You want to use your digital file cabinet efficiently without compromising security. If you do it correctly, you can maximize both at a much higher rate than you could with physical documents.

Here are 7 tips to do that:

1. Keep extremely sensitive files separate from other files. It can be a good idea to keep extremely sensitive documents in a local notebook on a computer that is in your house. Keep other material that is not quite as sensitive in the cloud. Regardless of whether your information is at home or on the network, you need to make every effort to keep your data secure.

2. File as you go. Before even putting text on the page, you should click “Save As” intuitively. Like any type of clutter, files can accumulate to the point where you find yourself digging out of chaos. Instead of letting your files pile up to the point where you need to take entire weekends to sort your material, make it an ongoing process. Sometimes a “spring cleaning” for digital files is necessary, but try to backup your files as you go along. It will save you a lot of time.

3. Use specific names for your files. It’s best to include not only the topic, but the media type and the date when the file was created. Avoid using names that could be overly cryptic when you would likely forget the name in the future. It can be very helpful to use a specific order in how you name your files. For instance, you can list the type of document first, the client it is intended for as second, the date as third, and the date the file was created last. I’ve developed my own formula that makes it easy for me to pull up my files.

4. Use a firewall. A firewall is one of the most overlooked ways to keep your information secure. On top of using complex passwords and a secure network, you should get a firewall. A firewall is a software- or hardware-based network system that analyzes data packets from incoming and outgoing traffic. It then decides whether data should be allowed through or not. It’s essential to keeping your information from getting intercepted by the public.

5. Back up your files regularly.
Your files are not entirely safe if they are only on your hard drive. As secure as it might feel when you see the words “(document) is saved” on your screen, you’re not done yet. You need to back up all necessary files on the Cloud, and it’s best to do it immediately so you don’t forget which data is critical.

6. Convert older file formats to current versions. This is important to do quickly because you never know when a new upgrade will come that prevents you from converting old files. Updates are coming all the time, so if you want to keep your files from being locked in time, you need to convert your files. Besides that, it will allow you to take advantage of the new software upgrades in case you want to edit old files.

7. Condense similar files into one file. As a writer, I often times have files with similar names, but they are just different drafts built on each other. If you have scattered notes that all relate to the same topic, it will help to just combine the material and delete the excess files. It’s one of the easiest ways to get organized and it takes minimal effort.

10 Must-Follow Rules for Effective Document Management