by Anonymous 411, The Organic Prepper:
Most of the information discussed in these articles will be electronic files – specifically PDF and TIF files. This article will discuss how to safely store these files and use them before and after the SHTF.
Portable Storage of the Library
What I need to be able to do is read PDF and view TIF (graphic) files using my cell phone. It would be best if I could read these files from a USB drive, or secondarily, from a miniSD card. The plan would be that I would copy these files from my computer to these storage (USB and/or microSD) devices. I will sometimes call the information stored on these devices as the “Library”.
I like the Corsair Flash Survivor Stealth USB 3.0 Flash Drives because the USB drive is built into an “armored” case. The case appears to me to be made out of steel and rubber and is shock resistant with a water seal. These devices are about 3 inches long and about 1 inch in diameter. I have carried 2 of these devices in my pocket, along with my EDC (every day carry) stuff, for over a year now. My grandson carried the one I gave him on his keychain. The paint is a little worn but the devices still work fine. I have two 256 GB drives.
Here are the things that didn’t work:
I can carry thousands of PDF and other computer files with me everywhere I go. I just needed a portable device to read them with. Read on and I will tell you about my struggles finding a portable device to read these drives with.
My current cell phone is an Apple 4S. It has no capability to store computer files, nor any way to read files even if it did. I searched diligently for a cable with a female USB connector, into which I could plug my above-described USB drives, and that would plug into the connector on my phone. I never found one. Given that I never found a cable that even if I made up such a cable myself, which I didn’t, there would be no software with which to read the files.
Prior to the Apple 4S phone, I had an Android phone that I could copy a few files into from my computer, but storage was limited. Not the solution I really wanted.
From this experience, I decided what I really needed was a small tablet device. On Father’s Day in 2017, I was in a Barnes and Noble store and saw they had their new Nook 3.0 device (an Android device) on sale for only $40. Never having had a tablet I thought “Ah, a small tablet and only $40, wow.”, so I purchased one. This Nook accepted a microSD card, up to 128GB, as removable external storage. Thinking this was the solution to my problem I ordered a 128GB microSD card and loaded it up with files copied from my Windows computer. When I inserted the card into the Nook I could not make the Nook recognize the card. It seems that Android devices do not recognize the drive formatting used by Microsoft. Not finding a solution to my problem online, I wrote a letter to the Barnes and Noble CEO asking how I could make this work. I got a call back from a very nice young man in a few weeks who explained that with recent changes in the Android operating system no Android device will read devices with this Microsoft formatting. Clearly, they want you to buy their files. Well, the files I want to read with my portable device are not available from such sources.
Finally, a solution
A few months later I was having a new DVR installed by my satellite provider and I was telling the tech this story. He suggested that I go to Best Buy and tell them what I wanted. So I carried my USB drives and my miniSD card to Best Buy and explained what I wanted and he pointed to a tablet and said: “There’s your solution”.
What he pointed to was an Insignia (Best Buy’s house brand) Model NS-P11W7100 that runs Microsoft Windows 10. I thought “Ah, a Windows tablet!” I had not even realized there were Windows tablets!
Best Buy tablet, USB Type C to USB female Type A adapter plugged into the USB Type C power supply port, 4 port USB hub with 2 Corsair flash drives and their tops.
The device includes a detachable keyboard, which contains 2 USB 3.0 ports. The screen/tablet portion contains 1 microSD 128GB port. At $200 it is more expensive than the Nook, but IT DOES WHAT I NEED!!!
At $200 I could afford to buy a couple of spares to hide away in EMP proof Faraday cages. There is a USB Type C (small) port in the tablet (screen) unit that is used for charging, but it is a full USB 3.0 port for data as well.
The machine comes with a USB Type C cable that plugs into a wall wart type charger unit. To charge the machine with a solar panel, car charger or another device, you will need a USB Type C to USB male Type A adapter cable. Best Buy sells the NS-MCAB4 4′ cable for $19.99. Their NS-PU396CA-WH cable USB Type C to USB female Type A adapter for $9.99 attaching a single USB drive. An NS-PCH6430 4-Port USB 3.0 Hub provides additional flexibility.
Beware: Best Buy has an identical looking product called Model NS-P11W8100 that is less expensive but uses the Android OS. This device won’t work with the Microsoft formatted USB drives, so I don’t recommend it.
I started downloading these files two years ago, long before I found the tablet described above. So I devised a folder structure (I’ll describe that in Part 3). I download everything to my laptop and copy to the Corsair drives in big gulps later. I cut and paste a lot of survival articles and save. I’ve been doing that with Microsoft Word so being able to read Word documents with the tablet was originally a requirement.
Microsoft Word and Excel come installed in the Best Buy tablet, but you have to buy a separate $150 product to activate them. I decided not to buy that upgrade so I now save my cut and pasted documents directly to PDF document using the “Save As” feature in Word on my laptop. Yes, the PDF documents are much larger than Word files would be but it eliminates the need for Word on the tablet. I never use the tablet on the internet so I won’t have to buy virus software for it either.
However, it occurs to me that some of you might choose to use the tablet as your download platform. If you plan to use Word for cut and paste operations then you will need to buy that upgrade package. If you plan to use the tablet on the internet you will need antivirus software. I use the Trend Micro anti-virus product.
Durability and Spares
There are two problems using electronic devices to store large numbers of books and other data in an SHTF or TEOTWAWKI (The End of The World As We Know It) disaster: Keeping the batteries recharged, and keeping the devices operating for many years.
Now, I don’t know how durable this Best Buy tablet is. I travel very little and this tablet has been sitting in my desk drawer ever since I got it. Durability is a big issue for a device upon which the fate of civilization may rest. Given what I know about what is commercially available today, I think I would rather have some model of the Panasonic Toughbook. A few of these stored away in secure Faraday cages, with spare parts, batteries, chargers and complete field level and depot level repair tools and documentation would be enough to last many years.