Why are we not treating our digital assets like the physical equivalent

Why are we not treating our digital assets like the physical equivalent

For most people, we treasure our assets. We buy insurance for our house, we maintain our cars. We take good care of major investment. However, do we may not do the same to our digital assets

For me and for most other people using smart phones, digital cameras, etc, one of our most valuable assets would be our photos of family and friends. Most other assets we can replace, including devices, hardware, even apps we bought. Even documents we created and articles we wrote can be re-produced to a certain degrees. This cannot be said for our photos, if we lost the photos we keep for 10, 20 or 50 years, we would have hard time getting them back. The best we can do is to ask our family and friends to obtain the copies they may still possess.

Most people have some degree of backup of their photos. Most common form would be backing out to iCloud or Google Photos or both. For 95% of the time, this may be all people need if they only want a frictionless process. However backing up to the Cloud is not 100% guaranteed. There have been cases were lost due to software bugs or servers issues or simply human errors (eg. If photos are manually deleted by users, they will be removed from the cloud storage after certain time).

One widely adopted strategy for back up of very important document, files and photos is the 3-2-1 methodology. Put simply, the process involves maintaining 3 backup copies at anyone time, two copies on different media (for example, not on the same hard disk) and at least one copy off site. The offsite copy can be at the parents’ home or offsite online back up solution.

Apart from backup, our digital asset needs to be maintained. Maintenance can be in many forms including

  • making the file / document / photo retrievable and assessible
  • making sure they are not stolen (especially documents that contain sensitive or valuable information)
  • ensuring that the content in the document or file are up-to date, otherwise the users could inadvertently use the outdated information

The above is not much different to our physical world. We need to regularly tidy up our house or storage place to know where we keep things. We throw out old stuff. Our DVD collections are no use to us unless we know where we keep them and can find them when we play the DVD movie. Similarly we put our jewels in our home safe or bank deposit box.

The issue is that we may not do the same to our digital asset. People believe this is because looking after digital asset require special skill or tools (like software). Personally, I think the reason is that digital assets tends to be less tangible. You cannot touch and feel them and know they are there or missing. It is easy to overlook that we do not have backup strategy or maintenance plan, we only discover this when we trying to find out where the 30-year old family photos were.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

In summary, I believe we should all have the same mindset in managing physical and digital asset. Once we recognise such need, we shall always find the proper way to manage them.

In the next article , I shall discuss about digital legacy.