Instructables
I don't know about you but I like to be prepared. I don't always do a good job at actually preparing, but I think about it a lot. Let's look at an instructable for an emergency USB thumb drive. This instructable is about what's on the drive, not how crazy it looks,

WHAT-
This instructable should give you all the knowledge you need to prepare an emergency USB thumb drive that you can keep in your wallet at all times. It will be there for you when you need it and believe me, you will need it. You'll pat yourself on the back the first time you remember it there. It is there, isn't it?

WHY-
Why do this? We'll we live in an uncertain world. All you have to do is turn on the tube and watch the news to know that the world is going to hell, fast! Speaking from a personal perspective, I can't change world events single handed, but I can cover my own butt and maybe make the task of providing information to someone or some entity easier on me. Remember trying to pull info together for an application or form to fill out? A little stressful right? What if you house burned down, got copies of all your records?

I also considered putting all this information up in the cloud (the internet) but I'm not yet comfortable with the security aspect and one other important thing, you need a broadband connection, not available everywhere yet.

WHO-
You, or someone able to use a computer, digital camera, scanner, the internet, you get the picture. Here's a thought- provide this service for your elderly parents or someone who isn't digitally gifted. It will make you feel real good.

WHERE-
Right on your computer. It could be Windows, Mac or even from the internet. More and more online services are popping up all the time to perform tasks independent of you desktop. A word of caution though, this instructable is written to favor Windows and many of the portable applications here are Windows only. Sorry my Mac pals.

HOW-
That's what I'm about to share with you. The instructable is broken down into major sections like:

1. Why Choose This Drive
2. Altering the Case
3. Important Contacts
4. Health Records
5. Important Documents
6. Family Photos
7. Home Inventory
8. Music & Video
9. Online Logins & Passwords
10. Vehicle Info
11. Portable Applications
12. Protection & Encryption

Disclaimer: These instructions are meant to be a guide to you in preparing one of these emergency thumb drives of you own. I am passing this knowledge on to you because it has worked for me. I am not liable for any damages or loss of data you may incur due to following or not following these instructions.

Please use common sense and ALWAYS BACK UP YOUR DATA!
 
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McClay148 months ago
If a pick pocket gets ahold of ur wallet you would be in big trouble
Oriyn1 year ago
This step now contains out of date information (very minor issue).

From the iHealthRecord website:

Access to the Medem personal health record website has been discontinued effective August 19, 2011. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

If you have any questions or comments, please email us at healthsupport@intuit.com.
bakdrft1 year ago
great idea! but Im an emergency responder, and if your hurt or injured I surely will NOT look for a USB device to find out if your allergic to PCN. We have no time for such things. Sorry- unless your an important person you will not get such anticipated service.
thetoolman (author)  bakdrft1 year ago
Noted. I should probably wear an allergic bracelet but I thought that including the info couldn't hurt.
To lock it you could use a mini cryptex.
Kirbsome!3 years ago
Great instructable, I've got one pointer though.
Never carry passwords to important sites with you. What if somebody stole your wallet?
What about having basic medical info that could help in a pinch on a dog tag that you wear all the time around your neck under your clothes? What thief is going to look at you and think "I bet he/she has medical info around his/her neck". I don't know isn't that kind of what dog tags were for? Basic info? Yeah store the other stuff in a safety deposit box that's an awesome idea.

As to the "what if patrol" talking about what if your wallet is stolen? Well you can "what if" all night and come up with crazy scenarios for every possible thing that could possibly happen. Ok for the stolen wallet crowd why not carry a dummy wallet and give that to the thief. What? You think after you hand it over they hang out for a minute to see what you've got in there? No they run off a couple blocks and I'm sure if they were mad enough to come back and "get you" (there's another "what if")for duping them with a fake wallet you would have had plenty of time to leave the area before it gets to that point.

I don't know, thoughts?........
Over here, they just shoot/stab you, get all the stuff they can, then run away (if there was police he would have shot the guy already). So a wallet tucked tight in there would be nice (seriously, I saw this guy trying to get his driver's license from his wallet, he couldn't even pull the wallet out). I'll list all possible scenarios I can think off.

1) Thief steals wallet, runs away, you call police.
2) Thief unsuccessfully tries to steal wallet, you improve anti-theft techniques.
3) Guy pulls you into a dark alley, you get held-up by the guy holding a weapon to any vital organ and either: 1) Just kills you on the spot and takes your stuff 2) Takes your stuff then runs away 3) Takes you hostage
4) You forgot where you placed your wallet with the USB in it.
5) USB somehow gets destroyed.
6) Data somehow becomes corrupt.

I dunno what else. Other than if you had some kind of impairment, anything is possible, it's just the chances of it happening is kinda tiny. So yeah any scenario you come up with should have a countermeasure. If the scenario was aliens abducting you then why need a countermeasure? They just abduct you then throw you into some random place in the world. They won't care about 2GB of data. It's possible, but unlikely.

PS. Dog tag around neck could be used to choke you to death, unless it was designed to break if excessive force is applied. But then you would lose it. Wrist tag recommended.
PPS. There is such a thing as a psychologically unstable thief you know. The guy could be so crazy you have a dog tag or something.
For the crazies that's the exact reason I carry a gun.
Moonrabbit5 years ago
I've considered things like this myself. But more educational materials than personal records. autonomousoperations would appreciate the Fallout reference here. If you were to assemble a kit with instructions on reestablishing infrastructure, if say a generation were to pass before you were able to start rebuilding. What information would you want that next generation of have available to them? On a smaller scale for personal use, what information would you want to have on hand if there were a cataclysm, you didn't have broad access to books, internet was gone, etc? Farming techniques, designs for generators, turbines, edible plants, medical techniques. Whatever you can think of. Black and white diagrams and documents take up so little space. You could fit books upon books on an 8gb drive. Just another thing to consider.
I'd recommend the SAS Survival Guide, and the collection of army field manual available on most torrent sites. Also Peterson's Guide to Edible Wild Plants.
I love that SAS guide. Have a hard copy stuck in my trunk Just In Case. On a practical level, choose your electronic instruments for battery life. For example... don't get the Google G1 phone. Your batteries are drained by the end of one day. I hate it. On the other hand, an old Palm IIIC, while it doesn't have a whole lot of space (8mg?) can run for at least a week before dying. Laptops, eh... maybe a couple hours. Even with a UPS you're not going to last long if there is no electricity at all and you don't have a generator, solar, turbine, etc.
Another good choice is the USAF survival manual. Lots of mountain climbing methods in it, also celestial navigation with just an accurate watch for starters. "Bushcraft" by Richard Graves WWII Australian manual, Good.

Get a 12v power supply that plugs into a car cigarette lighter.
I guess you would have to have faith that the EMP/Flooding/Lack of power would not make all the computers into doorstops. If you are assuming cataclysm, a time capsule with lots of microfilm/fiche and a portable reader is the only way to go. Media that are only readable by complex electronic devices is not a good contingency plan.
man, you are sooooooooo right
but then, if all technology is destroyed, how would we read these USB drives?
"On a smaller scale for personal use, what information would you want to have on hand if there were a cataclysm, you didn't have broad access to books, internet was gone, etc? Farming techniques, designs for generators, turbines, edible plants, medical techniques. Whatever you can think of. Black and white diagrams and documents take up so little space. You could fit books upon books on an 8gb drive." Well, assuming that you are in such a scrape, you probably aren't going to have any electricity, which means that you're hosed as soon as your batteries run out. If you truly must be prepared for a major inconvenience, you would probably want a microfische reader that you can hand crank and read via sunlight or candle light. Microfische takes up more room, true, but does have the advantage that if you were tossed onto Gilligan's Island you could read Robinson Crusoe or Lord of the Flies with no problem, and be able to look up all sorts of recipes for bananas and seafood.
Once things had settled down a bit, I don't think it would be that hard to get electricity. I mean just look at all the instructables on power generation. There's no shortage of card and batteries, use a car charger, pocket solar chargers are available anywhere now, wind turbines, or hook a generator up to a waterwheel.
tensegrity5 years ago
Good instructable! TrueCrypt is more than adequate to secure this data against it falling into the wrong hands, especially since TrueCrypt can create a hidden volume that resides inside of a normal encrypted volume, and just looks like unused space. You put the most sensitive data in the hidden volume, and then the less sensitive data (the photos, music, etc) in the normal encrypted area. The emergency medical info and emergency contacts remain unencrypted. If pickpockets or random criminals can beat AES encryption then we've all got much more serious problems.
that is very true....but someone will invent something more protective like quantum cryptography
Someone has! (Link) But this sort of encryption is only useful for secure connections to another computer for example online banking uses a form of encryption.
stib tensegrity5 years ago
Good point. Of course the problem with cryptography is pretty well summed up here
aloseman stib5 years ago
Yeah, that whole beat him till we get the password thing works well, but that's why TruCrypt, and tensegrity say to put the ACTUAL sensitive data inside a hidden encrypted volume inside the unhidden encrypted volume. Without the password, the hidden one can't be seen, even when looking at the headers (I'm forgetting the correct term, I think), it just looks "encrypted", not specifically the hidden or unhidden volume.
MMmm...I'd use a microsd card instead
macrumpton5 years ago
The big problem is that if you are unconscious then you can't give the password to unlock the most important info, on the other hand you do not want to leave it unprotected in case it is stolen. Perhaps getting a tattoo of the password on part of your body where only medical professionals could find it (when giving you a spongebath). Although if you are going the tattoo route you could skip the flash drive completely and have the url of a website with all your info on it (password protect the parts that are private). That way you do not have to worry about theft or damage to the drive, although having two tattoos in different parts of your body might be good in case of damage to the body part with the URL.
If you're going to go the tattoo route, why not tatt a barcode with a medicalert symbol that takes you directly to a secure website? Or engrave said barcode on your medicalert bracelet/necklace? Just a thought...

I agree, having that PI on a flash in your wallet, encrypted or not, sounds INSANE to me! There are thieves in every generation, and computer-savvy kids CAN and WILL try to break into a stolen flash, just for the challenge, if not whatever might be on it. Great idea for a safe-deposit box or trusted family member though, and a great instuctable!

scott!5 years ago
This is a good idea, I need to do this!
stuuf5 years ago
For the health records/phone numbers/etc, I would recommend using simple or at least well known data formats and character sets, so that anyone should already have software to read them, instead of including the software on the drive. Would YOU run random executable code you found on a corpse (or injured person)?
hammer98765 years ago
Great instructable. My only concern is that emergency medical services (EMS) aren't going to be looking for information on a thumb drive. Let's hope they all use their down time to surf Instructables. Seriously, though, cue commercial for Road ID (www.roadid.com) They have an identification tag that sends EMS to the Internet with a serial number and pin number. EMS are trained to look for such tags, bracelets, pendents, etc. Always carry identification. You never know when you are going to step off the curb and get hit by a bus. You will be transferred to the hospital where they will demand money to cover your deductible while you are lying there in pain. (Voice of experience.)
jchar775 years ago
Just imagine what Could happen if you lost it, or someone nicked it. I would put some sort of password or encryption software on the usb as well. You just never know...
zomfibame5 years ago
that is a very good idea to put health info in a thumb drive like that. (also, what is that funky Buck Rogers Space-ship lookin' car? and how do I get one?
Pray to the gods of the Internet. And NASA. And Wall Street.
benz_z cyrozap5 years ago
ur missing my favorite the god of blatant commercialism (and msn spellin)
cyrozap benz_z5 years ago
Isn't polytheism great?
benz_z cyrozap5 years ago
yup the best... if things go wrong start making commercial (stuff) sacrifices to them gods i recently dropped the god of wallstreet cuse hes down 4 a wile and is a little out of it ( and is demanding hedge fund managers blood)
thetoolman (author)  zomfibame5 years ago
Transport yourself into the future man!
oilpaint25 years ago
I have made one just for medical emergencies, with the medic alert symbol on it. I have attached it to necklace that I wear around my neck.
cornflaker5 years ago
Imagine if it wasn't encrypted and got stolen
rkhanso5 years ago
Why not just use your Palm T|X (in my case) or other Palm handheld device. This way, you have all your data, plus a way to display it if you don't have access to a PC. Your Palm T|X can use SD cards up to 2GB each and has built-in WiFI and Bluetooth in case you're able to get an Internet connection. At minimum, you have data/programs, calendar, clock, ebook reader, much more right at your fingertips in any emergency. As for powering it if there's a power grid failure - rig up a solar charger for the Palm battery.
RaNDoMLeiGH5 years ago
There is some merit to this for emergency purposes but not a whole lot for a paramedic trying to treat you on the scene. For that purpose, they WILL pull out your wallet and look for your ID and other important pieces of paper. If you're wanting to have this information available you should also have a card with your flash drive stuck to it and instructions on how to access the past medical records. But if you're in such a bad state that they need this information, they're going to be physically working on you and not surfing your flash drives. Make it easily accessable and DON'T put all your secure data in one place. *I* will come steal your wallet myself just to teach you not to do that.

We were burgled at the beginning of February. They stole my cell phone, my computer, all my flash drives, my PDA, and a number of other things containing important information. Including car keys and wallet. No, it was not cheap to get the car rekeyed (go to a locksmith, not the dealer, if this happens to you), but that was the least of my problems.

I am self-employed, so with my phone, laptop, flash drives, and PDA gone, they also got all my work that had not made it to a recent backup. As a photographer, this doubly sucked, because I have joined the digital revolution and have no film backups. Fortunately I have an online email account and was able to rebuild some of my client records, but not all.

Just a few photos are on Flickr and Myspace but for the most part I lost all photos of family, friends, and inventory (since my last backup) when they stole the computer. Back. Up. Your. Photos.

I was prepared for a crash, not a theft... all my info was backed up here and there, my bookmarks on a flash drive with portable mozilla, etc. I also keep a paper log of my cell phone contacts but it had been a while since I printed them out. The phone I had accepted a memory card but it was a weird size (MMC) so I didn't have one. I replaced my phone with one that takes a miniSD, so now I have two -- one in the phone doing whatever it does, the other being kept somewhere safe.

For that matter, it wouldn't hurt to copy your phone book to one of your family member's SIM cards. You can choose not to see all those contacts in your phone book, but if your phone goes away, someone you presumably trust will have a copy of your phone book.

Fortunately they left the USB hard drives behind. I was able to recover some of my information, but the backup I had done in January turned out to be corrupt, and the one before that was from September (which is really sloppy on my part). I was able to reinstall software by emailing the companies I bought it from with my receipt information (yay, online email) and so be able to use the programs again.

While I could get back on my feet as fast as the shock of being robbed allowed, the permanent loss of personal information and work documents has taught me something very, very important:

Keep your backups OFFSITE.

We have gone through and scanned receipts and serial numbers and put hard copies of them in a notebook, as well as PDF on two flash drives. One drive is at the bank in a nice spanking new safe deposit box, while the other is here at the house. The bank is just down the street so it's easy to go over there with the laptop and copy over the information to the one that stays in the box. The other one stays with the laptop which now comes upstairs with me when I go to bed (we were home when our stuff was taken) and in the trunk of the car when we leave the house.

The idea of putting personal records on a flash drive and then carrying that around (encrypted or not) is just insane. However, putting them on a flash drive and making a couple of backup DVDs for your parents and trusted contacts to hold onto in the event of your demise is not a bad idea, especially in the case of irreplaceable photos.

When I was in school I kept a separate floppy of each class (way before flash drives!) and copied the class notes to the disc after every class. A couple of times that saved my butt -- once my laptop flew out of a jeep when it rolled, and another time (or two) when the hard drive crashed. I would have failed classes if not for the backups. I can't believe that I've gotten so lax about making sure that my important data doesn't get backed up.

So, your lists of things to keep copies of is really great, especially for people who live in weather incident prone locations (like me, I live in Oklahoma = tornadoes). Scanning things and keeping them as PDFs cuts down on space that would be wasted if the docs were kept as JPG files. Putting them on a flash drive means that you can easily update them. It would be better to also burn discs (at least 2) that can't accidentally get erased or crash.

I wouldn't bother to copy music, since you can download a new copy of just about anything you lose, but that's up to you. I had some music on my laptop but I had the CDs in the closet anyway, so no loss. But the idea of keeping a copy of tax forms, employment records, etc is an excellent idea, especially if your physical records are destroyed by fire, flood, theft, or rampaging hoardes of zombies.
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