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Why cloud storage matters when setting up a paperless office

desktop with laptop, mug, headphones, smartphone, mouse, camera and plant
Is your company currently considering going paperless? Or maybe you've already made that choice and started the daunting task. You might have already started shredding all your paper documents, but what about all your digital files on your computer?

More and more people are going paperless, not just for environmental reasons but also because online storage is more secure, efficient, and cost-effective. I decided I wanted to go paperless and started making an effort to use my phone or computer for notes instead of writing on paper. After years of using the same computer and mobile phone, I have accumulated even more document files.
A new dilemma arises, and that is digital clutter. The solution to digital clutter, however, is obvious, and that is to save your data in as many places as you can afford.

Create a strategy to save your files to a digital cloud storage service. Cloud storage is not only for businesses but also for individual users. It can be used to store personal files and documents. You can easily sync your important files from one device to another with just a click of a button. This way, you won’t have to worry about losing any important files in case your computer crashes or gets stolen. In this day and age, we also have to consider any damage to our devices caused by natural disasters like floods, fires, tornadoes, and hurricanes. Keeping our data safe and accessible from anywhere in the world has become a standard, no matter which one you choose.

Acknowledge that you have digital clutter

I am filling up the memory storage on all my devices at a rapid pace. I am proud of myself for reducing paper clutter, but I am noticing how quickly I am using up data on each of my devices' memory storage. And as you can imagine, I started to feel nervous that I could lose my data at any moment or that, all of a sudden, my phone would quit. If this has ever happened to you, then you know that feeling of dread.

I acknowledge how my media files, such as the audio, photo, and video files I use for my creative social media posts, are taking up the majority of my memory. For me, it’s my new working habit of going paperless, which is creating digital clutter.

Even with automatic and instant backups, like those of my laptop and my other devices, I’m using up all the storage space available to me. One would think that you have an unlimited amount of storage space and that you won’t have to worry about it, but that is far from the truth. Limits do exist on many platforms, and you will need to pay more as you graduate to larger cloud memory. The question now is: what to do about digital clutter?

How to get rid of digital clutter

Creating a paperless life is the way to go for many reasons, but it has to be done responsibly. Learning what documents and media files need saving and how to save them is a challenge that I am willing to take on.

I first need to distinguish which of those files are the working files for a project that I will need in the future from those that are made to be kept forever. Whether it’s a document or a media file, like a photo, audio, or video file, I discovered which ones made sense to keep for the short term and which files I would need to back up for safekeeping.

For example, I want to save my personal documents with vital personal information and personal photos forever, but I won’t need to keep all the drafts I make for social media posts that are designed for short-term trends. If I need an image for a social media post in the future, I can research the online resources and redesign a new one. Understanding how to use digital storage for working projects vs. cloud storage as a backup system is a conscious effort and an important step in maintaining your files.

Knowing what to keep and what to toss

I cleared up some of the clogged-up memory space on my computer and phone by deleting unnecessary files, photos, and videos. Yes, this took me some time, but I really got to see how many unnecessary documents and photos I no longer needed, and that occupied vital digital real estate. It helped a little bit to delete them, and I was able to free up some digital space, but I still felt I could do better. I realized the best approach was to save my data as many times as I could afford.

In addition, I bought “La Cie” and backed up my computer data on this external device. The limitations of these two options come down to their cost and accessibility. These storage solutions will fill up eventually, and the need to purchase and keep track of additional storage resources is inevitable. For these reasons, my decision to back up important files onto a cloud storage service is easy because it gives me peace of mind.

I chose to put files into folders, naming them "work-in-progress," and leave them on the local drive but also keep an external drive to archive permanent folders. I add permanent or long-term files to the cloud.

You can choose to extend Google's storage or Apple’s Time Machine storage too. You may be asked to pay more for the additional storage than the initial allowance.

iCloud warning message
When I start working, I follow a strategy of labeling my current project files, then saving them to a labeled folder. Once I complete a project, I review my folder and delete any files that are not essential, then archive those folders for long-term storage in Backblaze.

Why is digital cloud storage essential?

Digital cloud storage has become a popular way to store your files and back up your computer. You can use any digital cloud storage as an additional backup or as your primary method of data protection. Cloud storage services have become the perfect tool for saving files, photos, videos, and documents in a secure environment. It uses advanced technology to ensure that your data is secured.

Cloud storage services are an ideal resource for those who have limited space on their devices, like me. You can easily store your files in the cloud and just access them whenever you need them. In addition, it’s also a great way to free up space on your device by transferring files there instead of leaving them on your hard drive. Cloud storage is a safe and secure way to back up your files. You can choose which files you want to store in the cloud, so if something happens to your computer or device, you still have all your important files. Cloud storage also makes it easy for you to access those files from anywhere with an internet connection.

Choose a cloud service that suits your business

There are many different types of cloud storage services for different purposes. What are the best cloud storage tools for personal use or for small, at-home businesses? Here are a few listed for saving data, saving designs, or saving communications systems.

Adobe Creative Cloud
Google Photos and Drive

So, without getting into what each of these services provides, I recommend you reach out to the experts in the tech field who can explain which digital cloud service is best for your own business.

How to save your work

Now that you know why and where to save your work, the next step is to learn how to remove unwanted data from your computer and how to save your data so that you can find what you need when you need it. There’s nothing more frustrating than knowing you have a specific photo you want to use but can’t find it. How can one distinguish one photo label from the others when they look something like this: “124211108_5679234.jpg?”

screenshot of folders on computer
Creating a labeling system is the only way to quickly find your files. Your labeling system should reflect how you work. For example, label your new folder with a name and date. In a few words, the document label should describe its contents.

Add keywords and tags to the document that correspond with the correct category topic, like client, financial, insurance, personal, photos, recipes, videos, etc. I do this as soon as you open the document so that it’s easy to save and locate later.
You might choose to extend the Google storage or Apple storage if you have a Mac and pay the extra storage fees, but I decided to follow a strategy of labeling current projects and grouping them into folders depending on how I use them. Some documents are works in progress, and I use some files for the short term but will delete them later when I’m done. I save documents on Evernote for those that I want to use as future references. I save photos on Google Photos, and I save active spreadsheets on Google Drive.

Once I complete my daily projects, I review my desktop folder and delete any files that are not essential, saving the ones I want to keep in their appropriate document folder in my “documents” area. That way, they will back up automatically. I back up my long-term and most important files to Backblaze.

checklist for going paperless
Using a cloud storage service like Backblaze is like having the kind of insurance you need when you drive a car. You hope that you’ll never need it, but you’re sure happy that you set it up when your computer or an external device crashes. Life happens, but it's sure a great feeling to be picking up where you left off when you get through some difficult times unscathed.


Blog post by Elizabeth Lulu Miranda: Lulu has been working as a home and office organizer in Chicago for over 15 years. She brings new perspectives on how to have an organized life. Writing for the Mercury Organizing blog “Create the Flow" and her personal blog “What would Lulu Do?"

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