Digital hoarding

Oh dear!

In a previous blog I said how I had started to build a home archive. I have been working through all of the papers that we keep and scanning the important ones, or those that don’t have email copies, and storing them on a pair of hard drives. One I keep in the house and the other is a resilient copy kept somewhere else.

This begs the question why I am keeping any paper if I am scanning the important stuff? The answer is that I have some stuff that isn’t that important but nice to have. I am not yet a complete borg, devoid of any sentiment, yet through the process I have been gradually whittling down on our paperwork.

Clearly, at the same time, I have been adding to our electronic detritus. Filling space with electronic documents is nowhere as noticeable as their more tangible cousins yet I have noticed that I have been hoarding stuff in digital format which is either no longer relevant, important or both. Instead of being a paper hoarder I am in danger of becoming an e-hoarder.

For fear of losing those wedding photos, or that document that could be useful at work, I have ended up with multiple copies of the same file. Everyday it gets worse as more and more bytes are given over to superfluous rubbish. The truth is that I rarely look at this stuff and, if I ever do, it is so hard to find anything that I give up quickly.

I am reminded of when I used to work in larger organisations where everyone hoarded to an extent. Most people used their email as a filing system and I shudder to think how many copies of the same file are held in personal storage, desktops and memory sticks. But who cares as memory is so cheap?

We should all care. Much, if not most of what we keep is unimportant yet some is extremely sensitive and valuable. Digital hoarding leads to a lack of control over our data assets. This may be OK if they are just our own but this cannot be acceptable if they belong to the organization where we work.

The more we hoard, the more copies of the same document we keep. The more copies of the same document, then the more chances are that access is given to those who should not see it, either unintentionally or through criminal actions. Keeping control of your digital assets is just as important as managing your physical ones. As time goes on it may become more important.

Digital hoarding leads to increased risk.

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