Proper file management is key to ensuring your electronic documents are safe, secure, and easily accessible. Here are a few smart file management practices that every business professional should know and follow.
Did you know that human error is the number one cause of data loss? Yes, you’ve read that right. Cybersecurity threats come second on the list of the most common causes of data loss, following human errors. So, how you manage your electronic files has a significant influence on how safe they are stored and how easily you can access and use them.
This article explores a few innovative file management practices you should know to keep your files accessible and safe.
Organize, organize, organize
Obviously, the very first file management best practice is to keep your electronic files well organized. This will ensure that you will know exactly where to find it when you need it or how to search for it.
How do you keep your files organized? There are two ways to do it:
- By file type- If you have different files of different types, an excellent way to keep them organized is to organize them by type. For example, keep documents with a PDF type in the same place and the Excel documents in the same folder. If you’ll need a specific document and you know its type, you’ll know exactly where to look for it.
- By folders – Another way to organize your electronic documents is by folders. As a business professional, you likely handle all sorts of files from different areas of your business. So, for example, you can create folders with the main areas of your business like marketing, sales, suppliers, and so on. If, for example, you’ll need to use an old invoice received from a supplier, you’ll know the exact folder where you’ve stored it.
Follow the file naming conventions
How you name your electronic files will also play a significant role in how easy it is for you to find what you’re looking for.
Think about it: how can you search for a particular document if you know that its name doesn’t reflect its content? The only way to find it is to open each of your files to look for it. That’s a serious waste of time and energy. In contrast, if the names of all your files are relevant and actually represent the content of each document, your search will be done in less than a minute.
So, it’s essential to follow the file naming conventions in order to name your electronic documents correctly. Here are a few tips:
- Keep file names short.
- Use names that are descriptive of the content (e.g., invoice 20XX, supplier Y).
- Avoid special characters in file names.
- Use date format: YYYYMMDD.
Send your files in PDF format
When we say that your files need to be accessible, we don’t just mean for you. As a business professional, you likely share tens of files monthly, be it with your employees, investors, suppliers, and so on. So, the documents need to be accessible for them as well.
This is where PDF shines.
PDF is the most friendly format type when it comes to sharing files. As the experts from PDFChef explain, “PDF files will appear to the recipient exactly as they look on your device. There will be no changes related to formatting or size”. What’s more, PDF files can also be opened from any device, even if the recipient doesn’t have a document reader app installed on their device.
So, make sure that before you send your documents, you convert them to a PDF format.
Back up your files regularly
Electronic files can get lost in seconds due to a number of reasons, including cybersecurity attacks, a wrong button pushed, a technical failure of the device they are stored on, and so on. So, it simply makes sense to make sure that you have a copy of all your essential business documents in the cloud. In case of data loss, a backup will allow you to restore all your files within minutes.
So, make sure that you regularly create backups of your electronic files to be prepared in case of an incident.
Clean your document archives regularly
Electronic files can quickly pile up on your computer, especially when you’re a business professional and receive tens of files daily. Needless to say, this can quickly lead to chaos in your device.
So, to make sure that you don’t overcrowd your computer with files that you will not need anymore, regularly clean your documents and remove those useless and outdated files.
Use strong security measures
Last but not least, you also need to make sure that your electronic files are safe. Over the past few years, cybersecurity risks have been on the rise, costing businesses that failed to protect their data millions of dollars. If you don’t want this to be your story, too, take cybersecurity seriously.
As a business professional, you probably also hold some very sensitive data like customer information or business documents. Failing to protect them against common cybersecurity concerns can cost you a lot of money, your good brand reputation, and a lot of time and energy to get your files back.
Here are a few practices to keep electronic data secure:
- Use an external hard drive or cloud services to store backups of your essential files.
- Control who has access to your files (e.g., employees, investors, suppliers).
- Use robust antivirus software solutions and keep them up-to-date.
- Use a password for your computer.
- Don’t leave your computer/ device unsupervised.
Managing hundreds of electronic documents can seem overwhelming and challenging. Yet, it doesn’t have to be this way. Your job will be a lot easier by using a proper file management plan that includes practicable tips on handling, storing, restoring, backing up, and keeping documents secure.