Is your digital go bag packed? Here’s what to include now, to save you from scrambling later.
Digitize your documents to declutter your life
Learn how to organize, digitize, and upload important paper documents to your Prisidio digital vault.
A cloud-based vault can help you centralize, organize, access, and share the important documents in your life. But if you’re like many folks, you’ve likely scattered digital and physical files across different storage locations. That makes it a hassle to find your documents when necessary, for everyday life as well as in an emergency.
You can expect to reference certain documents every time you:
- Apply for a job or a loan
- Enroll in a program or institution
- Provide personal data for a membership, purchase or subscription
- Provide proof of identity, ownership, or residency
There are unexpected scenarios, too. Maybe you’re abroad and need your health insurance card, or your college-age child needs your tax returns.
The good news: when you digitize all your documents, you can centralize them in your secure vault. A document digitization plan makes it easy to get them there. Here, we’ll show you which documents to digitize and how to upload them to your cloud-based vault.
Identify your paper documents
When transferring physical documents to your cloud-based vault, getting organized is key. But organization doesn’t have to be an all-day affair. You can digitize your documents whenever works best for you. Here we suggest which ones to look for.
To start, consider adding the documents Prisidio prompts you to include from within the app. As you expand, we also suggest grabbing these:
Legal and Identification
- Driver’s license (or State ID)
- Birth or adoption certificate
- Marriage license
- Social security card
- Vehicle title(s)
- Last will and living will
- Powers of attorney
Financial and Property
- Bank and credit card statements
- Brokerage statements
- Large purchase receipts and titles
- Loan documents
- Homeowners and auto insurance policies
- Tax returns
- Property deeds or leases
- Mortgage documents
- Medical records
- Immunization records
- HIPAA release form
- Health, life, disability, and / or long-term care insurance policies
- COVID-19 vaccination card
- Medical orders (e.g., DNR or POLST forms)
A cloud-based vault isn’t just for your own documents – it can help you manage your loved ones’ documents, too. So when you’re going through the above checklist, remember to include files like your father’s living will and your child’s birth or adoption certificate.
Once you’ve identified your important paper documents, you can digitize them as you locate them, item by item. Want to knock things out in one go? Consider laying out and sorting your documents. Start with the big categories – legal, identification, financial, and medical – and create new ones as needed.
The choice is yours: the best organization method is the one that suits your style and needs.
Choose the right technology: flatbed scanner vs. app
To digitize your documents, two common technology options are a flatbed scanner or a scanning app on your smartphone.
Flatbed scanners (typically included in an all-in-one printer) use a combination of light, mirrors, and sensors to generate high-res document scans. Scanning apps, on the other hand, rely on your smartphone’s camera.
A flatbed scanner is best where maximum legibility is a must – typical for most legal documents. But because these devices involve manual alignment and operation, they can be slow.
The biggest advantage of a scanning app is convenience: you can instantly scan a document anywhere you can take your phone. But the wrong conditions – an uneven surface, poor lighting, or low camera quality – can create warped or illegible scans.
To pick the right scanning tech, evaluate your specific needs. If you need to scan a lot of documents (or you’re simply short on time), a scanning app can help you digitize them efficiently. For high-res scans, consider using a flatbed scanner, either at home or at a self-service scanning station near you (e.g., FedEx, UPS, OfficeMax, or Staples).
Whether you choose a flatbed scanner or a scanning app, make sure you’ve placed your documents in a well-lit area near your device so you can digitize them with ease.
Choose the right format: JPG vs. PDF
When scanning your documents, your device will likely ask you to select your preferred file type. Your selection depends on the document at hand.
JPG scans can decrease text quality, but they often suffice for documents with lots of white space, like passports or birth certificates. PDF scans are better for text-heavy documents – think insurance policies or powers of attorney.
These file types also differ when it comes to:
- Size: JPGs trade quality for a smaller file size.
- Multi-page capabilities: Only PDFs enable multiple pages per file.
- Universal access: While you can view JPGs on nearly every operating system, PDFs may require a separate app download.
- Printing quality: PDFs are better if you anticipate printing documents in the future.
Depending on the file type, you can make your documents text-searchable using optical character recognition (OCR) software. Certain flatbed scanners come with a “Scan to OCR'' setting to generate searchable PDFs. You can also make downloaded PDFs text-searchable using a desktop or mobile app. And one cool trick for Mac and iPhone users: OCR works automatically on most JPG files (provided you’re using the most updated operating system).
Scan and upload documents to your cloud-based vault
Once you digitize your documents, you get to choose which way to upload them to your cloud-based vault. With Prisidio, you can drag and drop them using the browser version (great for uploading large batches!), or conveniently upload smartphone scans via Prisidio’s mobile app.
Prisidio’s vault enables you to conveniently sort any item into one of four categories: Documents, People, Places, or Things. Then, consider adding important document context to help you and your loved ones understand each file’s purpose at a glance. For example:
- To indicate where any document’s hard copy is stored, simply add a Place in Prisidio (such as “closet safe” or “garage file cabinet”) and just tap or click the place to connect it to each document.
- Link your documents to other Places (such as your parent’s home) or Things (like a photo of the car connected to the insurance or title) in your vault.
- Attach video or audio notes to communicate details when you’d rather talk than type.
With Prisidio, you can add this context whenever it is convenient for you. While you add items to your vault, within two clicks you can also designate trusted people to share specific documents with for them to easily reference in case of emergency.
Stay prepared with all-digital document delivery
No matter how you digitize your documents, Prisidio makes it easy for you to get them into your cloud-based vault. Want to make life even simpler? If certain accounts offer online statements (e.g., your bank or utility provider), consider opting to receive digital copies where possible.
Going digital-first helps you get documents in your vault faster. Once you’ve uploaded them, you can connect documents to account information via a Places or Things item.
Worldwide, digital is going mainstream: over 75 percent of people are projected to choose e-signed and digitally delivered documents post-pandemic. As more organizations offer digital document delivery, take the opportunity to go digital whenever you can – and do less scanning and uploading down the road.
Digitization makes document access easy
When you need an important document, the last thing you want is to spend time finding it. Digitize files for yourself and your loved ones so they’re easier to access and share. With a cloud-based vault like Prisidio, you can digitally manage your essential documents from any internet-connected device.