Everyone has their own organizational system: I organize my files differently from my wife, my son, and my daughter. But if a trusted person needs access to my birth certificate or power of attorney, will they know where to look?
When you and your loved ones store your files in different places, they become easy to lose track of – and difficult to recover. But with a centralized digital storage solution, you can make files easy to access and share with others.
A cloud-based vault is the solution I recommend. And getting your documents there can be as simple as clicking an Upload File button or taking and uploading a few photos.
Wondering where to start? Follow these three steps to organize your documents in one place.
Step 1: Gather your essential files
If you’re like many folks, there’s a good chance you’ve stored important personal, legal, and financial documents in a combination of physical and digital places. We recently asked people about their document storage preferences. Among the respondents surveyed:
- 46% keep digital files of documents on their computer.
- 41% store physical files in a home safe or fireproof box.
- 37% leave their digital files in their email account.
No matter where you keep your documents, you’ll feel the most organized when you have copies or records in a single storage location. To improve your organization, start by listing the documents that matter most to you and your loved ones.
Which items should you consider? Think about life management essentials like:
- Driver’s license
- Birth certificates
- Wills and estate documents
- Insurance policies
- Titles and deeds
- Immunization records
- Financial statements
- Tax returns
Next, list your files’ digital or physical locations. These may vary depending on each file’s type and frequency of use. If you rarely need your children’s birth certificates, for instance, you might keep them in a firesafe lockbox. But for more regularly used documents – like your insurance card or immunization record – your laptop or smartphone storage might make more sense. The important part is that you’ve recorded what and where each file is.
Once you know where your files are stored, discard the ones that aren’t essential. It’s prudent to keep all your tax records, for instance, but you can probably shred or delete an outdated insurance policy.
After you’ve pared down your files to the ones you need most, gather what you can in one place. Consider organizing them by owner, purpose, and name. This way, your files will be readily accessible so it’s easy to digitize and centralize their storage.
Step 2: Digitize your physical files
While physical storage options work for many people, they aren’t always the simplest solution – or the most secure.
To start, storage locations like lockboxes or filing cabinets can be difficult for loved ones to access. They might struggle to determine which key goes where. Once they do, they may still have to sift through rows of manila folders to locate the files they need. That’s a problem in an emergency, when every second matters.
Many physical storage solutions are also susceptible to fire or water damage. What’s more, common keyed or combination lock systems are less complex than their digital counterparts, making them easier to tamper with. Both vulnerabilities put your important files at risk.
To protect the physical files that matter to you, make digital copies and prepare to store them in one place. In my household, I make a habit of scanning documents like bank statements and medical bills. Once I’ve converted them into JPG or PDF files, I transfer them to the cloud for easy access.
When you digitize your physical documents, you and your loved ones will appreciate the benefits of a simpler organizational system. If people need specific files, they won’t need to hunt them down – you can share digital access in a matter of seconds.
Step 3: Find the right cloud-based digital vault
Now that you’ve made digital copies of your physical files, where’s the best place to store them? Not all digital options are alike. Laptops and smartphones are easily lost, broken, and stolen. Hard drives can fail at random. For the most secure digital file organization, you’ll want to store your files in a cloud-based digital vault like Prisidio.
Cloud-based storage avoids most of the limitations that come with physical alternatives. Your files aren’t tethered to a single lockbox or computer – you can access them from any WiFi-enabled device.
How do you know if a digital vault is right for you? The best option should provide:
- Multi-factor access authentication
- Web and mobile access
- Audio, video, and image file storage options
- Selective file sharing
- Enough storage space for each file type
Prisidio delivers each of these features, along with the tools you need to customize your digital file organization. With your documents secured in the cloud, you can quickly share files with the people that matter to you. Your files will be there when you need them, so you can live with less stress every day.