It all started back in the early 90’s with the advent of the internet, and all the things it entailed that we didn’t even know it entailed yet. I remembered my first internet account. When I connected, there was a flashing cursor. I had no idea what to do. I then found a search engine, a gopher (you probably have no idea what that is), and I was able to do text-only searches for documents. I mean real documents….readable text, not like what they mean by documents today, those lovely graphic renditions we see with all kinds of media on it.
Then came something called the World Wide Web, and web pages, and wonderful graphics, and all kinds of media, and an ease to navigating the jungle of that web….which we eventually called surfing. During all this surfing and entertainment and consuming media, there was this little thing on the side that we had, which we hardly used….it was a novelty….something neat to be able to say that you had….Electronic mail.
Email. We checked it every day but only had a message maybe once a week. Now it has permeated every aspect of our lives, and has been the milestone that says….the Information Age is here. We can’t check it often enough. We receive emails every second of the day (wanted or not). It has changed the way we do things. We use email to communicate in business. We use email to communicate personally. We don’t have boxes of papers, documents, and receipts anymore. We have emails. We buy things online, and they send us a receipt via email. We can get loans and apply for bank accounts and do most other financial transaction online, and we receive those documents via email. We file our taxes online, and receive our copy of our filing via email.
Our most important documents are often received via email. We have records of communication in business, with the IRS, with our government representatives, with our doctors, with our bankers, with our stores, and with our family. Back in the days of boxes, we could point to a box in the attic or basement, read the note on the side, and say…those are my taxes from 1999. So, where are your, so very important, documents now?
Most of us use a web based email system. That’s an email system where you use a browser and login to your email account. You can receive, browse, reply, forward, organize, and delete your emails. These are email systems supplied (often for free) from providers like Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, and Outlook.com. Even if you use client software like Outlook or Thunderbird, you can still be (and probably are) using a web based email system. This just means those emails are not sitting on your computer, but sitting on your provider’s server. All those emails, all those documents, sitting out there in the cloud.
Is that really smart? Can we really afford to have those important receipts, forms, and documents sitting out there….somewhere? I’ve heard many times people say…they lost my email! Not all, but certainly some of them, and probably (considering Mr. Murphy) those most important ones. Or worse yet, can my wife (OK, maybe me too) accidentally delete an email with its important attachment? Oh, yeah I can! (OK, maybe it was me) Can they, with all their advanced systems and servers, get that email back for me? Nope.
With the tremendous changes that have been ushered in with the Information Age, you’d think we need to change the way we do things. Of course, and we already have. Integrating these technologies in our lives has already done that. What we didn’t expect, and has caught us quite by surprise, is the need to do some of those things the way we used to.
I need a box….a box to store these things in. A box that I can point to, and know where it is, and that it’s safe. We need to backup or archive those emails. Read my next article for how we can do that very thing.