Free Your Space: Digital storage

A year ago, the Pew Research Center estimated that 84 percent of American households own a computer. As a matter of fact, anyone reading this article is reading it on a computer as the Chadds Ford Live has been released in an online-only format for more than six years now.

Information is at our fingertips; all day, every day. And, whether we use a computer ourselves or not, we are showing up in someone’s system or directory in one way or another. Our pharmacies, doctors, schools, jobs, stores, friends and family are recording information about us every daily. At our own hands or at another’s, we are “on the grid”.

The question of whether or not to utilize technology to our advantage is becoming more of a matter of which of the many choices to embrace. From daily receipts to business contracts to family photos; document storage in this day and age is a challenging and somewhat daunting undertaking. Challenges arise from having to decide between the multitude of types, costs, capabilities and security that the wide variety of options provide.

Hard copy storage systems remain classic and customary options yet, the myriad of technological alternatives are becoming too prevalent to ignore. Fears about either can stop you in your path toward finally getting organized. What if I decide to stick with a paper filing system and I have a fire or flood? What if the cloud storage I’ve chosen gets hacked? If the fears make you stop for too long, the cavalcade of electronic and physical information that continues to pour in will bury you where you stand.

The key, therefore, is to take a deep breath, do a little bit of research, make your choice, take a risk...and have a backup plan.

Paper management systems such as file cabinets and file storage boxes may be working well for you. By “working well” I mean that you file documents regularly, can find the documents you need in a matter of minutes and you review your files at least annually to purge or store older documents, ensuring that what remains is up to date.

The benefits of digital storage however, far outweigh their hard-copy predecessor and are almost innumerable: having access to your documents from almost anywhere at any time; the ability to share and collaborate remotely on documents for work or with family; being able to sort and resort files by date, title or simply a word or name; all at the touch of a button!

Some items that can be stored electronically, freeing up some actual physical space in your home and office are: documents, lists and photos.

While the web offers many ways of sharing and storing documents “in the cloud” you should make sure that whatever you choose to house your more important documents and information has strong encryption protocols in place. One clue is to look at the web address. If it begins with https it is known as a “secure” site.

If you’re not sure where to start, some of the options I trust with my own precious documents and photos include:

Docusign: a web-based tool utilized by many Realtors to send, sign and store contracts for their clients. A great tool for managing business contracts.

Forever: a photo organizing and storage solution that is private and allows you to pass photos down from generation to generation.

HomeZada: a home inventory program that allows you to document all the items in and around your home with both photos and information and can be shared with your insurance company.

LastPass: a password storage website that allows you to store and access all of your password by remembering only one.

SafelyFiled: provides high-level security for vital documents and health records.

A good Plan B when you are using mainly electronic storage systems is to keep a backup. An external hard drive that you can back up data to monthly or quarterly and can be kept in a fireproof safe or safety deposit box.

Remember that there are always risks to whatever option you choose, but the risks taken by being unprepared are far greater.

* Annette Reyman is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO®) and Immediate Past President of its Greater Philadelphia Chapter. To contact her for organizing work, professional unpacking, productivity support, gift certificates or speaking engagements call 610-213-9559 or email her at Visit her websites at and Follow All Right Organizing on Facebook and Pinterest.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the ownership or management of Chadds Ford Live. We welcome opposing viewpoints. Readers may comment in the comments section or they may submit a Letter to the Editor to:


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