As more businesses embrace electronic records, and technology and fast, ubiquitous internet connect every corner of our lives, the inevitability of going "paperless" starts to draw closer.
And that's without mentioning the pressing need to conserve precious resources such as trees, find ways to lower CO2 emissions and manage our ever-growing digital footprint.
With this in mind, CHOICE has created a guide to going paperless, to explain the process and help you by providing a practical, informative plan, including:
Is paper more secure than electronic?
If you’re going to embrace the paperless life, you may feel uneasy as you start to dispose of pieces of paper and begin filing your e-documents. If you’re cautious, you can save receipts and important letters in paper form, while recycling other documents. But shopping receipts, for example, can easily fade or be lost and having an electronic copy can help preserve receipts for a warranty claim.
Because computers can crash and files can be lost forever, it’s imperative that you back up all of your paperless documents on an external hard drive and even make additional copies on DVD that can be stored safely offsite.
When it comes to storing documents in the cloud, it’s a slightly different matter because they’ll be stored on servers located overseas. For this reason, it’s probably safer to use one of the more popular cloud storage services, rather than a new or unknown provider because they should be less likely to have security breaches or to go out of business.
Cloud vs computer storage
When you start going paperless you’re going to be confronted by one significant question – where do you want to store your files? It’s either going to be on your computer or attached storage drive, or via the internet with one of the numerous cloud storage services.
- If you have security concerns or you don’t need access to the files over the internet, then you can simply create folders on your computer and save them locally.
- If you prefer to have access to documents via a computer or tablet, then cloud storage might be your preference. Most also have apps that allow you to send notes, documents and web clippings from your smartphone and tablet:
Evernote is an online web clipping and file storage service that has free and premium accounts. It’s gained a loyal user base because it’s simple to use and has many useful features. Some people store all their paperless files in Evernote using a paid account that also offers optical character recognition (OCR) for searching, password-protected notes and ample storage space for a large cache of files.
Dropbox is an online file storage service that has free accounts with 2GB of storage space and paid accounts. You upload and download files through a browser and access them online or locally on your computer if you download the Dropbox application to your computer.<
SugarSync will store and sync files, share folders with other users and allow to access files and documents from a browser, smartphone or tablet.
iCloud is the Apple backup and storage service for documents as well as contacts, emails, music, apps and photos.
Google Drive will store Google Docs files and via a browser and there are also smartphone and tablets apps.
Microsoft SkyDrive works on PCs and Macs, and there are also apps for Windows Phone, Android and iOS mobile devices.