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Storage unit clean

Tips for Keeping Your Storage Unit Clean

Storage units are great for taking care of both clutter and other items you don’t have room for in your home. Unfortunately, once they are in the unit they are just sitting there. The scourge that is dust and dirt takes its toll over time. Dust can ruin items and be a health hazard when said items return to your home. Fortunately, there are ways to protect your items while they are in storage. 

Store Items in Plastic Boxes

Plastic storage is a great way to avoid dust contamination whenever possible. Dust can find its way through cracks in cardboard and if the unit is humid cardboard can fail over time. Plastic bins are a great and cost-effective solution, however. They offer durable protection that resists moisture and keeps dust out. Also, what is easier to clean: dust off of a plastic tub or each individual item inside? Durable plastic tubs can also be stacked on top of each other to conserve space. 

If you have linens or clothing items vacuum sealed bags are a great storage option. They also keep out dust and moisture and they make clothes easier to pack in boxes or plastic bins. They are also easier to stack on shelves, which is another item you should consider having in your unit. 

Keep Cleaning Supplies in Your Unit

Rather than tracking supplies back and forth from home be sure to keep plenty of cleaning supplies in your unit. By doing so you can do a quick cleanup each time you visit and this cuts down on what you have to do when you bring your items home. It also helps keep down the amount of dust and dirt you’re bringing home, too. 

Use Cloth Tarps or Covers

Using a large cloth tarp can keep the dust off of even plastic bins stacked together. A cloth tarp is best because it offers a soft surface that will not scratch your items. They can also be used to cover large items that can’t fit into storage bins. They offer protection when moving items in and out of the unit too. 

Whatever you choose to do in order to protect your items, the important thing to remember is that a little work and preparation in advance can save a lot of time and hassle later. By cleaning your unit regularly and covering items they will be ready to go when you bring them home.

self storage

Choosing Between a Storage Shed and Storage Unit

Every home can use more space. Deciding between building your own storage shed and renting a storage unit can be a tricky choice for many homeowners. Each type of storage solution has its benefits as well as its drawbacks. Here is what you should consider when deciding between a storage shed and a storage unit.

Cost

The good news is that the cost of a storage shed is all up front. It can be a bigger initial investment, as it could cost a couple thousand dollars, but it depends on the length of time you will need storage. The average cost to rent a storage unit is $91.14 a month. You could store your items in a storage unit for 9 months at an average cost of $820.26. This varies by the size of the unit and the facility, but if you only need short-term storage it may be more cost-effective to rent a storage unit.

Security

Storage units have varying levels of security in the form of cameras, gates, locks, and more. Many facilities also have managers that live on site and conduct routine security patrols. With a storage shed on your property all security is up to you. You can add locks and connect it to your home security system.

Access

A major advantage to having a storage shed on your property is that you have access to your belongings at all times. For items like garden tools, sports equipment, and more having everything on site is great. Many storage facilities offer 24-hour access, but they are still off-site and you have to travel to access your belongings. You still have to maintain the shed, however. You have to paint it, make repairs, and such. With a storage unit, the storage company handles all this.

Pests

Part of the storage company’s responsibility is to spray for bugs and keep other pests out of its units. They often have a standing contract from pest-control companies to take care of these things, while your own storage shed leaves this as your responsibility.

After careful consideration of each of the criteria above, there are still other things to consider. Is the convenience of a climate-controlled unit something you need? What life-phase are you in? Everyone has a different opinion on what is “convenient”, so be sure to take the time to think it through. Everyone has different needs when it comes to storage, so it is important to consider all factors.

bicycle storage

Bicycle Storage in Your Apartment

bicycle storage

Nowadays apartments come with a wide range of amenities and even more space than before, but apartment living still means space is at a premium. You have to learn to economize the space that you do have. This is true for all of your stuff, including your modes of transportation. While parking is generally considered to be part of your lease in many places, if you live near the core of a city it can be an additional fee. Many apartment dwellers are choosing to go car-less and get around via bicycle. When it comes to bicycle storage, however, that can be difficult in an apartment. Here are some tips on how you can store your bike to keep it safe and secure in your apartment.

Bicycle Storage in Your Coat Closet

Fortunately, you don’t need a lot of room to store a bike, which is why a coat closet can be a great option. It is easily accessible and in poor weather you’re going to need your coat anyway. Since this is likely the closest spot to the front door it makes for an easy-in/easy-out option. In the summer you can get more space for your bike by moving winter coats to your main closet, thus making it easier to get your bike in and out.

Balcony or Porch

This only works if you have the option of a porch or balcony, but it is a great place to store your bike out of the way. You don’t have to worry about moving coats or sweaters out of the way to get to it. Weather can still be a factor, but you can protect it from the elements by putting a tarp or other form of cover over it. Just make sure that you don’t block the door to your apartment, as this could be a fire hazard.

Garage

This is by far the easiest place to store it if you have the option. Some apartments do come with the option for a garage or other covered parking. If you are already paying for this, it is a great place to store your bike and keep it out of the elements. It is also a great place to perform any maintenance on it if needed. You won’t track in any dirt and it is completely out of the way from being inside your apartment.

Bike Rack

Many apartments offer on-site bike racks for their residents to use communally. There are also plenty of types of stands, racks, and hangers that your complex can offer. These are versatile structures that allow you to lock your bike up and leave it there with the peace of mind that it is safe.

Whatever storage option you choose, a bike in your apartment is both a great way to get around and a great way to get free exercise. You can find any number of innovative solutions that will not only solve your storage issues, but keep your bike safe and sound.

outdoor furniture

Clearing Garage Space with Self Storage

self storage summer

When you got your home or apartment you probably had grand visions for your garage. It was going to be more than a place to store your car. It was going to be a workshop, a place for your lawn care supplies, and maybe even an escape from the everyday world. Over time, however, it has become a catch-all for storage. Now you can barely fit your car in it because of so much stuff, and you haven’t even begun packing up your summer furniture.

Many people turn to self-storage units as a way to clean up the clutter in their garages. Self-storage units are a great place to store bikes, summer furniture grills, and other stuff during the winter so they are out of the way. But how do you pick what stays in the garage and what goes to the storage unit?

Use the Walls and Ceilings

For the items that are staying in the garage thing of the walls and even the ceiling as extra places to store things. Adding cabinets and racks provide additional space for smaller items and keeps them off of the floor. Bike hooks can be hung from the ceiling as a great way to stow bikes. The most important part is organization. As long as things are organized, you know where they are, and they are easier to get to when they are needed.

What Goes in Storage Units?

Storage units are great for large items that need to be stored, but you simply don’t have room for them in your garage. This can be stuff like patio furniture, outdoor games, grills, and more. Basically, they only take up space during the winter. This is why a short-term storage unit is a great option for the cold winter months.

Alternative Vehicle Storage

While you will need access to your primary vehicle, other vehicles like motorcycles, hobby vehicles, or even RVs still need a place. They often are not used much during the winter, anyway. Some self-storage centers have larger units that can even hold vehicles. With these larger items out of the way you can have more room at your home for winter storage.

A self-storage unit is always a great solution for short term and long term storage of items. As you’re cleaning out your garage this fall, consider renting a unit to store your summer items for the winter.

storage box

What to Move to Self Storage in Summer

storage shed

Warmer weather is just around the corner and that can mean it is time to reduce clutter around your home. If you have a self storage unit it can also mean it is time to switch up what gets stored there. Summer patio furniture and more can come out and winter items like that snowblower can go in. The flexibility that self-storage units offer can be very helpful with the change of seasons. Seasonal items are great for that, and as summer approaches here are some items you can consider moving to self-storage so they are not in the way.

Holiday Decorations

Are the Christmas tree and lights taking up space that is needed in the garage? Put them in a storage unit! You’re not going to need them until November anyway.

Winter Clothing

If you already have a storage unit you can put away bulky winter coats and blankets. Just make sure to protect them properly with plastic bins and vacuum sealed bags.

Snow Removal Items

This includes snowshovels, snowblowers, and more. For snowblowers, be sure to drain the tank of any fuel and disconnect the battery. That way it will be ready to go next winter with little maintenance.

Vehicle and Patio Covers

Summer is the time to be outdoors, so don’t let the bulky covers for your outdoor furniture get in the way. Put them in storage with the rest of the cold weather gear.

Snowmobiles

Many people like to store their motorcycles in the winter, and if you have a snowmobile it is a great trade-off. You can bring out the bike while you put the snowmobile away for the summer. Just be sure to drain the gas tank and disconnect the battery before storing.

Space Heaters and Snow Tires

These are both specialty items that just get in the way during warmer weather if you have them. Safely store them in a storage unit and they will be ready to go next winter.

As always, if you have any questions about what can and cannot be stored, feel free to contact your storage professional. They are there to help you with any questions or concerns you may have.

Cyber Security 101

Cyber Security 101

Cyber Security 101

Summary:

  • Change your default settings: usernames, passwords, and Wi-Fi network names;
  • Randomly generate long passwords for maximum security;
  • Use offline storage devices for optimal sensitive information security;
  • Ensure you connect to the correct network when in public;
  • Always keep your devices up-to-date;
  • Use a VPN for public Wi-Fi use;
  • If you must, only give sensitive information on websites with an HTTPS connection.

Today’s world is less than ever defined by the features, restrictions, and demands of the physical world. Where the processes of evolution placed geographical, time, and species barriers between us in the past, humanity has developed a virtual world in which nothing like the constraints of the world for the last 4 billion years obtains. We can see anywhere, talk with anyone, and create or purchase anything we want, at any time. The only barrier to entry is a modern technological device, which, if you don’t have a computer, can typically be found at any library in America. All this to say: our lives are becoming as much of an online presence as a physical reality.

What does this mean in terms of stability, security, and identity? Much e-ink is spilled over these questions. Today we just want to look at the basic components of online security. As you follow the tips below, you can rest assured in the knowledge that you have ground beneath your feet when you’re online, and have taken the appropriate measures to thrive in this new, virtual environment.

A Secure Connection at Home

Many believe home network security is taken care of by their internet service providers (ISPs). When consumers purchase routers from ISPs, the belief is that these routers come already pre-set with the best security settings. Unfortunately this simply is not the case. The main reason is because the factor default settings on routers can be discovered by hackers and stored in data tables for later retrieval. As a result, network home security can be improve dramatically simply by tweaking a few settings.

Passwords

How to create and store passwords is an often overlooked topic, though it couldn’t be more important for people who are connected to the internet daily. The best thing to do is randomly create a password for every login and use a password manager to store them all in the same place. As “How to Create and Securely Store Strong Passwords” explains, “Human behavior, even faulty behavior, follows certain patterns and rules. So the main thing is to create a password that will come to you unnaturally and will require memorization. Secure passwords have plenty of things in common: they are long, distinctive, involve a character mixture, and avoid hints and references to our personal lives.”

To begin your foray into the complex world of internet security, begin it on the right foot, by creating, using, and storing strong passwords in secure environments.

Storage

Since everything is online, you can of course use free programs like Google’s Drive to store sensitive information like passwords, financial information, and the like. Cloud services like the Drive are useful to many because they provide instant access to documents so long as the user has an internet connection. With Drive, you can access your documents from any device, at any time.

But with internet companies now selling data to advertisers and bad actors, it’s difficult to know how your information will be used. Luckily, there is a way to store information without exposing it to advertisers and hackers. External hard drives have quite a few benefits:With an external hard drive you can add a password protection. Another advantage is you won’t have your financial documents directly on the computer designated for everyday use. This will keep your sensitive files out of the hands of hackers and, maybe, your children. You won’t have to worry about accidentally sending the files or deleting them, as they’ll always be on the external hard drive, which you can disconnect from all devices when you don’t need access to the files stored there.”

Sometimes the best way to stay connected with your most sensitive information is to keep it disconnected from public spaces and services that are liable to be hacked or used by other people without your knowledge. A good way to disconnect your information is to keep it on an external hard drive.

Wi-Fi Router

There are many steps you can take to completely secure your Wi-Fi router, here we will just focus on a few. Most importantly, change your Wi-Fi’s name and password. This step may seem negligible, but there is more at stake than many people believe. The Rainbow Tables hackers use to gain access to systems actually have millions of stock Wi-Fi router username/password combinations stored. It is actually relatively easy to login to a router if the default username/password combination is used.

Similarly, you will want to disable Wi-Fi access to your router admin panel. Just as Wi-Fi username/password combinations are stored in Rainbow Tables, so are router admin username/passwords. There are actually websites that store factory username/password combinations for anyone to look-up. If somebody knows your router model, they can login to your admin panel through your wireless network and change all your settings, passwords, and restrict access to your network. As simple as it seems, changing your router’s username and password combination is one of the best ways to improve your home network security.

Tips for Public Internet Use

As public access to Wi-Fi networks grows, so do the security risks and threats. Many ordinary attempts at hacking your device comes through the “middle man attack” technique, when hackers use seemingly legitimate Wi-Fi network names like “HiltonGuests” to trick people into signing onto their networks, where they can then see all your device data. Although there are many ways in which to improve your public cybersecurity, below are just a few that will get you on the right foot.

Always Update

For as big of an inconvenience updating your device can be at times, keeping your device up-to-date can be one of the most important steps you can take in the fight against cyberattacks. As the security firm McAffee points out, the major Equifax data breach, which exposed the sensitive information of over 143 million Americans, could have been prevented with just a simple update: “A fix for this security hole was actually available two months before the breach, but the company failed to update its software. This was a tough lesson, but one that we can all learn from. Software updates are important because they often include critical patches to security holes.”

Use a VPN

After you double check your phone for recent updates, you’ll want to download a VPN. A virtual private network (VPN) is one of the safest ways to use the internet publicly, if you want to keep your data and your devices anonymous. Without a VPN, your information, including the public Wi-Fi router you are connected to, is open to anyone who might have the capability and know-how to listen in on your connection. Because the internet is a collection of servers and wires, and every action performed on the internet is performed through electrical signals and data packets, servers exchange this information to get you to the servers hosting the websites you want to connect to. This means that a lot of information about you can be in the open at multiple points of every connection.

A VPN encrypts your data with a secret code every time a connection is established to any server. This means that any information sent to any server is scrambled so that somebody trying to listen in cannot see what each data packet contains, unless they somehow unscramble it. VPNs can change their secret codes at random, making unscrambling nearly impossible. Secondly, VPNs actually work before the Wi-Fi network you are connected to can identify your device. This means that your location, your specific device IP, and which Wi-Fi network you are connected to all remains anonymous to any onlooker. VPNs are a really great way to stay anonymous in the virtual world, where privacy breaches occur regularly. And the Norton security firm offers one of the most cost effective VPNs on the market.

HTTPS Connection

A few years ago, the general belief was that HTTPS was only necessary for websites that stored and managed sensitive user information, like banks, ecommerce sites, and others. As Google has written, this is no longer the case, and perhaps never was. Because HTTPS encrypts data sent and received between a user’s browser and a website’s server, it masks user behavior. This is important, because although a visit to one unprotected website to play a game or read an article might seem benign, a hacker can expose your identity by piecing together behavior patterns. As Google notes, “For example, employees might inadvertently disclose sensitive health conditions to their employers just by reading unprotected medical articles.” This process is known as de-anonymization.

Conclusion

As we continue to move our businesses, personal lives, and social interactions online, privacy and security will become larger and larger concerns. Get ahead of the curve by staying up-to-date on best cyber security practices.

Tips for Storing Books

Tips for Storing Books

Tips for Storing BooksIf this is your first time storing books, you might think the process will be as easy as storing anything else: pack them up in boxes and throw them on a shelf. But that’s not exactly the case here. Books are delicate, sensitive to changes in their environments. Store your books with the confidence that they won’t diminish in value.

Preparation

Clean. You might not think dust is a big problem, but it can cause covers to fade, lose texture, and damage their surfaces after books set for too long. Inspect all your books for dust and dirt.

After you clean, you may want to wrap any books with dust jackets in Mylar book covers. This thin, plastic material is actually sturdy enough to prevent most damages to book covers. Plus, in the future, if you spill something in the vicinity of your book, it won’t necessarily ruin its cover.

Storage

The first thing you’ll want to consider is the kind of storage unit you want your books in. Climate-controlled storage is best, since you will be able to not only monitor the temperature of the unit but also the humidity levels. Aside from that, you probably shouldn’t store books in a unit without, at least, temperature-control, which makes the unit immune to major temperature changes (these units typically guarantee a range of temperatures for your storage: a range in Fahrenheit from about 50 degrees to 90 degrees).

Next, boxes, bags, or totes? If you use boxes, don’t use secondhand boxes, especially if they contained items that typically emit an odor (food, leather, etc.). These odors will settle in books after a period of exposure.

Don’t store in plastic bags. Not only can these produce gases after some time (which will settle in your books), but they also can trap humidity and water, forming a layer of condensation around your books. Bags can basically create the same environment as a humid basement.

Totes are usually okay for a few reasons. If the outside of the tote gets wet, the moisture won’t sink through the tote to the books (like it would a box). Secondly, there is usually extra space in the tote, which would allow for some air circulation for your books. And, thirdly, you won’t have to worry about the acid that some boxes contain yellowing the pages of your books.

Whatever you choose to do, now you have the information to store your books like a pro. Happy packing!

Apartment Storage Ideas

Storage Hacks for Apartment Living

Apartment Storage IdeasEver notice how densely populated areas have tall buildings? It’s because when you run out of horizontal space, you have to think vertically. If you lived in a dorm room during college, you’ll understand this principle. Most dorm room roommates position their beds over their desks and dressers. It’s efficient, and it opens the rest of the room for other things (like a table tennis table).

This means lack of closet and storage space doesn’t have to be the last word on your storage capabilities. Here are some hacks for making the most of your apartment space.

Use the Walls

Get some command strips. Hang everything. From your hats and hair ties to your shoes (the trick is to tie them together) and backpacks. You can probably think of more things to hang. You can also buy bags just for the purpose of placing things in them to hang on your wall.

Bed Lifts

If your bed doesn’t sit high off the ground, take a tip from dorm rooms: raise it. You’ll be able to fit a lot more things under there than you might expect: dressers, book shelves, desks. The possibilities are endless. You could even purchase a portable clothes rack and hang your clothes underneath.

Bookshelf Storage

This one is kind of obvious if you keep your bookshelf vertical. But try placing it on its side. Then you can purchase linen baskets and place anything inside of it (like charging cables, papers, extra blankets, and sheets, etc.) without making your room appear cluttered. Using linen baskets to create storage blocks in your bookshelf gives you the advantage of storage space without the messy appearance.

Don’t Hang Clothes

You read that right. Instead, go the military way and roll your clothes in their drawers. If rolled correctly, they won’t wrinkle. And you won’t have to dig through your drawers to find the perfect outfit.

If you feel like you don’t have enough space in your apartment, you may not be using the space efficiently. Use these hacks to maximize your apartment space.