Many people have the impression that digital storage is cheap, abundant, and limitless, especially when it’s readily available. Coupled with this impression is the idea that it’s not hurting anything to retain so much digital content so why bother to get rid of it. However, what stands the biggest risk of “being hurt” is the person saving the stuff. Some potential damages include the following:
- Contending with unintended destruction – sometimes disasters happen and equipment gets damaged, thereby destroying content. If this happens, do you want to spend time, money, and energy restoring and/or migrating everything? Or would you rather invest time saving the things that matter most?
- Upgrading or changing devices – see above
- Dealing with hacks or viruses – every time I see a headline about Yahoo, I’m reminded of an old Yahoo email account I used for 10+ years. I did a basic clean out of the Yahoo account when I moved to gmail, or at least I thought I did. After the latest headline, I logged into my Yahoo account and saw many emails containing highly personal and sensitive information in both the body and attachments.
- Losing time looking for things – I often help clients come up with strategic ways to manage information more effectively to improve search and retrieval. The success partially results from routinely purging low-value content to ensure search queries retrieve high quality matches.
We’re bombarded daily with volumes of stuff, making it difficult to assess what has enduring value from all the other useless junk. Maybe saving everything is so easy that it becomes the new “norm” causing us to develop new attachments to our stuff and how we think about it emotionally. Read more here:
At a certain point, too much saved “stuff” becomes crippling. For example, sometimes people rent physical storage units because of a life circumstance (e.g. move) and with the intention that it’s a short term solution. Often the unit is neither visited nor used and becomes a financial and emotional burden on the owner, similar to what happens with an over accumulation of digital content on our devices. You can’t bear to let any of it go, while at the same time hoping for a disaster to take care of it for you and eliminate the burden.