Digitally organizing your personal records/documents is a safe, secure and convenient way to manage, protect and store important records or personal documents. Most everything is going digital these days, but people still unnecessarily keep filing cabinets full of paper documents in their homes, left at the risk of fire or theft. Digitizing your records is not only safer and more convenient; it’s very easy to do.
Getting from Print to Digital
The first step in digitizing your personal records, whether it’s a receipt or a birth certificate, is to make a digital copy. You can still keep the paper copy of course (in a safe or other secure location), but once you’ve made the digital copy, you have no more need for the paper copy. If you need a paper copy down the road, you can easily print or email copies of the document.
So, there are really two ways to do this: either scan a copy of the document (you need access to a scanner), or take a picture of it using a smart phone. Depending on your preferences and familiarity with scanners and/or smartphones, either way is fine but you need a personal computer for both methods. If you choose to snap a picture of the document, make sure the quality is good and that you save the image in full resolution/actual size. You can do this by either emailing the photo to yourself (a more complicated route) or plugging in your smart phone to your computer and dumping the photo onto your desktop. If you choose to scan your document, the scanned images can be directly saved to your computer by connecting your scanner to your computer using the USB. Once you have a digital copy of your document(s), it’s time to organize and secure them.
Using the Security of the Cloud
When you save documents to the cloud, or cloud storage, it basically means you are using the internet as your “hard drive.” You are saving “data to an off-site storage system maintained by a third party” instead of storing information on your computer’s hard drive. When you do this, files are accessible to you from any device, at any time. An example of how the cloud operates would be Gmail. You can access your account and all of its contents from any device, and it’s all backed up using cloud storage. In this same way, you can safely and conveniently store your personal records/documents so that you don’t have to worry about them getting lost or stolen, and of course you can access them at any time. To save your digitized records to the cloud, you simply choose a trusted provider and set up an account. Most providers have free service options, but with limited space, so if you want to really save everything you may have to pay a small monthly fee. Popular providers include DropBox and GoogleDrive.
Embrace the Convenience of Apps
So you have your document digitized and saved to the cloud, but what about organizing all of those documents? Well, there’s an app for that. Depending on what types of records you are organizing (financial documents, receipts, personal data, etc.), you can find apps that will store and organize these documents for you. A popular app that can be used for any type of document is Evernote. This free app allows you to either upload or import any image (even from the web) using the ‘clip’ tool, then make notes on this image, and then ‘tag’ the image into a category that you set up. There are also premium plans for more options, but do require a monthly/yearly payment. Shoeboxed is another great app that features options to store and organize receipts, business cards, etc. for a variety of purposes from tax prep to basic storage. You can even use this app to link to your Gmail to archive documents or scan in receipts, that the app then verifies using OCR and human data verification.
No matter how you go about it, digitizing your records and personal documents is a safe and secure way to ensure you have those records always, safe from fire, theft, or damage. You don’t have to worry that every time you move or every time you clean that you may lose or misplace a document. And who wants paper clutter anyway when everything can be completely digitized.