All my data - what happens when I die…

JedNZ

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Dec 6, 2015
372
141
Deep South
Ok, don't fret - I'm planning on living a long life (at this rate, at least by the time macOS 11.x.x is released (lol). But I've come to thinking about what plans I need to have in place if something happened to me, how my family will carry on without losing my Photos, Videos and everything else in iCloud and on the devices and computers we have.

So I have a 2TB iCloud subscription. I have all my Photos library (plus videos) backup up. My primary machine is a cMP 4,1 > 5,1 - it's been updated and modernised with SSDs, NVME, modern GPU etc. My Photo Library is on this and it contains all of the pics and vids (I have enough storage not to have to optimise the space). I have an iPhone and an iPad and both are set up to share and sync with my iCloud. My wife and kids also share my iCloud storage with Family Sharing, so I only pay one amount each month.

So what happens if I die? Will my wife be able to take over my iCloud account? Does she just update the credit card details, and make some other subtle changes in order to keep it going? Or does she have to close my account, and then use her iCloud account to sync my Photo Library on the cMP (she has her own user account on the cMP)?

Luckily everything (files, documents, downloads etc) is on the cMP, with 5 sets of backups (NAS, external and internal backups and TM). At least two of the backups are backed up to the last week - TM is constant.

My big concern is thinking about what happens to all this data, those precious memories, when I'm gone. What instructions do I need to give my wife and/or kids? What does they need to do to ensure OUR photos and videos, and my documents and emails, all survive?

And thinking even further out, after my wife and I are both gone, how will our data be saved for future generations of our family? What a colossal amount of data it could amount to, and will this add extra burden to future family members to feel they have to maintain and store it?

What long term storage options are ahead for us? Will it go into a public accessible library, or be restricted to just authorised family members?

Sounds morbid, but just thinking ahead. The generations before my parents had little to pay on (no data of course, just memorabilia and trinkets), but I expect my siblings and me to inherit 2TB of data once my parents pass on. How are families planning for the safe keeping of data?

Thoughts, ideas and advice welcomed.
 

Audit13

macrumors 601
Apr 19, 2017
4,386
1,103
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Apple has updated their terms & conditions: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/10681938/Apple-attacked-for-refusing-iPad-help-to-grieving-son.html

In February, Apple updated its iCloud terms and conditions which now warn: “You agree that your Account is non-transferable and that any rights to your Apple ID or Content within your Account terminate upon your death.

“Upon receipt of a copy of a death certificate your Account may be terminated and all Content within your Account deleted.'
 
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Le Big Mac

macrumors 68030
Jan 7, 2003
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Washington, DC
. . .
So what happens if I die? Will my wife be able to take over my iCloud account? Does she just update the credit card details, and make some other subtle changes in order to keep it going? Or does she have to close my account, and then use her iCloud account to sync my Photo Library on the cMP (she has her own user account on the cMP)?

. . .
My big concern is thinking about what happens to all this data, those precious memories, when I'm gone. What instructions do I need to give my wife and/or kids? What does they need to do to ensure OUR photos and videos, and my documents and emails, all survive?

And thinking even further out, after my wife and I are both gone, how will our data be saved for future generations of our family? What a colossal amount of data it could amount to, and will this add extra burden to future family members to feel they have to maintain and store it?
The easiest practical thing is to make sure your wife has, or can be provided with, your password or other means to access your iCloud account (and other online accounts), and then can close them or download what's needed from them. Services like Facebook already have a place where you can identify a "survivor" who can close your account (or turn it into a memorial place). You just have to figure out what you want and equip her to do it with whatever instructions you want.

The same thing can be done with respect to your kids/family.

I personally wouldn't use iCloud as the way to transfer all those photos. And I'd also do them a favor and cull your photos down to something manageable for them to have when you do die (presuming there will be a point when you realize your time on earth is short.)
 

Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
17,200
5,544
I wouldn't rely on "the cloud" -- iCloud or anybody else's cloud -- to do what you want to do. Things can become "inaccessible" very easily there.

Get a USB3 hard drive (or better yet, TWO drives). They can be platter-based hard drives or SSDs.

Put the stuff you want to "pass on" on one of the drives.

Then use a cloning app like CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper to create a "second copy" on the OTHER drive. You want a backup in the event the primary drive fails.

Periodically (say, once every 2 or 3 months) connect, mount, and check each drive to be sure each one is still in good working order.

Store these someplace easy-to-find, with printed instructions on how to access them.
Also keep a copy of the instructions with your will and related documents.

Now you have a real, physical "container" for your digital stuff, that your family members can access without trying to "get into" the cloud (which may become impossible, see reply #2 above).

Another scenario:
Get a USB Bluray/DVD/CD drive that also has "M-DISC" burning capability.
Get some M-DISC DVDs or, better yet, 25gb or 50gb Bluray discs.
Now burn the "stuff you want to pass on the most" to M-DISC.

Unlike dye-based optical media, M-DISC uses non-dye media that won't degrade over time.
M-DISCS are touted to have a "readability life" of hundreds of years.
 
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JedNZ

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Dec 6, 2015
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141
Deep South
Thanks for the advice. I forget to mention that my complete data size is 2.1TB, with the Photo Library around 300GB. I use TM for hourly backups, and CCC to backup everything every week to an internal HDD plus two external HDDs, plus a fortnightly NAS backup - and iCloud.

I suppose an external SSD would be better than a spinner HDD for longevity sake. But with the recent, fairly short lifespan between interface standards (USB 2 to USB 3 and 3.1, Thunderbolt to Thunderbolt 3, the now obsolescence of SCSI and more recently FireWire 400/800 etc) we would want to be careful that the standard we chose will last a reasonably long time so that me (and family of course) will still be able to access it looking well ahead (I.e. the future computers we buy have ports that are still backwards compatible with whatever ports are on the backup drive).

Good point about passwords and instructions. I’ve started writing a list of technical things my wife will need to be aware of: what I would like her to keep and preserve, what can be let go, what she can do with my small museum of Mac software and hardware and to best dispose of it (what it’s worth, auction/giveaway etc).

I wonder whether our the technologies our ancestors used for recording information might well last longer than the binary systems we use - that is, tablets of stone, books etc - may well outlive our computers. And I ponder how historians throughout time have navigated the perplexing problem of how to preserve and store information that came before them, as well as what they have captured in their own period. History, technology, median all converging for the sake of posterity.

Maybe I have to accept that we can’t keep everything for future generations, or even presume they will be interested in what we think is of value or interest. And maybe I have to accept...I’m a digital hoarder.
 

Le Big Mac

macrumors 68030
Jan 7, 2003
2,586
157
Washington, DC
I wonder whether our the technologies our ancestors used for recording information might well last longer than the binary systems we use - that is, tablets of stone, books etc - may well outlive our computers. And I ponder how historians throughout time have navigated the perplexing problem of how to preserve and store information that came before them, as well as what they have captured in their own period. History, technology, median all converging for the sake of posterity.
Probably yes. Just as an anecdote, I worked on a government report about 10 years ago. We printed nice books of the report, and included a CD-ROM in the back so people could search the report on their computer (plus a bunch of extra materials). We sent some of the books to the government archives. Pretty sure that if anyone ever digs into that archival material they'll be reading the paper not trying to fuss with the CD-ROM.
 
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960design

macrumors 68030
Apr 17, 2012
2,820
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Destin, FL
Thoughts, ideas and advice welcomed.
Pay for a simple website to remotely host your precious data.
You can go high speed and setup an authenticated site to keep your memories hidden from only the people you give access to. Be sure to put account information in your will.

PS. To be candid, you'll be dead. At that point, you will no longer be concerned with memories. So, no worries.
 
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Apple fanboy

macrumors Nehalem
Feb 21, 2012
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Behind the Lens, UK
Print your photos. That’s the only way to guarantee images get passed on for generations to come. Make a photo book, add names etc.

Even if the tech still works in years to come, are your grandkids or great grandkids going to bother going through your 4/6/8/30 TB hard drive, even if they have your password (and a user interface that will connect to your drive).

As for cloud services I’ll pass.
 
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AlliFlowers

Contributor
Jan 1, 2011
4,433
8,435
L.A. (Lower Alabama)
When my dad died, I had all his passwords, or at least enough that I could change the passwords that weren't available so that I could get into all his accounts. That way it was easy to close credit card accounts, stop auto payments, stuff like that. And that's the important part. So make sure your loved ones can access your email at the very least.

Dad was a photog, and had close to a TB of pictures. After 4 years of debate, we're letting most of them go. I'd rather have had a few more photos of him in them, than thousands of pictures of The Great Wall.
 
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Apple fanboy

macrumors Nehalem
Feb 21, 2012
32,820
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Behind the Lens, UK
When my dad died, I had all his passwords, or at least enough that I could change the passwords that weren't available so that I could get into all his accounts. That way it was easy to close credit card accounts, stop auto payments, stuff like that. And that's the important part. So make sure your loved ones can access your email at the very least.

Dad was a photog, and had close to a TB of pictures. After 4 years of debate, we're letting most of them go. I'd rather have had a few more photos of him in them, than thousands of pictures of The Great Wall.
Well as a photographer myself I can guarantee there aren’t too many selfies in my drives either!
But then again I’m not likely to have to worry about passing stuff on!



Both my wife and I know each other’s passwords. But she knows nothing of how technology works, and I know nothing of how her FB and other accounts work!
 

phunigai

Suspended
Nov 12, 2018
193
187
Our family, well mostly me ....have shoe boxes of black and white photos of who know who is what or where they are in these faded scenes because they are of places and things from 1930-1960 and most of those people are gone. There are 5 cameras that are useless because the film, batteries and just overall results of the photos are obsolete, I want to toss then but i know my relatives might wonder about these useless photos, and want to know where they are, not like they will do anything about them. this is hard to wonder why we wasted time money and space just for a second of enjoyment or keeping up with the jones as afar as being supreme with our instant cameras. I mention this everything i bring home means some other slob had to deal with the item. I guess my flickr account is a great way to keep these photos for ever for the solar system to enjoy and marvel at my cat, a flying Huron and those high speed trains headed to left corner of the page without a grandson staring at boxes of photos realizing they other productive tasks to accomplish, so my answer to that question would be .....NO!
 

slotcarbob

macrumors member
Jun 4, 2006
49
3
Believe it or not, few will care about what's precious to you. Go with the double backup, TM and clone is best IMO, and that's the best you can do. Give your family the password/s to unlock anything. Set down a file with instructions and info. Keep that online if you like, and tell them how to get to it.
 
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