This article by Michael Puldy discusses the importance of ensuring that your personal records are protected. Puldy asks What’s your plan when your laptop gets stolen or your hard drive fails? What happens when you lose your mobile phone? What happens when your contacts, photos, music, spreadsheets, and apps go missing, along with all their associated data?
Speaking from experience, I know how difficult life can be if important documents are not secured. I remember the time my condo was flooded, as a result of my neighbour’s leaked water tank. I had to pack all my belongings very quickly to allow the contractors to replace the floors, as well as fix damaged walls and ceilings. In the rush, I misplaced my passport (I later found it), as well as my original citizenship card (which I have still not found). As luck would have it, I needed to renew my passport that year and, of course, I needed both these documents. Fortunately, I found my passport, but I needed to get a new citizenship certificate, which was a particularly long and convoluted process. On another occasion, medical documentation from a trip to the Emergency ward during a visit to the US got lost in transit (completely my fault), which caused a few problems, although the ER did have the electronic records, so we managed to fix the problem.
In the first case above, the Passport and Citizenship certificate must be in the original print form to be legally acceptable, so scanning them is no good. I now keep these records, as well as all tax papers, in a safety deposit box in my bank. I scan receipts, as increasingly, business recognize them, especially since many companies now offer to send you your receipts electronically.
Most of my records are digital. I keep all these records in the cloud; a problem I must address is that I have a number of cloud accounts: Amazon Cloud, Dropbox, Google Drive (two accounts: One personal, and one professional), OneDrive (two accounts: One personal, and one professional), and ThinkFree. I have been using the cloud for about 10 years now. I use these accounts for different purposes, but I know that I have too many accounts. I am very careful to not mix personal and professional documents. I also keep records backed up on an external hard drive. My smartphone and table records and images are sent to OneDrive or Google Drive. I have no records on either of my two laptops (personal and work), so if either is lost or crashes, I would not lose any data of value. I am exploring getting my own cloud drive, as they are getting more reasonable in price. OneDrive, Dropbox, and GoogleDrive all function well as collaborative tools; I have a few shared folders in each of these drives with work and research colleagues. I have not lost any data in any of these cloud drives; the problem is keeping track of which documents I have and where they are stored. A personal file inventory is in the works.