This is it. The moment you’ve dreaded. The unexpected has finally happened. Either:
- The internet has collapsed
- Your government has suddenly declared it illegal to access the internet
- Everything around you is being retroactively edited or censored
If only you had hoarded all of that freely available information!
What is data hoarding?
Hoarding is the obsessive compulsion to accumulate a variety of items, whether or not they are useful in the long run. The most well-known instance of this behavior is compulsive hoarding, which is the obsessive acquisition of physical objects. This practice is harmful in many ways and can affect a person’s health, economic situation, and productivity. In fact, you most likely know it from the aptly named TV series Hoarders.
Data hoarding—also known as digital hoarding—on the other hand, is the practice of collecting or archiving excessive amounts of data. While it may share similar traits to physical hoarding, it is not recognised as a medical condition as it does not manifest in physical clutter.
For this article, we’ll be focusing on the archival aspects of data hoarding rather than on the issue of clutter.
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Whether you’re archiving for posterity, avoiding censorship, or preparing for the collapse of the internet, it’s never too late to start data hoarding.
Who hoards data? And why?
There’s a pretty active and awesome data hoarding community over on Reddit that outlines several reasons for curating data. This includes: “Legal requirements, competitive requirements, uncertainty of permanence of cloud services, distaste for transmitting your data externally (e.g. government or corporate espionage), cultural and familial archivists, internet collapse preppers, and people who do it themselves so they’re sure it’s done right.”
In one of the most recent instances of archiving for posterity, the folks at r/DataHoarder archived a whopping 1,013.12 GB of live streams and social-media posts surrounding the storming of the United States Capitol.
If you want to start your journey towards data hoarding and digital archiving, this subreddit is the place to start!
While it isn’t as detrimental to individuals as hoarding physical items, data hoarding may lead to several unwanted side effects that can include accumulation of an excessive amount of hard drives, increased power consumption—especially when it comes to online storage—and an increased cybersecurity risk.
Best things to download off the internet
Kiwix is a free and open-source browser and offline browser. It was originally created to serve as an offline reader for Wikipedia, but has now expanded to include content from the entire Wikimedia Foundation, TED Talks, and Khan Academy among others. Kiwix has found a lot of success in remote parts of the world where a steady internet connection is not possible including inland rural areas and out at sea.
Download the Kiwix browser here, content libraries here, and custom apps here.
The Internet Archive is a universal library that provides universal and free access to a variety of media including books, magazines, movies, TV shows, music, images, software, and games. It is one of the largest libraries in the world and is a huge repository for public domain and creative commons content.
Learn how to download media from the Internet Archive here.
YouTube is a great resource for user-generated content. Whether it’s how-to guides, tutorials, or classes on a variety of topics, YouTube has an endless supply of content. It’s also perfect for discovering video podcasts and discussions on topics that interest you.
Download YouTube content with youtube-dl or 4K Download.
You can also rip media from websites by using download managers like JDownloader, Xtreme Download Manager, and Advanced Download Manager.
GOG also has a great selection of free offline games to download here.
From a personal technology standpoint, one takeaway from the shift to remote working during the Covid-19 lockdowns has been the need to be able to repair our own devices. The issue that consumers faced during this period was that many licensed technicians were forced to shut down, leaving devices unusable.
Let’s take that one step further. What if one of the scenarios listed at the beginning of this article were to happen? How would you repair your personal technology then? How would you repair microwaves, vacuum cleaners, or refrigerators?
Enter iFixit, a manual repository with over 70,000 free manuals for almost every conceivable piece of technology that you would interact with on a daily basis.
Search through iFixit’s extensive lists and download relevant manuals here.
What about nature and survival guides? Thanks to the diligent work from the folks over at r/Survival, an extensive free survival library is available here.
It’s not a secret that this writer is a fan of Linux for everyday use. Linux is a family of free and open-source operating systems that are highly customizable. There are thousands of distributions, each developed for different audiences. One of the best things about Linux, from an archiving perspective, is that distributions tend to be much lighter than proprietary operating systems like Windows and macOS. Keeping a selection of stable Linux distros on hand is a handy way to circumvent any issues that may arise when using a proprietary operating system long-term.
Not only do we suggest you collect several Linux distributions, but we also recommend that you switch over to Linux entirely. Plus, if you choose one with long-term support, it’ll require very little maintenance. It’s also a good idea to keep a live Linux USB on hand to troubleshoot any Windows issues you’re facing.
Check out our guide on downloading and installing various Linux distributions here.
Maybe you want to keep a journal of societal collapse, maybe you want to chronicle your journey out on the ocean, or maybe you want to collect your thoughts in solitude high up in the Andes. Well, you can’t do that without a productivity suite. If you have a Windows or Mac machine, you’ll most likely have access to some form of Microsoft Office or iWork but these may require updates or license renewals over time. Opting for a free and open-source alternative can ensure a longer product lifetime.
Our favorite is OnlyOffice Docs, which provides a document editor (analogous to Microsoft Word/iWork Pages), presentation editor (analogous to Microsoft PowerPoint/iWork Keynote), and spreadsheet editor (analogous to Microsoft Excel/iWork Numbers).
Get OnlyOffice Docs here.
Backup the data you’ve hoarded
One of the most common backup strategies is called the 3-2-1 rule which states that you should have:
- 3 copies of your data
- 2 of those copies being backups stored on different types of media
- 1 of those backups stored remotely
This is ideally something that you could start working on now. Who knows how much data you’ve already accumulated? The more you have, the longer this will take so start now!
Read more: How to back up your files and encrypt them
It’s a relief knowing that there’s nothing at all odd about my growing collection of HDDs all backed up in triplicate. Only 27 HDDs…60 terabytes or so of random video games, movies, technical manuals, text books, art of all types, and at least one really amazing meatloaf recipe. Nothing strange about it.
So…where can we get a copy of this recipe?