Digital media has a feature that is almost a paradox.
Digital media can be the most fragile way of storing information ever invented. Not just because magnetic media can be erased by a magnetic field, and that bad actors can alter it, but because a perfectly legitimate owner of the data can erase it in less time than it takes to say “oops”.
What is paradoxical, is that because it is so easy to perfectly replicate any piece of content, it can also be stored in several places simultaneously, making it immune to a localized event such as burglary or fire.
Digital is also paradoxical, in that we can now store more pages of documents than ever, in less space.
If you know me closely, you also know that we have moved around quite a bit in the last few years, and on each of those instances, I have digitized and migrated further more of our stuff to the cloud. This first started with a large amount of photo negatives, and then, after a year or so, I decided to rip (not digitize, since they were already digital), a collection of more than 500 CDs. Because of copyright issues, I destroyed the actual physical CDs and kept pictures of the sleeves. That was the same time when I moved all this data, to a redundant NAS. After some time using a cold storage backup, I found a suitable service in the cloud that allows to host a full backup for a year, for less than what a hard drive would cost (check iDrive).
Before our last move, I took this one step further with a large number of documents digitized and made them available either on a local hard drive on my laptop, or on the server and therefore on the cloud. In addition to this, I also migrated, as much as possible to paperless delivery of statements, notifications, etc. and migrating as much as possible to SaaS services for critical tasks, such as accounting, payroll processing, etc. This approach worked remarkably well during our last move, which included the successful restore of all my files from the cloud after the failure of TWO drives on a Raid-5 array. Besides for ourselves and our dog, we did not need a physical address for pretty much anything, except for package delivery, and for getting an updated Driver’s License and Voter’s Registration Card, which are -for some reason- still attached to a physical address.
Here are yet another two things that I will experiment with in the future:
- Amazon Lockers. It solves the need for a physical address for receiving delivered goods. Just lookup one close to where you hang out, and have stuff delivered there.
- Virtual Mailbox. For the few things that may still be using regular post, there are services like Anytime Mailbox that would receive your mail, scan it, and shred it. They can also forward any correspondence or package to an address you specify, and even deposit checks if necessary.
What other tips do you have to free up from physical attachments?