As a way of backing up big amounts of data (about 1-2 TB) I thought it's good idea to bury a hard disk drive (in a damage-preventing shell) to be able to dig it later and read all the data from it if all other backups are gone (for example, if my laptop is stolen and my house is exploded). But I'm wondering if it's really a good idea, or I'm missing some important drawbacks of such method. Some people tell that in case of an emergency situation the disk is going to die from electromagnetic radiation. How should I protect my hard drive then?

(I'm not sure, maybe this question should be posted on Physics instead. If so, please, move it)

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    If you want a good solution to backing up data long term you should look at all the existing solutions. The amount you are wanting to back up is very small if you can do it on one hard drive, so rather than bury a disk (which is not one of the recommended solutions) use simple distributed storage.
    – Rory Alsop
    Mar 2, 2014 at 10:23
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    Yes, but it's better if it will be accessible even when I have no chance to access the Internet. Mar 2, 2014 at 11:55
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    But why would you have come up with the idea of burying it? What kind of emergency would kill the hard drive with electromagnetic radiation? If you're thinking major disaster like EMP from a nuclear explosion, you may have higher priorities...
    – Rory Alsop
    Mar 2, 2014 at 12:41
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    Kudos, I have never seen a question quite as strange as this one. What if the radiation creates mutant groundhogs who attack your house and swallow your backup drive as they come towards it? Or what if, when the saboteur who exploded your house learns that the data is still intact, your hard drive is targeted as well? The obvious solution is to encase the disk in a lead sphere of sufficient size that it cannot be swallowed by a 20-30 foot groundhog.
    – KnightOfNi
    Mar 2, 2014 at 15:24

1 Answer 1


for example, if my laptop is stolen and my house is exploded

I suggest that the initial test run involve renting a safe deposit box at a nearby bank to do your offsite backup storage in. This is probably the best answer as well.

If you want to get fancy, get a larger safe deposit box and pack the HD in an anti-static bag, then in a small layer of protective foam or other material, then a small Pelican or Otterbox case, then more protective foam/etc, then a larger Pelican/Otterbox case, then in the safe deposit box.

As a bonus, you can actually have two or three drives in play. One at your main location with regular backups, one at the bank safe deposit box (optional third "in transit" box so all your backups are never, ever in the same place), and then you can rotate your backups, keeping them fresh.

Or bury it on your own land, I suppose. If you choose to try the burying insanity, be certain to call your local underground line finder first - your hitting a water pipe, gas main, telephone line, cable line, buried electric line, decayed old sewer line, and so on and so forth when you dig is often a MAJOR legal/liability blunder, expensive, and quite frankly dangerous or possibly disgusting.

die from electromagnetic radiation

That's outside the scope of this answer, and won't be caused by stolen laptops or burned down/blown up houses - start by looking into Faraday Cages. These can be nested in the previously mentioned Pelican/Otterbox scenario - research how to best do that.

P.S. Encrypt your backups, of course, in case the drive is stolen in transit to or from the bank (or your car is stolen, or someone digs up your hole).

  • Yeah, I think I'm going to bury it on my own land, because banks can't be trusted when entire government is broken (which is more than possible scenario in my country now). There are no pipes or any kind of lines, for sure. The question is — how to allow the hard drive to live as long as possible under ground (without using very expensive stuff). Mar 3, 2014 at 11:47
  • The same answer as above - anti-static bags and then foam in nested Pelican/Otterbox/other waterproof, crushproof cases. Mar 4, 2014 at 1:25

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