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Data Storage

Ask Slashdot: How Do You File Paper Documents At Home? 371

Posted by timothy
from the shred-then-reassemble-of-course dept.
swamp boy writes "How do you file paper documents at home? I'm mostly asking about things like monthly paper-based statements that get mailed to you (credit cards, gas cards, medical bills, health insurance explanation of benefits, electricity bill, natural gas bill, water bill, etc.). Do you push to have as many sent electronically as possible? Do you scan the paper documents to store electronically and then shred the paper document? How do you manage and organize the ones stored electronically? I've been doing this the old-fashioned way with manila file folders, but as time goes by I keep thinking that I should opt for digital storage. What works for you?"
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Ask Slashdot: How Do You File Paper Documents At Home?

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  • by Haedrian (1676506) on Sunday May 01, 2011 @11:44AM (#35991258)

    If you have a court case which requires the documents, I'm pretty sure that printing out your electronic copy won't really work, because you could have easily modified it while it was stored there.

    To answer original question - I have a big file. Sometimes I prefer having something physical that can be brought out as proof.

  • by dlsmith (993896) on Sunday May 01, 2011 @11:53AM (#35991324)

    Do you push to have as many sent electronically as possible?

    I wish we lived in a world in which there was a secure electronic equivalent to document delivery. The technology exists, but nobody uses it.

    As it is, the standard is for every company I deal with to require a separate login which gives me a web interface to tracking down the documents I need. Maybe they'll send a generic email when something new arrives. The problem is that this raises the convenience barrier so high that I rarely see the documents I'm being sent when they arrive — it happens when I'm already on the site and looking around. Which means I have to remember to go to the site.

    When I get something in the mail, in contrast, I can look at it immediately, and then if necessary I can put it in a to-do box, which gives me a clear indication, in one place, of all the stuff I need to deal with.

  • by sribe (304414) on Sunday May 01, 2011 @12:06PM (#35991436)

    If you have a court case which requires the documents, I'm pretty sure that printing out your electronic copy won't really work, because you could have easily modified it while it was stored there.

    Yes, actually, the best copy you have will work. If the opposing party wants to claim that you have modified documents, they will have to come up with actual evidence to that fact. (You are aware, are you not, that paper documents can be forged???)

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Sunday May 01, 2011 @01:06PM (#35991858) Homepage

    > WIth thermal printed receipts, if you don't have a scanned or photocopied copy of the receipt, in 2 years, it's likely that all you'll have a blank piece of paper

    Thermal receipts can actually fade much faster than that. They might not even last long enough to be used for tax purposes.

    I started scanning all of my important receipts over this very issue.

  • by farnsworth (558449) on Sunday May 01, 2011 @02:12PM (#35992228)
    I am a marginally affluent adult with children, and I struggle to understand why I should store paper documents at all.

    I keep a stack of maintenance records for my car, because I will probably sell it some day, and the future owner may want that. But I will never actually refer to any of these, even if there is a question about the state of my car. I will just have it re-evaluated at that time.

    I don't get any financial statements in the mail, because the institutions store them as pdfs for me. I trust them to keep accurate records. Every day I throw out practically everything that arrives in my mailbox. Occasionally I will get a personal correspondence or an actually-informative message from a financial institution.

    I don't keep the records of my interactions with the government (parking tickets, licences, etc). It just doesn't seem worth the effort compared to the potential risk of some misunderstanding occurring.

    I don't keep medical bills or documents, because I trust my doctors to keep an accurate medical record. And even if they fail to do so, I don't see a strong reason to care about that.

    I don't keep correspondences with my children's school, because I can't imagine a reason that I would ever need to refer to that. I read them, respond as appropriate, then they go straight into the trash.

    I keep documents regarding real estate ownership, but in the ~10 years of doing so, I have never referred to any of these.

    So I have a couple of unsorted write-only streams of files for certain things, but everything else is either digital or thrown away. I can imagine scenarios where magically having a certain document might make things easier or simpler for me, but none of these scenarios have ever occurred to me or anyone I know. Nor do I imagine that is worth the 1-2 hours per week it would take to maintain something like that. I would rather spend that time with my kids or my friends focusing on the present.

    Is this unusual?

  • by clang_jangle (975789) on Sunday May 01, 2011 @05:01PM (#35993272) Journal
    That, and I do have my original handwritten birth certificate, as well as a modern "official" copy with the state seal which is a relatively recent requirement. As I recall it took over two months to get the state seal version of it back when they suddenly decided the one I used until 1990-something was no longer "valid" So yes I do treat it as if it were irreplaceable.

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