Hoarding just became digital

November 16, 2012

It is often easy to detect a hoarder, as these individuals often have considerable storage and sanitation issues. However, “digital hoarders” -those who keep enormous amounts of emails, photos and documents on their computers – are also becoming more well-known, even though TLC or A&E have yet to air a program exclusively about one of them. Without the physical limitations that accompany “traditional hoarding”, digital hoarding is likely to remain unnoticed to anyone but the hoarder – and it can become even more burdensome.

Even though there isn’t an exact definition of what constitutes a digital hoarder, a Wall Street Journal article says two signs of digital hoarding are buying more email space and fear or anxiety about deleting any digital files, even if they are unimportant.

In general, hoarding usually stems from deeper psychological issues besides wanting to save old digital files or emails. Often, there is a fear of losing something or a form of obsession-compulsion disorder, with a need to constantly collect and record. For some people, digital hoarding fills a void – trying to collect all the albums of a band, all movies with a particular actor or all the shows of one series. And even though digital hoarding doesn’t require physical storage, it does require a data storage system, and saving and searching through files requires some sort of brain power to keep up, as well as time to find disorganized files.

With so many different options online, often there isn’t much need for an offline data storage system. Flickr can hold photographs, Netflix allows users to watch movies and TV shows, and Dropbox can hold files so anyone with an internet connection can retrieve them. Of course, there is still the issue of having access to documents without an internet connection, which often leads back to digital hoarding. And even with internet-based data storage systems, like emails, people still may have trouble deleting old, unneeded emails, though more keep piling on.

Digital hoarders may also claim the hoarding, or “digital retention,” isn’t an issue. Chicago communications consultant Kathy Riemer has 2,400 Word documents and 39,575 business emails to allow her to go back and review past projects when beginning new ones. She told the Journal that this helps keep her business productive. Mark Carter, a Wal-Mart inventory manager says he can easily access his 24,000 MP3 files, 4,000 digital books and 3,000 family photos.

Digital hoarding in a commercial setting: How bulk scanning services can help

With so much digital space available to them, often companies don’t need to choose between what documents to save. But disorganized computer files that often come with hoarding mean finding documents is more time consuming and less efficient than it would be with fewer documents.Commercial document scanning services can help organize and cut back on needed documents – and avoid the inefficiencies of digital hoarding.

Now, imagine the volume of digital files that could pile up if a business begins to scan decades worth of financial documents, marketing materials, employee records and countless other files. If not done correctly, bulk scanning could produce a volume of disorganized, impossible-to navigate files. By using experienced document scanning services, companies are able to digitize only the most critical files and organize the files that they do keep, thus avoiding the inefficiencies of digital hoarding.