4 Tips For Keeping Important Documents Safe
We all have important documents that we need to keep safe. Whether it is for personal or business use, there are always some papers, invoices and key documents we just can’t afford to lose.
Whilst you can never be 100% assured you’ll never lose those difficult to replace documents, there are some steps you can take to minimise the risk of losing them.
1. Keep them all in one place
It seems obvious, but whether you are storing your documents offline or online, you need to keep them in one place.
You may think you’re hedging your bets distributing documents in different locations, but it’s really not worth it. You’ll end up thinking you’ve lost them when they’re actually just in a different place. You’ll just end up wasting precious time.
The second step is to always return them immediately after use.
2. Replace any missing documents as soon as possible
Once in a while we all lose something. Try as we might the unavoidable truth is that we aren’t perfect and things get misplaced. When this does happen, replace your missing documents as soon as possible.
The good news is it’s usually less of a struggle than you think. Legal certificate agency Simply Certificate say that “key identification documents, such as marriage or birth certificates, can be secured in just a few days if necessary. You can also order multiple documents at once.”
This means that you won’t have to go without for very long. Its also a reassuring reminder that legal documents you receive aren’t the sole copy – though getting them will incur a cost.
3. Use a fireproof box or secure cloud service
You might be hesitant to keep all your documents in one place for fear if something happens, they’ll all be destroyed in one fell swoop. But there are ways to minimise this risk.
Keep your physical documents secure using a safe or fireproof case. For around £100 you can purchase a fireproof case made of a reinforced material that will survive fire damage, flooding and impact from falling objects. While this may seem extreme for a few pieces of paper, you are investing in never having the hassle of replacing these key documents if a disaster does befall them. And the cost of replacement can quickly stack up to far more than that.
As for online documents such as bank statements, personal notes and invoices – they will usually be safe on your password protected computer. However, if you also want to be able to access them from anywhere then you might want to move to a cloud based system such as Google docs.
But don’t go shredding paper copies once you’ve moved everything online. Cloud based charter accountants 3 Wise Bears caution that “when moving over to a digital system, be aware that you are also required under EU retention guidelines to maintain paper copies of invoices.”
To help you balance your systems, use a labelled harmonica folder to match the layout of your invoices to your online system, and keep them both up to date.
4. Carry out proper data protection and destruction
A final step to keeping your documents safe is to ensure sensitive information does not end up in the wrong hands. This starts with checking that you have the correct details for recipients.
But there are further steps you can take, particularly with digital documents. “We often recommend that our clients put add additional security on sensitive documents,” advise Netsend, an e-billing service provider. It is unlikely that you will have to handle the same volume of invoices that Netsend, a large-scale document management service, distribute every month, but the principle still applies.
Locking a document and making it accessible via a password is fairly straightforward with PDF software. Make the password something the recipient will know but that you won’t have to send to them in an email – like their account number or date of birth.
Finally, consider what happens to sensitive information when you get rid of tech. Data safety can be seriously compromised when a computer breaks or is replaced. In 2013, the NHS was fined for destruction failings after their old computers were sold on with patient information still embedded in them. Avoid a fine or and embarrassment by having old computers completely wiped or destroyed.
By taking these tips into account, you will we able to keep you important documents safe and ready when you most need them.