Saturday 3 December 2011

The Urge to not Purge

When do you delete an "important" electronic communication?

As a prudent person, your immediate response will be why do you want to delete something that is important? But a question does not answer a previous question. It just initiates a questionnaire with no one willing to answer.

Back in the days when making paper from trees was an accepted thing, you would get all your communication the postal route and you could either keep it or file it and it would stay till willingly shredded or destroyed by arson, termites, or Acts of God. With rising costs and more campaigners to save trees, almost all your required communication now takes the electronic route.

Electronic communication is indeed faster and economical. But it also creates a lot of discomfort by the fact that unless opened on a screen you can't really see it. Pointing to a Hard Drive and claiming it holds a few thousand document is not really helpful if the documents do not open on a screen. You can hold them but you can't see them. Theft is also easy. They will fit on something no larger than your thumb nail.

Anyway, with e-communication being the fastest and cheapest way at reaching out to people, you are facing a barrage of, at times, useless chatter coming to you. Ordinarily a confirmation of change of address request is you receiving your mail at the new address. Now you will receive confirmation of this change by email, text and even a phone call. Do you keep these messages as important or delete them. With no paper backups, you are at a loss to know what to do and prefer to err on the side of caution by storing them. The super cautious may take a print and defeat the very purpose of going paperless.

So what all is coming to you electronically? Bank statements, brokerage statements, bills, sales campaigns, transaction records and what not. How do you store these things.

  1. Retain the emails in your mail box.
  2. Download the attachments that came with the email and store them in a folder in your hard drive.
  3. Do a and b above.
  4. Back up emails and your hard drive with a desk top external storage device.
  5. Back up on line.
  6. Do a, b, d, and e above.
  7. Do f above and take a print of all communication, file them and create cross references.

Electronic communication has created more record keeping issues than paper communication. Also the fact that it has actually increased cost to the recipients than the senders. There is more time spent in checking mails, storing attachments and sifting through junk mail figuring what is important and what is not. Also there is the danger of emails bouncing due to full mailboxes giving rise to the risk of losing out on the truly important communication.

But as time progresses, there is no going back. These are some of the perils of modern day mail and unless one chooses to live in a cave, there is no escaping it.
Happy storing and happy purging friends.

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