I recall a situation in the early ’90s when a wild fire ravaged a plush L.A. neighborhood. One of the most notable memories from that event was the footage from a news reel showing luxury homes ablaze, with one in particular with its wooden roof on fire while a news helicopter circled overhead. That in itself wouldn’t have been surprising, since the entire neighborhood looked the same, except that the film crew, inside of the helicopter, was broadcasting live footage when it spotted a man running back into the burning home. As the crew continued to film, the man came back out of the home holding something in his hands. Now remember that the home that was already ablaze when he re-entered it, and it was completely engulfed in flames.

A few minutes later, the news crew that was covering the scene from a position on the ground caught up with him and asked why he risked his life to re-enter the burning building. The questions basically revolved around what could have been that valuable to him. I know when I watched this on live TV I thought it must have been jewels or cash, or something very valuable. However, as it turned out, the man owned a string of dry cleaners and he had returned to save several cartridge type tapes that contained all of his business and tax records.

As I remembered this event I realized that, like many of you who are reading this, I have a bunch of toys that contain important data and files that I would hate to lose. So I took an inventory of what I consider my prized electronic devices and tried to determine just how important this stuff was and if the loss of this data would impact my life beyond repair.


The first device I thought of was my Android smartphone. To protect the data on this device I use a program called App Backup and Restore, which is available through the Android Market.

This application backs up all of the data and applications you have installed onto your SD card. I don’t stop here, though; I take the backup further and transfer all of the backup files and data from my SD card over to my personal laptop computer. Once this backup is complete, I then transfer this data, along with other important data from my laptop, to the cloud for storage. This way, if my smartphone is destroyed, my data and important information is safely stored in the cloud and can be restored to a new smartphone.

Laptop or Desktop Computer

Next would be my laptop computer. I don’t doubt that all of you are aware of the importance of backups. If not, you are either new to the technological age or stupid. Enough said. However, you may not have thought about storing your files in cloud storage, which is the safest way to protect your important files.

Tablet Computers

Tablet computers are great, and since iTunes keeps track of the Apple apps you have purchased and Amazon takes care of your Kindle, everything is automatically saved on the cloud for you. What’s to lose? If you use Gmail, even your contacts and emails are safely stored for you.

Personal and Residential Photographs

What is the First Gadget You Would Save in a Fire?In an age where digital cameras and cameras on our cellphones are so prolific, why would we not want our precious photographs protected? I know that I still appreciate having actual framed prints of our children and grandchildren and would find their loss devastating if I didn’t have a means of having them reprinted. This is brought home to me every time I see news footage of a house fire with the homeowner sifting through the rubble that is left. When interviewed, I don’t recall anyone saying that they miss their Wii or other toy, but rather that they count their blessings that their family’s lives were spared. When pressed further, they often mention that they wish that they had been able to save their photographs, but that most everything else was replaceable. If that is truly the case, then I would recommend that you take precautions before destruction strikes by having your photographs copied and then storing them in a safe place, such as a bank safety deposit box.

You should also know, along this same vein, that pictures of the interior and exterior of your residence are among the most important files that you need to store offsite. This is important whether you own your residence or rent, because documenting (with photographs) is your best evidence when making a claim to your insurance company. It will need proof that you actually owned a 65″ 1080p HD TV, not to mention the fact that you lost 25 pairs of shoes or a Star Trek collection worth $1000. Then remember, too, things like the dishes, pots and pans, and curtains — all of which we use in our daily living and can be just as expensive as the gadgets and other electronics we treasure so dearly.

My point is this: If you wouldn’t run back into a burning home to save a precious frying pan, why would you go back in to save a gadget? If you were to decide to rush back into a burning home to save a gadget, what would that gadget be?

Comments, as always, are welcome.