How to Keep Your Freelancing Files Organized and Safe

The Internet plays a tremendously important role in our freelancing lives, no matter what our niche happens to be. Although we might be used to an ever-changing career landscape, some of us might not be so willing to give up the tried and true methods that have kept our freelancing files safe for years.

As much as we might hate to admit it, there are times when we need to evolve with constantly changing technology. For the sake of streamlined organization, here are some ways to adapt a mix of old and new file safety measures.

First, a brief walk in the past…

If there’s one bit of nostalgia that I refuse to give up, it’s the CD-ROM. I still have a stack of them that I lovingly keep in a desk drawer. On them are some of my earliest writings from high school and college. It’s fun to, every once and a while, go through some of the files within said stack and see how much my approach to writing has changed.

Tip: repurposing old creative writing from your school days can not only be a fun hobby, but possibly even a catalyst for paid opportunities!

The only reason I don’t actually save anything to my dear CD-ROMs anymore is because they’re all full. Sure, despite them being incredibly outdated, I could still purchase blank ones. Yet, in a world where virtual storage takes precedence, obviously not every computer/laptop has the necessary drive anymore. Acknowledging that time waits for no writer (and indeed, no freelancer in general), I’ve long since moved especially important files elsewhere (stay tuned for location ideas the next few paragraphs).

I remain stubbornly convinced that when it comes to physical file storage, there’s nothing quite like these write-protected files stored on labeled disks. I keep them in their original cylindrical plastic casing to keep dust out. Aside from a few little scratches, it’s comforting to be able to access files that are 15+ years old.

For those of you who have piles of old CD-ROMs and DVDs that you’re most assuredly never going to use again, why not let them have a new life as a work of art?

Now, for present predicaments…

The main alternative to those nostalgia-inducing CD-ROMs is the USB flash drive, of which I use mostly because I have to. Sure, they’re convenient to transport due to their tininess, but it’s for that very reason they’re just as equally annoying. Yes, you can put some of them on keychains or lanyards, but a lot of them aren’t constructed with that little luxury – and what if you lose said keychains or lanyards?

You could take the positive route and say that this just makes it all the more necessary to focus on where the heck you store them. As for me, the most organized approach I have taken for my USB flash drives is to keep my most important one perpetually plugged into my computer, my secondary one in a dust-free digital camera holder (what’s old is, most assuredly, new again in this respect), and my third one literally next to the necessary-real-life file folders on my desk.

And finally, some words about virtual storage…

I’ve slowly gotten into saving files online, though only through Google Drive. I don’t like the idea of paying monthly fees for ultra-secure virtual storage alternatives. While nothing is particularly safe online, Google Drive makes me feel the most secure and is a one-stop file shop, if you will. It gives me enough free storage space, I can easily share files if need be, create spreadsheets/text files, and it serves as a backup for my primary USB drive. Speaking of which…

Not so long ago, I realized that constantly switching out my USB drives was a very bad idea – the most important one got worn down, and almost rendered all the files unreadable. It was then that I decided to use Google Drive more regularly.

Basically, between my USB drive and Google Drive, I separate everything by folders by company or subject. I very rarely let files stand alone. The most important items I push to the top of the list by placing an underscore _ in front of the file name. Make things easier by renaming each USB drive so it’s not just a letter. For example, I have a USB drive specifically named Text Files.

Whatever your approach to file safety and organization happens to be, it’s important to review your storage sources every month or so to delete unnecessary files and update others (like earnings for tax purposes). Backup each file in no more than two places for the sake of avoiding confusion, too.

The simpler you can keep the process, the better, because it’s in that vague space of too much information that files can get lost and become compromised, which does not a happy or successful freelancer make! So, stay focused, adjust as necessary, and thrive in the organizational confidence that you’ll create for your freelancing business.

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