps should be given to your distant cousin who is also interested in genealogy. Perhaps you prefer to deliver that information to a local genealogy society after your death if you believe they will preserve the information.
Who will be able to obtain your digital family photographs? Sure, they are on your computer; but does that computer require a password to log on? If so, who else knows your password? I would suggest that NOBODY should know your password. However, once you are dead, the rules change. Sadly, that's too late.
Do your family members even know that the photographs are on that computer?
I know of only one online data backup service that has provisions to deliver your private information to persons you specify after your death.
DataInherit is an online service in Switzerland that offers individuals around the world highly secure online storage for passwords and digital documents. Being in Switzerland is not an issue for access; you can connect to backup services in Switzerland as easily as to a service up the street. The Internet provides worldwide access to everyone. You can access your online storage "safe" using any Internet browser or even from an iPhone from anywhere in the world, at any time, assuming you know the proper user names and passwords. In addition, DataInherit's unique data inheritance functionality will protect your data in emergency situations, such as your death or your becoming incapacitated.
Using a backup service in Switzerland does have a few psychological advantages. It also may provide a few legal advantages. The Swiss have a long history of protecting private information, and Swiss laws dictate the rigid security requirements of all businesses in the country. Your private information will be protected in Switzerland at least as well as anyplace else in the world, perhaps better.
With DataInherit, all of the customer’s data is highly encrypted, using a password known only to the customer. As stated on the company's web site:
We offer our private customers long-term online storage and security for digital assets, with contracts covering periods of use for up to 10 years.
We guarantee the following to you:
Please see our General Terms and Conditions (at http://www.datainherit.com/en/company/terms.html) for additional information.
- We work as a team with great care and professionalism to safely honor our long-term contracts with our customers.
- In the event that we should ever be unable to fulfill a long-term contract with a customer, we guarantee to the customer that we will reimburse any fees paid in advance, including, of course, the safe return and handover of all passwords and data.
- By voluntarily keeping the customer’s data for longer than the duration of the contract, DataInherit endeavors to see that any “dormant accounts” of customers are not lost.
Data InheritanceWhat caught my eye, however, is the function called "Data Inheritance." Again, quoting from the DataInherit web site:
Data inheritance provides insurance in the event of an emergency.You can learn more at http://www.datainherit.com/en/quick-tour-movie.html and at http://www.datainherit.com/en/why_data_inheritance/easy_use.html
DataInherit offers unique insurance in the event of an emergency with built-in data inheritance in all its products. Should anything happen to you, your important digital data and passwords are preserved and can be accessed by authorized family members, partners or trusted friends. This represents a significant difference compared to a personal data backup.
Data inheritance in a nutshell
- Save documents and passwords in the DataInherit online safe.
- Specify beneficiaries who are to be given access to the data should anything happen to you.
- Allocate your data and passwords to your beneficiaries.
- In the event of an emergency, DataInherit guarantees the safe notification of your beneficiaries and the secure transfer of your data.
DataInherit offers several levels of service, at varying prices. The Password Safe is a FREE service that stores up to 50 passwords and up to 10 megabytes of files. That's not a lot of data but is a great service for someone who simply needs to store a number of passwords and perhaps a few text files. Free is a good thing. For fees ranging from $1.40 a month to $16.50 a month, DataInherit will back up unlimited passwords and anywhere from 10 megabytes to 25 gigabytes of files. Significant discounts are also available if you pay for several years in advance.
DataInherit looks like a great service to back up your files and passwords in case you have a loss or a disaster on your computer. Even better, DataInherit will also deliver the same information to people you designate in case of your demise or becoming incapacitated.
One thing that I don't see in DataInherit is any guarantees of long-term data preservation. In other words, is the company prepared to preserve your data for 25 years? 50 years? 100 years? I am sure they will if the company is still in business but there are no guarantees of that. I'd like to see some assurance that the company is placing the fees you pay into escrow accounts and then plans on paying the day-to-day bills with the interest earned from those funds. I am not aware of any company that provides that level of long-term digital preservation.
I would trust DataInherit to protect my information during my lifetime (assuming I check occasionally to make sure they are still in business) and for some months beyond. I like the company's assurances of data protection and privacy. I especially like the methods of delivering your information to your designated beneficiaries. I wouldn't expect DataInherit to protect and preserve my data for 100 years, however.
As such, I would suggest that DataInherit can be a valuable service.
More information may be found at http://www.datainherit.com
My thanks to Donald Pounder for telling me about DataInherit.
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