Start Page: 5 tips to better manage your digital data

Kim Brand
June 20, 2012
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Kim BrandYou are a digital pack rat. You have no shame when you admit you have 100,000 emails in your inbox; in fact, you say it with a sense of accomplishment. You keep thousands of Word Perfect documents for clients whose names you don’t remember, even though you no longer use Word Perfect.

According to IBM, 90 percent of all the digital data existing today was created in the last two years. Good news: Hard drive capacities are expected to grow to multiple thousands of gigabytes (1000 gigabytes = 1 terabyte) in the next few years. After that, new technologies are expected to allow dozens of terabytes of storage on your laptop; enough storage for digital copies of every book, movie and song ever made.

Bad habits usually have bad consequences. But the consequences of mismanaging unfathomable amounts of data may be hard to, well, fathom. So allow me to scold you for your bloated inbox, chaotic file system and unkempt photos before you suffer the consequences of your untidy ways.

Here is five-step plan to manage lots of data:

1. Segregate active data from archive data

Many businesses employ accounting systems that accumulate data over years. Email is commonly ordered by the date it was received (and kept forever). But lots of data that is important today may become less important in a few years. Design your digital file storage system to separate information that is routinely accesbrandtip01_062212.gifsed from that which is used less frequently.

Outlook has a very useful ‘archive’ feature that can automate the movement of older email to archive folders. Allowing email to accumulate in your primary mail folder can lead to data corruption that can result in the loss of all your email. It also makes it very time consuming to find anything, back up or restore.

2. Isolate static data from dynamic data

Most hard drives are filled with a mix of data that you can’t change: the operating system, drivers, programs, etc. and the data you can change: documents, databases, etc. It is common to back up everything at the same time – but you don’t need to. Give higher priority to what changes and is irreplaceable if lost. You can always get another copy of Office from Microsoft.

If data changes often you’ll want more backups. Static data only requires one.

3. Outsource data management – use ‘hosted’ solutions

One of the best ways to manage data is to let someone else do it. Hosted email systems place the burden for backing up and managing critical email data on the provider. Microsoft now offers hosted Exchange for only $4/mailbox per month.brandtip02_062212.gif

Many online backup systems are suitable for photos and other files. You may not care to back up confidential client data in the cloud. In a well-designed system, you can specify groups of files that are important to keep, but not a killer if compromised.

4. Avoid copies of copies

One of the most useless wastes of storage space – and sources of confusion – is making copies of the same file in multiple places. This occurs when attachments are distributed to several people in the same firm. Instead: send a reference (a ‘link’ or just a description) to where the file is.

Transferring files to a server from a PC about to be replaced is another example. When the new PC gets installed, the files get transferred to it from the server, but the files remain on the server forever! Catch that mistake and you could save money by avoiding an upgrade to your backup system or lowered offsite storage charges.

5. Get good at searching

It’s no wonder that Windows 7 replaced the ‘Run’ command with the ‘Search’ tool on the start menu. Search will be more important than ever when we have millions of files at our fingertips.brandtip03_062212.gif

Remember: It is much faster and easier to find something if you put it in the right place. Mom was right.•


Kim Brand is a technology expert, author and president of Computer Experts, Inc.  In addition to the Indiana Lawyer, he writes for West Publishing, the ILTA and the IL Bar Association. Kim also contributed to the ‘On-Premises’ section of the recently released ILTSO.ORG legal technical standards, and he is the inventor of the FileSafe Server. You may reach him at The opinions expressed are those of the author.


  • manage your documents
    A good way to manage your documents is to use document management software. Such software (e.g. Globodox) lets you convert your hard copy documents into digital formats and helps you manage all digital documents in efficient ways. You can index, secure, organize, search and collaborate on documents. If you need advanced capabilities, you can use Globodox to automate document based business processes, keep an audit trail etc. It also lets you back-up your documents online.

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  1. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  2. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  3. Paul Hartman of Burbank, Oh who is helping Sister Fuller with this Con Artist Kevin Bart McCarthy scares Sister Joseph Therese, Patricia Ann Fuller very much that McCarthy will try and hurt Patricia Ann Fuller and Paul Hartman of Burbank, Oh or any member of his family. Sister is very, very scared, (YES, I AM) This McCarthy guy is a real, real CON MAN and crook. I try to totall flatter Kevin Bart McCARTHY to keep him from hurting my best friends in this world which are Carolyn Rose and Paul Hartman. I Live in total fear of this man Kevin Bart McCarthy and try to praise him as a good man to keep us ALL from his bad deeds. This man could easy have some one cause us a very bad disability. You have to PRAISAE in order TO PROTECT yourself. He lies and makes up stories about people and then tries to steal if THEY OWN THRU THE COURTS A SPECIAL DEVOTION TO PROTECT, EX> Our Lady of America DEVOTION. EVERYONE who reads this, PLEASE BE CAREFUL of Kevin Bart McCarthy of Indianapolis, IN My Phone No. IS 419-435-3838.

  4. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.

  5. I had a hospital and dcs caseworker falsify reports that my child was born with drugs in her system. I filed a complaint with the Indiana department of health....and they found that the hospital falsified drug screens in their investigation. Then I filed a complaint with human health services in Washington DC...dcs drug Testing is unregulated and is indicating false positives...they are currently being investigated by human health services. Then I located an attorney and signed contracts one month ago to sue dcs and Anderson community hospital. Once the suit is filed I am taking out a loan against the suit and paying a law firm to file a writ of mandamus challenging the courts jurisdiction to invoke chins case against me. I also forwarded evidence to a u.s. senator who contacted hhs to push an investigation faster. Once the lawsuit is filed local news stations will be running coverage on the situation. Easy day....people will be losing their jobs soon...and judge pancol...who has attempted to cover up what has happened will also be in trouble. The drug testing is a kids for cash and federal funding situation.