Used hard drives | BCBusiness

Used hard drives | BCBusiness
When you compulsively save those digital files, you're really wasting hard drive space (and your time).

If you’re a compulsive saver of digital information of all kinds, you’re costing your company or yourself lost productivity, time and money.  

Recently while viewing a very dry announcement of an equally dry conference that’s coming up in the U.S. in March, I discovered the term “digital hoarder.”

A “digital hoarder” is the modern version of that ferocious office paper-piler or amateur librarian of 10 years ago.

It’s an employee who compulsively saves or files information for no other reason than that it’s “safer.” If there are multiple copies of something, he or she can cover his or her ass if there’s a problem, or they can use it as ammunition in the next fight with a colleague, client or boss.

Alternatively, it could be that it’s saved because it’s vaguely interesting and can be read later when there is time (which never happens).

Digital hoarding is apparently a growing problem that vexes information managers for large organizations. But I’m sure it’s just as common in many businesses of all sizes, from the soloist to a small business of 50 people.

Why do we do it? I think it’s because, as the Getting Things Done system tells us, you can’t carry much information in your head. So we file it, sometimes compulsively.

Then, invariably, we forget about it. And a year or two later, we have to buy another computer because our rigs are so clogged that they barely operate.

Doesn’t that sound suspiciously like the hoarders you see on television? These are people who compulsively save stuff, usually in their houses, for no reason other than to save it. Eventually it gets so bad that they can’t live in the place anymore.

When someone becomes a hoarder, friends and relatives usually show up, sometimes with a counsellor, to stage an intervention. They have to help the hoarder get rid of those mountains of newspapers or envelopes or plastic bags, usually through some process of triage, or ruthless selection of what’s important.

Similarly, most of us accumulate too much digital content. With the tsunami of information that flows into our computers daily, it’s inevitable that we save at least some of it because it’s “important” or “useful.”

But is it? Or is it just in maybe territory and can be easily found at any time by a quick Internet search?

These days, with so much information around, we all need to do regular information triage.