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Thread: Old files--decluttering

  1. #11
    Senior Member flowerseverywhere's Avatar
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    I would keep all my w2’s. What would happen if the IRS electronic records were compromised and they were somehow changed or lost? You can never be to paranoid when it comes to ensuring you get what you worked for all these years

    we scanned in a bunch of old stuff, have originals of birth/marriage/house deeds, various titles in a safe deposit box with our kids names on it. We put statements from all our accounts in about every six months along with updated contact info for our kids. Also we have cd’s with all our family pictures on it. Now days I don’t think photos are nearly as important. We have tons on everyone’s electronic devices.

    I would evaluate each category separately. Obviously when we moved six years ago we had owners manuals and sales receipts from items we no longer had or were ancient and we would have replaced if they broke. Not as bad as my MIL who had a big pile of boxes and the original packaging from old items. Just in case. Most manuals are online now anyway. They were all trashed. Documents like house buying/selling, not a bad idea to keep.

    We keep no medical documents at home.

  2. #12
    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flowerseverywhere View Post
    we scanned in a bunch of old stuff, [...] Also we have cdís with all our family pictures on it. Now days I donít think photos are nearly as important. We have tons on everyoneís electronic devices.
    While storing electronically is a great way to save space (I'll save the issue of "uncluttered"; I've seen the contents of too many other people's hard drives ), the big challenge with electronic storage is retrievability of the data. Pictures on a CD are fine, but do any of your current computers have a CD drive with which to read them? Have the CDs themselves been tested for "bit rot"? Are the files stored in a format that's still supported by drives you can get today?

    Some file formats, like JPEG and PDF and Microsoft Word, will live a long time. But they likely won't live forever. Try opening a Lotus 1-2-3 file now or retrieving a file from ClarisWorks from back in the day.

    I am hopeful you're doing all the right things, but I see many people rely on file formats which fade out of use, hardware that disappears from the landscape, and hardware/media/software systems that worked -- one or two operating systems ago. Periodically checking one's backups/storage and moving them to new formats as needed is an important element of digital hygiene. Without it, why even bother with the trouble of creating and maintaining the backups?
    If Americans expended even a fraction of the energy on civic engagement that we spend on consumer ideology, our democracy would be much healthier. Can you imagine people camping out to vote? -- Charles Roberts, Amherst, Mass., Nov. 25, 2006

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