How to Organize Your Digital Files

Data Protection | How To

How to Organize Your Digital Files

From digital I-9s and W-4s to invoices and tax information, today’s businesses are keeping most of their information in the cloud rather than in a filing cabinet. Having thousands of digital files and documents means that a file can easily get lost in the shuffle, leading to a stressful scramble during a meeting or a missed deadline. To help you minimize your stress and maximize your efficiency, we’re sharing some tips on how to organize your files. 

Use a Cloud Platform for File Storage

More organizations are switching to cloud solutions to house their digital files, and it’s a step we highly recommend as it offers several advantages:

  • You can access your business files from any device or anywhere with a WiFi connection;
  • It’s easier to share files and collaborate on projects;
  • Scalable storage so as your needs grow, so can your storage limits;
  • Integrates with your business applications, including email;
  • Security measures are built in, including encryption to prevent spyware;
  • You won’t lose your files in the event of a disaster, server crash, or data breach.

Creating a Filing System

Once your files are on a cloud based platform, it’s important to organize them in a way that makes sense to you and your team.

Start with a “Root” Folder

Just like how Windows has a My Documents folder, you can create one main business folder in your cloud platform. Think of it as your digital filing cabinet where all the business documents, files, and folders go. 

Create a Hierarchy of Folders

From your root folder, you can create a series of category folders. If your root folder is the digital filing cabinet, think of these as your cabinet drawers where you would have a folder for your departments and categories, such as: 

  • Human resources where employee files, policies and procedures, and blank onboarding forms would be kept;
  • Accounting and bookkeeping for accounts payable, accounts receivable, and tax details;
  • Client information which could have files for templates and blank client onboarding forms, as well as each client having their own folder. 

From within those main category folders, you can create subfolders from within them. For example, if you have an Accounting folder and you need to track late unpaid invoices, you could have a folder for invoices -> unpaid invoices folder -> 60-days + late folder.

Maintaining Your Files

Once you have a system in place that works for your organization, there are two key things you need to do to maintain the system: 

  1. Documents need to be moved to a proper location immediately, whether it’s an employee file that needs to be transferred from current to former or it’s a late invoice that has been paid. 
  2. Follow an intuitive file naming structure that makes it easy to find what is needed. Adding dates to file names, particularly for monthly reports, invoices, and similar documents and files will make these easy to find when you need them. 

Securing Your Digital Files

While digital files are convenient, they are vulnerable to server crashes, cyber attacks, and outages that could cause you to lose data. That’s one of the main reasons we recommend cloud-based file storing platforms as you can retrieve your files more easily with minimal loss. However, we do recommend adding additional network security to your files, including: 

  • Virtual Private Network (VPN): Protect online activity and data when using public WiFi or WiFi hotspots by encrypting your data and location;
  • Cloud WiFi: Add cloud-based network security to your company’s in-house WiFi; 
  • Mobile security: Protect your data by preventing phishing, malware, and suspicious sites while using a mobile device without a VPN;
  • Email and spam security: A large percentage of spyware and malware comes from employees opening a seemingly innocuous email. Spam security filters them out.

Learn More About Storing and Protecting Your Digital Files

At CEI we offer a wide variety of IT solutions, including cloud storage and network security to help you keep your data safe, secure, and well organized. To learn more, schedule a consultation today at (919) 783-1410 or fill out the form below to get started.

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