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Thoughts on insurance and online backup

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David Woolfrey

Somehow insurance policies have been on my mind recently. I think back to a family friend whose house burnt to the ground a few years ago. Everything was in there… all gone. The insurance company took very good care of him and, after about eight months of living out of a suitcase, he moved into his new house that was at least as good, if not more modern, than his old house. The house was new – free from memories, photos, CDs, and experiences.

Of course this friend was reimbursed for his inconvenience, but that’s not the point. Forty years of memories were lost forever along with the house. Eight months of his life were forever disrupted because of it. The insurance company handled the situation as best as they could.

In an ideal world, I imagine the situation would look quite different:

The insurance company would have a complete carbon copy of his house somewhere in storage with everything as it was: childhood photos, memorabilia, souvenirs from his honeymoon, even unwashed dishes in his sink; everything as he left it before heading off to work that fateful morning.

In this ideal insurance world, my friend comes home, sees his house is a pile of burning embers, calls his insurance company, and within a few hours, his carbon-copy house is airlifted in and set-up just as it was when he left in the morning. He is still able to sleep in his own bed that night.

Isn’t this scenario the perfect ideal that insurance companies strive for? Getting life back to normal after a disaster in a matter of hours rather than months. There’s even the added benefit that insurance fraud becomes impossible!

I had a similar digital experience a month ago. My hard-drive crashed and along with it all my music, all my photos and all my digital memories. It was through this crisis that I became aware of online backup. Simply put, if I’d had my hard-drive backed up online, within a few hours of my disaster, everything could be back to normal through a restore.

I believe online backup has achieved the platonic ideal for insurance: an exact copy of all my precious digital content that can quickly be restored after a disaster. A problem happens, I restore from my backup, problem solved. All this in a matter of minutes or hours.

I’ve always viewed computer activities as trying to mimic the offline world. With backup as insurance, it not only mimics real-world insurance, but it vastly improves on it. Minutes instead of months, exact restoration of what was lost instead of replacements, and the peace of mind that goes along with this. If only it were possible to physically backup your possessions. 3D printing has a ways to go before this can ever be achieved.

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About David Woolfrey

David Woolfrey